Project Management Professional Certification has become an increasingly popular and important means of verifying and certifying professional competence in the project management arena. Those who have undergone PMP Certification training in most cases bring several years of prior project management experience to the table in addition to holding an associate degree or a four-year degree in an appropriate field of study. Once this training has been completed and a certification has been granted, the recipient needs to renew the certification periodically by earning a prescribed number of professional development units, PDUs.
A project manager can wear several hats, including those of planning, oversight, status reporting, and quality control. Project managers are to be found in all sectors of industry ranging from manufacturing, finance, and construction, to information technology, new product development, engineering, and architecture. PMP exam consists of a number of multiple-choice questions. These are questions that are not specific to a given sector but address topics that program managers across the entire spectrum would be expected to be familiar with. A PMP certificate is in that sense transportable and it indicates that the bearer understands the role and responsibilities of program management and can apply the skills required in more than a single specialized field.
The Next Five Years
One of the questions to be answered to the question of where PMP Certification training might be headed in the next five years can be answered in partly by looking at the value the certificate is holding in the market. To many, professional certification offers proof of experience, looks good on a resume, and can lead to higher opportunities for career enhancement and promotion. Professional certification also indicates commitment to the project management profession, and can indicate commitment to the bearer's company as well.
The downside of certification training is that it can be time-consuming and represents an expense. A capable and experienced program manager may not find the training to be all that time consuming. However an attractive salary after PMP certification makes the exam affordable. The pros definitely outweigh the cons in any event, making the future of PMP certification training favorable. Also, there is a greater demand for certified program managers in some sectors of the economy than in others.
A principal source of statistics in the area of PMP certification is the Project Management Institute – PMI, a not-for-profit association for project managers. PMI offers seven certifications including the Professional Project Management Credential, of which there are over 607,000 bearers as of 2014, the number have been increasing by nearly 10% over the previous year, and by nearly 20% over the previous year. It is apparent therefore that the number of those applying for and maintaining their certification is on a definite upward trajectory.
According to a study conducted by CNN Money, of the 50 job titles rated as being the best jobs in the American economy, the role of IT Project Manager was rated fifth, with a 16% growth in the number of available positions anticipated over a 10-year period. Also, the PMI statistics tend to support the 16% estimate, especially since the PMI figure covers all sectors and not just the IT sector.
PMP Certification Training
The amount of PMP certification training required prior to applying to take the exam will vary from person to person, as per the project manager's prior experience and specialization. One who in the past has undertaken extensive training for the position he or she currently holds would be in a better position to take the exam than a person without any formal training in the discipline.
Training courses can vary widely. Some applicants choose the self-study approach and only require the use of study aids or participate in group discussions. Others, perhaps the majority, opt for a more formal method of training, including formal classroom instruction. Courses can consist of a few hours of "boot camp" training, or 30 hours or more of classroom instruction. According to the PMI, the average candidate will spend somewhere between 30 and 40 hours preparing for the exam.
Beside the traditional offline training courses, normally conducted in classrooms, and the online courses that are available, there are online training and live online classroom training programs. These online modes of training helps one to avail training at their own convenience.
A formal course in certification training should touch upon at least five performance topics: Project Initiation, Project Planning, Project Execution, Project Monitoring and Control, and Project Termination. Many project managers have significant experience in one or more of these areas, particularly monitoring and control, but fewer have taken on the role of project manager from a project's beginning to its end. This is especially the case with large projects, which can at times last for years. Adding to the problem, is the fact that many businesses are in the habit of using different managers to oversee the different life-cycle components of a project. A typical certification exam tends to focus on project planning, execution, and control, with project initiation and termination each accounting for approximately 10% of the exam content.
While preparing for a 200 question multiple-choice test may not seem all that challenging, the skills requirements reflected in the questions tell a different story. As indicated below, the manager of a large project has many more responsibilities than tracking progress and maintaining schedules. The skills project managers are expected to bring to the table to be certified include, among others:
- Cost-benefit analysis
- Business case development
- Risk identification, risk management, and risk response practices and techniques
- WBS tools and techniques
- Resource planning, procurement planning and execution, workflow procedures, and change management practices
- Project scheduling
- Project review techniques
- Continuous Improvement practices
PMP Certification Cost
The cost involved in taking the certification exam consists of the direct cost as well as indirect costs. The PMP certification exam fee as of 2014 is fixed at $555. PMI members can take the exam for $405. Since the PMI membership fee is $120, members enjoy a small savings. Other benefits that PMI provides to its members are: training materials, and preparatory exams, some of which are available for free. The PMBOK Guide, which is considered the best preparatory guide for the exam costs just under $50.
PMP Certification Online Training
There are a number of private organizations as well as institutes of higher education offering PMP Certification training online. Simplilearn offers PMP Certification online training in two modes – one is self-learning and the other one is instructor-led online classroom. While self-learning is ideal for those comfortable with self-study, instructor-led online classroom allows one to avail interactive training from the comfort of home or office.
Six Sectors worth watching where PMP certification adds value
- Aerospace – While the number of program management job opportunities in manufacturing has experienced a general decline over the past few decades, a bright spot is still to be found in the aerospace sector. One of the reasons for this is that the core competency of the larger airplane and airframe manufacturers is in airplane assembly, a highly complex discipline that often puts program managers to the test. Boeing is the dominant player in the aerospace sector, at least as far as the commercial side of the house is concerned, with most of the other companies focusing primarily on space and defense projects. There is also an increasing need for professional project managers to work in outsourcing hubs. A commercial airliner for example is assembled from parts and subassemblies that come from all over the world.
- Construction and Energy – The construction sector is always worth watching. This sector of the economy tends to be booming in some areas and experiencing problems in others, but overall the outlook is positive even though China has surpassed the United States as the leader in the global construction sector. The energy sector is hot, and it is not only alternative or renewable energy programs that are responsible. Clean tech and renewable energy projects are expected to grow moderately too, significantly over the next five years while the shale oil industry is booming.
- Healthcare and Information Technology – Healthcare is worth watching because this sector of the economy has been booming, and seems likely to continue to do so. The same is true with the IT industry. While this sector has stabilized somewhat, it continues to grow and continues to provide lucrative positions for those aspiring to the position of project manager.
- Government – Government continues to grow and will provide opportunities for the project managers. Even if the size of government would decrease, it is only likely to do so by increasing the efficiency by which projects are run. This can only be good news for project managers, and especially for those who have earned their certification.
A Global Perspective
To see where project management certification training is headed, one can look towards other countries as well, with India being a prime example of a nation that currently has a growing need for professionally certified project managers in a number of industrial sectors. As has been mentioned, there is an increasing need for highly trained and experienced program managers in the IT sector. Browse through the sponsored inserts in the recent bi-monthly issues of Foreign Affairs magazines and you will observe that in a number of developing economies, the financial, IT, engineering, and construction sectors are booming, as well as are the trade sectors. The outlook for program managers look especially bright for the next five years and most likely for at least the next 10 to 20 years or more as the economies of the various countries highlighted continue to expand.
As global economies expand, so does global trade, which is good news for the United States as well. Concerns about sending jobs offshore appear to be decreasing with time, partially due to the ever-expanding services and IT sectors. The trade sector alone has a constantly growing need for professional managers, and those in those positions stand to benefit significantly if they pursue professional certification. While holding a certificate does indeed look good on a resume, it has proven to be a career booster for many, and may prove to be even more so in the global economy where a program manager's responsibilities at times spans across different sectors of the economy.
With technological advances increasing by leaps and bounds, businesses busy in developing new technologies as well as those who used new technologies will be in constant need of highly experienced and highly skilled project managers. Certification is expected to become more and more important, especially in today's global economy where a project manager is indeed forced to wear many hats, and is more likely to work for more than one company or in more than one sector, instead of having lifelong employment in a single company as was common a generation ago.