6 PMP Certification Steps (Plus Advantages and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Project managers may complete a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate to develop expert skills in project leadership and team management. Candidates seeking certification require prior experience, extensive study and the successful completion of an examination. If you're an experienced project manager and would like to progress your career, you may like to know more about what this certification involves. In this article, we discuss what a PMP certification is, provide PMP certification steps, explain why a PMP status may benefit your career and give answers to commonly asked questions about the PMP certificate and examination.

6 PMP certification steps

Being aware of the PMP certification steps can help you start or progress your career as an effective project manager. PMP is a globally recognised certification that ensures project managers have the skills to oversee a range of projects. To gain certification, candidates undergo an examination, which tests for competence in several areas of project management, including team leadership, project methodologies and business. You may follow these six steps to get certified as a professional project manager:

1. Meet eligibility requirements

Candidates sitting a PMP examination typically need prior educational and professional qualifications. Depending on your circumstances, you may consider two eligibility options. The first requires a four-year degree, 35 hours of project management training or a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and 36 months of experience leading projects. The CAPM is a certification for graduates who are new to project management and involves an examination. A second option to meet PMP eligibility requires a diploma or associate degree, 35 hours of training or a CAPM and 60 months of experience in project management.

Related: How to Become a Project Manager (Including FAQs)

2. Register for a training course

As part of your preparation, you might register for a PMP training course with a recognised training partner. Instructors typically run these courses online over a few days. They give you access to expert advice and include resources such as practice tests and case studies. The training focuses on specific areas of study such as leadership, budgeting, communication, risk management and project decision making.

Related: 8 Effective Project Management Techniques Defined

3. Apply for the examination

The next step is to apply to sit for a PMP examination. Before applying, ensure you meet all the criteria for eligibility. Starting your application requires you to open an account with the Project Management Institute (PMI). They're responsible for the delivery and assessment of the examination. In your application, you can expect to provide basic personal information such as your educational background and details about your experience as a project manager. After the PMI approves your application, you may pay the examination fee and schedule your test.

Related: Certification for Project Managers: 15 Qualifications

4. Prepare for the examination

Once you know the date of your examination, it may be beneficial to revise your notes. This can refresh your memory on important content and key project management topics. In addition to courses, there are several books and online resources which can help you prepare. Before you undertake the test, you might also review the examination's marking guide, structure and other helpful details about the testing procedure. Preparing well means you can arrive on the day of the examination feeling calm and knowing what to expect.

5. Sit the PMP examination

You may sit the PMP examination online or at a project management examination centre, which you can find in most major cities. The examination takes just under four hours to complete and includes two 10-minute breaks. You may answer the examination questions without help from notes or other resources.

6. Maintain your certification

Once you complete and pass your examination, it's a requirement that you maintain your PMP status by undertaking professional development units (PDU). You may complete 60 PDU points over a cycle of three years. You can earn these points in a variety of ways, including attending project management training, seminars or other PMI events. This ensures you remain competent as a project manager and that you keep developing new skills to apply in the workplace.

Related: What is a Project Management Information System (PMIS)?

Why get a project management certification?

Securing PMP status may benefit your career in several ways. In addition to personal development, there are other advantages to consider if you're thinking of studying for your PMP certificate. Some of these may include:

Developing key management skills

As you study for your examination, you're likely to develop skills that are key to effective project management. You might hone your techniques to resolve team conflict or learn to budget more accurately. You may implement these skills in your current workplace or use them to secure a position as a manager of a larger and more complex project.

Read more: How to Improve Project Management Skills in 9 Steps

Gaining industry recognition

A PMP certification may reassure employers of your professional competence. It shows them you're willing to learn and demonstrates a genuine desire to progress in your career. When applying for project management positions, evidence of a PMP may elevate your application and give you an advantage over other candidates with similar levels of experience.

Receiving a higher salary

Evidence of a PMP certificate may mean you're in high demand and more likely to earn a higher wage. If an employer sees you have formal training, they may have greater confidence in your ability to help the company achieve its goals. This might result in a wage increase in an existing role or a higher initial salary in a new position. As the certification requires continual learning, this may also reassure employers of your long-term dedication as an employee.

Related: What Is Salary? Definition, Types and Examples

Increasing your job prospects

Developing your project management skills and techniques may increase your options when applying for new jobs. As the examination covers all aspects of project management, it requires you to develop a broad knowledge of management and hone a diverse set of skills. This may increase your ability to secure a variety of jobs across different industries.

Related: What Is Project Success? (And How You Can Measure It)

FAQs about PMP certification

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the project management professional certification and exam:

What's in a PMP examination?

PMP examinations cover three areas of project management, which are people, process and business. The people section covers 42% of the examination and focuses on your ability to build teams, manage conflict and mentor colleagues, among other topics. The process section takes up half the examination and tests your knowledge of project methodologies, such as budgeting and scheduling. In the last section, you may display your competence in business management. This may include topics such as compliance and organisational change. The paper comprises 180 questions, with a range of question styles, including multiple-choice, hotspot and matching.

Related: What is Cost Management (Complete Guide and Tips)

Who can benefit from a PMP certificate?

Anyone involved in some aspect of a project may benefit from a PMP certificate. As it builds on existing skills and training, it's typically suited for individuals with some professional experience. The certificate teaches skills you can apply to projects of any size and complexity, whether you're a project leader or simply part of the project team. Some career titles which may complete a PMP include IT project managers, project coordinators, product managers, program managers, project sponsors and project analysts.

Related: What is Project Coordination? (How it Works and Benefits)

How long does it take to study for the PMP examination?

It's typical for PMP candidates to study for between two and six months before taking the examination. During this time, you may complete around 35 hours of preparation. Your preparation could involve formal training programs, books or online resources. Studying and completing several practice tests is likely to increase your chances of passing the test. It means you may be more familiar with the content and layout and can answer questions confidently.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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