Are you thinking of obtaining your Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification but not quite sure where to start? The following frequently asked questions (and answers that are based upon my own experience of obtaining and maintaining my PMP Certification) should provide you with some insight about PMP Certification requirements.
There are number of certifications that a Project Manager can obtain. One of the most well known, and valuable certifications comes from the Project Management Institute in the US. This is the Project Management Professional Certification and is currently held by hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe.
What is the Process for Studying for the PMP Exam?
There are a number of paths to take when it comes to studying for the PMP exam to become a certified expert in project planning and management. The path you choose depends upon your learning style and amount of self-discipline. If you are self-disciplined and can get things done on your own with minimal involvement or coaching from others, then you may want to go down a self-directed learning path. Build a schedule, stick at your revision and go it alone. On the other hand, if you need that extra support and accountability that comes from others then you may want to join a study group to learn about PMP Certification.
I chose a path somewhere in between the two mentioned above in the form of a Mentor. Most PMI Chapters have an arrangement in place where they will assign someone to you and develop a course of study in order to pass the exam. This provided me with an element of accountability that was also coupled with some flexibility that was able to work with my busy schedule.
We would meet for lunch once about every two to three weeks to map out the best course to take. In my case it included reading the PMBOK from cover to cover (yawn) along with a supplemental study aid that would bring a bit of color to this tome. Then, I obtained a CD set that I listened to in my car day in and day out that would provide illustrations and examples that brought the project management concepts to life and made them that much easier to remember. I listened to that CD set so many times that I was able to recite word for word all 8 CDs. The day I passed the exam was a landmark for a couple of reasons…not the least of which I could finally go back to listening to the radio again!
Finally, I ordered a sample test with actual exam questions that would provide me with a sense of how the exam would flow. I took the different sections of that test over and over again (different questions each time) until I consistently scored a 90 or above in all areas. I was then ready for the exam.
What is the PMP Certification Exam Like?
The exam itself was not bad. You go to a nearby facility that administers the exam. Obviously, get a good night’s rest but don’t stress yourself out. If you’ve spent the time mentioned above and been able to pass a sample exam time and time again you will do just fine.
There is definitely a place for memorization on the exam. You can’t bring in any type of notes with you so it is good to memorize some of the basics such as the process areas, inputs and outputs, along with some of the formulas that are included in the PMBOK. Once you get to the exam station you do have pencil and paper to work with. I immediately wrote down all those items I had committed to memory so I clear my head to focus on the questions at hand.
Something else to keep in mind is that you have to answer questions the way the PMBOK has outlined and not actually what happens in the real world. For example, there may be all types of approval processes outlined in the PMBOK that you may roll your eyes at that would never occur in your company. However, the “ideal” state is what the PMBOK outlines and that’s what the answer will be reflecting.
Bring a light snack with you to hold you over during your break and again, don’t stress over the exam. Typically go with your first answer. You have the ability to go back and change answers if you would like and mark questions you want to come back to later. Use tricks you remember from school days (process of elimination, common sense, etc) to answer the questions and you’ll find you will do just fine.
How Long Should You Study?
If you’re working a full-time job, have a family and other responsibilities you can most likely pace yourself to get all the studying necessary done in 6-8 months.
How Much Does it Cost?
One question many people want to know about PMP Certification is how much does it cost. All in, I probably spent just under $1,000 for the study aids, exam fees, and of course the lunches I picked up for my mentor! However, many people can do it for typically half this cost depending upon which path they choose to go down.
Is PMP Certification Worth It?
I have to say unequivocally that PMP certification is worth the time and money invested. On average, a PMP certified Project Manager will make around $10,000 more per year than their non-certified counterparts. If you extend that over the course of a person’s career it’s easy to see that an investment of a couple thousand dollars (once you factor in the continuing education requirements) will yield hundreds of thousands of dollars over a person’s working lifetime.
What is Involved in Keeping Your PMP Certification Current?
One thing about PMP Certification like other certifications is that you need to renew it every 3 years. During this three year period you need to earn 60 PDUs (professional development units) that show that you have been keeping up with the latest in project management tools, technology and thinking. You can earn these PDUs by attending education events, PMI meetings, or obtaining them through Registered Education Providers (REPs) with courses targeted toward specific areas of interest.
PDUs are not hard to keep up with…as long as you keep up with them. If you just get 2 PDUs per month you’ll have more than enough PDUs at the end of the certification cycle. Unfortunately, what many have done about PMP Certification is leave everything until the last minute and they find themselves scrambling to keep their PMP Certification up-to-date.
When is PMP Certification Important?
PMP Certification is important all the time. However, there are times when it comes more to the forefront than other times. Some of these times are when you are looking for a job, your potential employer may want to know whether you are PMP Certified or not. Or, if you own your own company, the clients you work with may feel an extra level of comfort and confidence knowing that you have cared enough to keep your PMP Certification current. Plus, having a PMP Certification may be the deciding factor on whether you are chosen for a promotion over the next person.
There’s a lot to know about PMP Certification, but if you find the right study group or mentor, you will find yourself navigating through the certification waters with the greatest ease.
One frequently asked question after you’ve received your PMP certification is…what’s next? Take your new found skills and knowledge and incorporate them into actual project planning tools. Try a 30 day free trial with ProjectManager.com. You can save time and hassle, quickly create plans, produce better reports, and improve your success as you climb the corporate ladder!