The Project Management Institute, (PMI) founded in 1969, began offering the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in 1984. Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the PMP certification demonstrates an effective way of achieving broad business objectives by project management professionals. The industry-recognized credential helps the PMI promote standards and ethics throughout the field of project management in addition to their publications, seminars and training options.
The PMI offers a variety of pathways to achieve the PMP certification. Applicants are required to have either:
- A four-year degree and at least three years of project management experience, including 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education
- A high school diploma with a minimum of five years of project management experience, including 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education
Project managers must have accrued all their applicable project management experience within the eight years prior to taking the exam. Many colleges offer PMP preparation programs. When vetting a project management preparation program offered at your local college, be sure to verify that it meets PMI standards and uses the PMBOK as resource material. The PMBOK is the Project Manager Body of Knowledge and provides a solid foundation for project management standards, practices and education.
The Certification Exam
The PMP exam is composed of multiple-choice questions, usually with four answers to choose from. The test is offered at various times throughout the year. Applicants must fill out an application and undergo the approval process before taking the exam. Two versions of the test are available. One version is computer-based and the other is a standard paper exam. Applicants may choose the exam that best meets their needs, but a benefit of the computer-based exam is that you get to learn your results immediately upon exam completion.
The exam is composed of roughly 200 questions, 25 of which are designed to test the validity of the exam. The exam is not negatively scored. Points are only awarded if you complete a question correctly. According to a 2005, PMI published document entitled "Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new PMP Examination", 106 of the 175 "real" questions must be answered correctly in order to pass the exam. Testers are allotted four hours to take the exam. Testers may bookmark questions for review and return to them after completing all other questions in the exam.
In preparation for the exam, it's recommended that you take at least two preparation "test" exams in addition to the one offered in the PMBOK. Many test takers utilize additional study materials or enroll in an exam preparation class such as the ones offered by RMC Project Management, Inc. and PMT Institute.
In addition to preparation, the test fee varies based on whether you are a member of the PMI. Membership offers privileges including up to date material on the latest practices and standards, professional networking and local workshops.
Failure, Re-Testing and Other Options
In the event that you do not pass the PMP, you are not required to wait a cooling off period to retake the exam. You will have to pay the exam fee again, but as long as you are within one year of your application, you will not need to reapply. It takes at least forty-eight hours for the scores to register with PMI and you should wait at least two to four days before scheduling a new exam.
Additional PMP Certification Information
It is important to note that you must take your exam within one year of your approved application or you will have to go through the approval process again. You will receive your certificate within two to three weeks after passing the exam and your credentials will be published online with PMI within seven to ten business days.
A Lifetime Commitment
Once you've achieved your PMP certification, PMI requires that you maintain your credentials with regular education. When you complete continuing education, you register your Professional Development Units (PDUs) with the PMI, enabling you to maintain your certification. PMP certification is considered a lifetime commitment to excellence and achievement within the project management field.