The job market today is stronger than ever. One of the fastest-growing professions in the US and around the world today is project management. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), there should be around 22 million new project management job openings from now through 2027. Because there’s increased competition, employers are looking for more ways to qualify a project manager apart from the usual requirements of having years of experience and education. This comes in the form of the Project Management Professional certification.
Project managers who are PMP certified earn greater than 20% more than their counterparts who are not certified. The PMP certification shows employers that the holder has the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills to carry out a project to completion. This is why now is the perfect time to get PMP certified through doing the PMP exam.
Before the PMP certification exam can be taken, each applicant must complete an application made by the PMI. The PMI asks for a lot of information which makes the process very stressful to complete. Luckily, the application can be done online. To do this, the applicant will first register on the PMI website and complete their application. The reason for joining the website and becoming a PMI member is to save money for signing up for the PMP exam. The cost for members in taking the computerized test is $405, while for non-members the cost is $555. Being a member also gives you access to free electronic copies of the Salary Report and the PMBOK® Guide.
The application must be done accurately. One common mistake that applicants make is misconstruing what a ‘project’ is. Also, many applicants confuse what the requirements are. The requirements depend heavily on what the applicant’s educational background is, and there are two paths one can take based on this.
TWO PATHS TO GLORY
In path 1, the applicant has a secondary degree such as a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or a global equivalent. They will have a minimum of five years of unique non-overlapping project management experience with at least 7,500 hours spent leading the project. In path 2, the applicant has a four-year degree such as a bachelor’s degree or a global equivalent. They will have a minimum of three years of experience of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience with at least 4,500 hours spent leading the project. In both paths, the applicant will need 35 contact hours of formal PMP training.
In this post, we will speak on the PMP certification application process, and what you will need to get certified. But first, let’s talk about PMP and what it’s all about.
ABOUT THE PMP CERTIFICATION
The Project Management Professional certification is a credential that signifies to employers and clients that the holder has the necessary skills and experience in carrying a project to completion. Project management is a growing profession in many corners around the globe, and project managers are in high demand in many fields such as tech, government, defense, finance, banking, construction, etc. With this high demand, employers are willing to pay more for a PMP certified project manager. Professionals who have a PMP certification are set to earn around 20% more than those without the certification.
The Project Management Institute, or PMI, developed the PMP certification to give project management professionals a way to show employers that they have the necessary skills to bring a project to fruition. Unlike many other certifications in fields such as finance and information technology, a PMP certification is industry-agnostic, meaning that you can use it in just about any field such as finance, government, defense, tech, etc.
The textbook for the PMP certification program is the PMBOK® Guide. PMBOK® stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge®, and it was first published in 1996 as a set of rules to show how best to manage individual projects. This guide is seen as the Bible of PMP and contains all the rules, guidelines, principles, and methods that make a PMP certified project manager great. These rules and guidelines are universal, meaning no matter where you are in the world, getting a PMP certification will get you ahead right where you are.
MORE REASONS TO GET PMP CERTIFIED
Whether you want to admit it or not, money is one of the biggest motivators in determining the career path that you take. And for many people getting PMP certified, a bump in salary is a reason to set aside a week in preparing for and taking the PMP exam. There are indeed so many other reasons why project managers and others get PMP certified, but it doesn’t hurt that PMP certified project managers earn 20% more than their peers.
Getting certified also comes with other perks, including networking opportunities, as the PMI regularly puts on events through their various chapters. Another great thing about the PMP certification is that it respects and acknowledges the fast-paced and dynamism of today’s job market. Every three years a certified person must take the necessary steps to earn professional development units (PDUs).
Now that we have defined what PMP is and looked into its background, we can look at the steps in making sure that your PMP certification application is completely foolproof. Here is the essential guide to the PMP application process.
VALIDATE YOUR HISTORY
PMI requires that all applicants first gather all the details related to their experience and education before opening the application. To show that you have performed as a project manager in the past, you should show that you have led and/or directed teams to complete and deliver projects within set durations, budgets, and scope.
The prospective PMP applicant should also show that they were able to apply the best approaches to manage a project to fulfill all requirements and deliverables. A good project management professional would be able to work well under supervision but also be a great supervisor in managing their team.
Here is a list of the things that the application form will ask you about:
- Contact information, such as your email address, your physical address, and telephone number.
- The highest education level attained, including the school attended and the date of graduation.
- All experience gained. This section contains details of the projects, programs, organization details, dates of employment, experience summary, and references.
- Education, meaning how you were trained for the PMP course. The application will ask for the name of the courses that were completed, institutions attended, dates attended, and qualifying hours.
DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE
In the application process, the form will ask you to outline all the project management experience that you’ve had. You will be asked to outline in detail each project that you managed professionally. The description will have:
- A brief summary of what the project was about
- The responsibilities and deliverables of the project
- Summary of how the project ended
Make sure that when you are filling out your application you seek the help of your superiors and ensure that you are all on the same page. This is very important in cases where there is an audit. The PMI team will verify with your employers the hours that you put for each project that you claimed to do. If the team sees that what you said is different from what your employer said, they will be more likely to reject your application. It is advised that you do not submit your application until you get a signature from your employers on each project that you have claimed to do.
Just like a job resume, quality is better than quantity. This means that you will want to put your best foot forward, showing them the best projects that will make you look good. Yes, getting to 4500 hours as a bachelor’s degree holder or 7500 hours as an associate’s degree or diploma holder is difficult, but it doesn’t make sense to display projects that didn’t go well just to make up for the hours. It’s recommended that you start with the larger projects first as that will save you some time if there’s an audit.
THE STEPS OF DESCRIBING YOUR EXPERIENCE
When you are doing this section of the application, the first thing to do is to give a title to the project. Most projects will have a discernible name, so you could simply fill in the project name in this area. After this, you’ll be asked about your project role. Many make the mistake of putting a title that is not PMI related. Terms that are PMI related include project leader, project manager, and project coordinator. If your job title is different than this, do not put it here. If a role name wasn’t given to you, it’s best to speak to your supervisor to determine what PMI-related term best suited you when leading that project.
After this, you will give your application some credence by placing the name of your immediate supervisor on the form. After this is the most important section of showing off your experience. When calculating and adding time, you will add your hours under these headings: Initiating the Project, Planning the Project, Executing the Project, Controlling and Monitoring the Project, and Closing the Project. It’s best to do everything offline before you put it into the application, so use a notebook or a spreadsheet to determine your hours before putting them in.
When writing the project description, ensure that you include a brief description of the project, its objectives, the key deliverables, the outcome of the project, and your role in carrying out the project. Ensure that you use PMI terms in your project description and that you convey what project management really is. Some terms that will help in writing a great project description include ‘project charter’, ‘scope’, ‘project deliverables’, ‘schedule’, ‘quality management’, etc. Having these terms will ensure that PMI doesn’t ask you to rewrite your project description.
To qualify for the PMP exam, you will need at least 35 hours of formal PMP training. Many professionals choose to go to a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P) like PMTI. R.E.P.s are designated by PMI to denote institutions that have the highest caliber of project management training. Others choose to go to other institutions that primarily teach PMP or teach it on a secondary basis.
When PMI receives the application, they will verify that all eligibility criteria have been met. Eligibility criteria include your work experience as a project management professional and your education. After completing the application process, it will take about 5 days for PMI to review your application on its completeness. Once they decide that your application is complete, they will send an email asking you to pay the PMP Certification fee which you can pay online. Also, you will be confirming the language aid during this time.
The language aid is provided to those whose native tongue is not English. In the exam, it will translate the question on the same page as the English version. Many applicants overlook this part of the application process, so don’t miss it. Language aids are available in these languages: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
PMI runs its own quality control processes to ensure the integrity of their selection process. For the PMP certification, they randomly select a specified percentage of applications to audit. After review, the student can decide to pay for the PMP exam right away. If you are not selected for an audit, you will be sent instructions to set a date for when you will be taking the PMP exam. Eligibility lasts for a year, and the student can take the test up to three times for the year.
It doesn’t matter how well you do your application, you must be prepared for an audit because applicants are selected randomly. If your application is one of the chosen applications for an audit, you will have 90 days to submit material that they ask for. Some documents that are often asked for in an audit include copies of your diploma or degree. Depending on the case, you may or may not be suspended from applying again for a certain period of time.
To be thoroughly prepared, ensure that you have on hand all documents that support your claims to education, project management education, and work experience. When speaking to your superiors during the process of verifying your work experience, ask them for any documents they may have which you could use to back-up your claims during an audit.
- When writing the project description, it is best to start with the objective of the project. They should then end with the result of the project.
- Many applicants believe that showing that they overwork will get their applications approved faster. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, PMI will look at your work-life balance. It is best to only allow 40 hours for each workweek, as they may ask you to redo this section if you surpass this limit.
- Always be honest in your application. If you believe you are going to come up short, it is best to wait until you have the necessary experience than to stretch the truth. If your application is selected for an audit and they find that you were not truthful, you may not be able to apply for the certification ever again.
- Double, triple, and even quadruple check the information you put into your application. It is imperative that what you put there is 100% accurate. PMI offers a feature for you to print a hard copy of your application. Doing this will give you the ability to share what you have written down with your superiors and colleagues so that they can verify the information with you.
- Look through the PMBOK® Guide or use study aids to help you learn important terms and subjects that PMI cares about. In this way, you can make your application even stronger.
- Read PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct before you submit the form. It’s almost human nature in this day and age to skip reading these documents and say you’ve read them just to advance to the next step, but this document, in particular, has facets that you will be tested on in the PMP exam.
We have thoroughly gone over everything you need to know about the PMP application process. We’ve gone over the steps that you will take, the hurdles you will encounter while applying, the important fields you must fill out in the application form, and what happens after you have submitted the form. Here at PMTI, we have consulting services that you can use to help you determine if you are ready to apply for the PMP exam, and if not, what are the things you will need to be ready.
PMI requires that you have 35 hours of formal PMP training, and the best way to get your hours in is through us at PMTI. For 16 years we have helped tens of thousands of project management professionals complete and pass the PMP exam. In that time, we have managed to maintain a 99% pass rate. We are so sure that you will succeed with us, that we are willing to refund you all of your tuition with us if you failed all 3 attempts at passing the PMP exam. With this guide, you are now able to confidently start the process for a brighter future as a project management professional.
Yada is not just the leader of the Project Management Training Institute (PMTI). He helped to write significant portions of the project management standards worldwide. He is helping PMI right now in reviewing, directing, and leading the development of the 7th edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide to incorporate the most monumental changes to project management standards in 35 years. He shares his wisdom with readers via the PMTI blog.