Is PMP Certification Good for Your Career?
“You spent all that time, money, and energy on obtaining your PMP Project management certification…was it worth it?” queried my non-certified peer one morning.
“Good question,” I replied. “Give me some time to think about it and I’ll come back to you with an answer.”
I needed time to think about my answer because I’ve had my PMP Project Management certification for over 7 years now and needed time to reflect on the benefits. I was sure there were benefits, but I wanted to clearly articulate them to my colleague.
My initial reason for pursuing my Certification was that this piece of paper seemed important for my career. At the very least it differentiated me from those that did not have it. It put me in a category of certified professionals that immediately established a certain amount of credibility. I couldn’t imagine going to a doctor that didn’t have Ph.D., or MD after their name. PMP after my name as a project manager seemed to fall into the same category.
I’m glad to say the initial reasons for pursuing my credential were realized. But, I was also pleasantly surprised to experience the following benefits as well:
It Serves as a Filtering Mechanism for Project Hiring Decisions
Do you have any idea how many resumes hiring managers receive when they post a job for a project manager? My experience is that potentially hundreds will be emailed, which soon becomes overwhelming .
Where do many hiring managers start? They divide the stack of resumes into two piles…those who are a PMP and those who aren’t. Use this to your advantage. Make sure you include the PMP designation after your name, how long you have been certified, which paths of earning PDUs you have pursued (for example, risk management, communication) and even include your PMP certification number.
Don’t think that potential employers won’t look up your name on the PMI register. Unfortunately, there are a handful of less than scrupulous people who will claim they are a PMP when they are not. Employers have learned to verify the legitimacy of potential employee’s certification.
Arguably, there are good candidates in the non-PMP certified pile that are overlooked. But, hiring managers have to start somewhere and this is usually the most logical place to begin – so make the most of it!
It Affords You a Higher Salary
There have been many salary surveys conducted regarding what project managers can earn. One of the most notable is the salary survey conducted by PMI.org every couple of years.
The most recent survey is based upon 2011 numbers and shows on average that a PMP certified project manager will earn approximately $10,000 more per year than their non-PMP certified counterpart. That adds up to a lot of money over a working career. A certification is worth the time, cost and energy on a financial basis alone.
One thing to note…if you are a PMP Project Manager and not making what the averages are in the survey for your region you need to do something about it. You can take this information to your current employer and show them the numbers. They may be able to make an adjustment to bring you more in line with recent salaries. Or you may decide to start looking elsewhere. If you are a non-PMP Project Manager and would like to earn more money, then you will want to start going down the path toward PMP certification.
Out of the Gate Respect
PMP certification means something. It means you have thousands of hours of experience behind you, have passed a rigorous exam and keep your certification current each year with new and ongoing learning.
When you are in the position of working with a brand new team or a different company and you have ‘PMP’ after your name, there is a certain amount of credibility established out of the gate. The assumption is that this person knows what they are doing as opposed to a person that doesn’t have a clue.
Now, it’s up to you to prove or disprove this initial reaction; but having PMP after your name will take you a long way in establishing out of the gate credibility.
Common Language with Project Peers
Another benefit that comes from obtaining your PMP is the ability to instantly communicate with your peers and colleagues.
For example, let’s say you start a new job as a project manager in a PMO. One of the appealing factors of joining this new company was that the majority of the project managers were PMP-certified. This included the PMO Director. You knew this meant they understood the same processes, phases and vocabulary that you understood. Even though the learning curve may be somewhat steep when it came to the company technology, you knew that you wouldn’t have to worry about how projects were executed.
You may have been a project manager for some time prior to obtaining your PMP certification. You learned what works and what doesn’t, through the school of hard knocks. However, in the back of your mind you wondered if your way was truly the best way to manage projects. There were always lingering doubts. You wondered if there was a better way.
Sure, you talked with plenty of people and asked plenty of questions. You tried different things and discovered what worked and what didn’t. But, you weren’t 100% confident that this would be considered “industry standard”. Plus, you didn’t have anything to back up your position if a question came up.
Then came along your PMP credential. You validated the way that you were doing things in many areas was exactly the right way. You found that there were improvements you could make in other areas. And, you found a wealth of new information that made your professionalism as a project manager that much more substantiated.
For example, you came across the concepts of earned value management or learned the best way to put a work breakdown structure together. All of these allowed you to manage your teams, projects, and results with a great deal of confidence.
Upon reflection and to answer my colleagues question about whether the PMP process is worth the time, cost and energy…I provided him with a resounding YES. But, you also need to keep in mind that it’s just like any other investment. You need to make sure you are putting it to use. You need to maximize your certification by leveraging it in your existing job, finding new jobs, as well as continuing your professional development units. Then, YOU will be able to answer the question about what good is PMP project management certification!
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