What is PMP certification, and what are the benefits of earning it?

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Project managers are an important asset to any organization, laying the foundation for business by planning project workflows and ensuring efficient execution. The need for these highly valued professionals is only expected to grow over the next eight years — according to latest PMI-commissioned talent gap analysis by Anderson Economic Group, the project management subdivision is anticipated to grow by 33%, creating nearly 22 million new jobs by 2027.

Two female and one male professional standing around a laptop.

Those who wish to pursue a career in project management can prepare for the role with a bachelor’s degree, but higher-level education and a professional certification can make you a strong contender next to other colleagues competing for the same position. Project Management Professional certification can give you that edge you need and build your credibility in the industry.

Let’s take a closer look at what defines PMP certification, the benefits of earning this designation, topics, and ways to prepare for the exam.

What is PMP certification?

According to the Project Management Institute, the PMP is a credential examination process that is used to determine whether someone has the salience, criticality, and frequency of specialized knowledge, skills, and organization to become a project manager. Organizations must use a Role of Delineation Study, or a set of guidelines that ensures the validity of the examination and properly measures all elements that make up a strong project manager.

The PMP should only be considered by an experienced project manager; others who are just starting their career should get some experience before diving into this certification.

There are two options for prerequisites to take the exam. Those include:

A secondary degree

  • 7,500 hours as a project leader or director and
  • 35 hours of project management education. Or,

A four-year degree

  • 4,500 hours as a project leader or director and
  • 35 hours of project management education.

Other PMP certification requirements include proof of taking responsibility for the life of projects in the past, leading teams under schedule, budget, and resource restraints and demonstrating the proper knowledge to meet well-defined project deliverable dates.

The application requires a fee of $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members.

What are the benefits of earning the certification?

Project managers can highly benefit from gaining certification. Some of the benefits include:

Confidence in the industry. By earning the PMP certification, project managers can feel confident in their role, as they have the specific knowledge and skills required to function in this career based on industry-wide standards.

Higher salary. According to The Project Management Institute, those with a PMP certification end up with a 20% higher salary on average than those without the certificate.

Greater goals met in the workplace. Those with a PMP certification benefit their workplace as well. The 2018 Pulse of the Profession Global Project Management Survey found that when over one-third of the project managers in a company have PMP certification, the organization as a whole meets the original goals and completes more projects on time.

Stronger connections. Understanding the global language of project management connects professionals in the industry and opens up opportunities for collaboration.

What topics are on the exam?

Understanding how to get PMP certification starts with analyzing the test material. The exam covers five different topics in project management. Those include Initiating (13% of the exam), Planning (24%), Executing (31%), Monitoring and Controlling (25%), and Closing (7%).

  • Initiating: This eight-task section tests the initial phase of project management. Project managers are expected to assess a project based on the available information, meetings with stakeholders, and more to support whether it’s feasible. This portion assesses analytical skills, benefit analysis techniques, and strategic management.
  • Planning: Project managers then assess the project requirements and develop a scope management plan to define and maintain the project. At this time, the schedule, human resources, communications, and quality management plan will be sorted out.
  • Executing: Next, project managers display how they take action and use the appropriate tools and techniques to get a project off the ground while meeting quality standards.
  • Monitoring and Controlling: Project managers will then assess the performance and organization of a project and determine what needs to be changed based on the outcome. Capturing, analyzing, and managing lessons learned leads to solutions and ideas for quality improvement.
  • Closing: Finally, the project managers achieve final acceptance from stakeholders to ensure the deliverable was properly achieved. Taking in feedback and properly understanding how to assess the situation is critical to evaluate and improve stakeholder satisfaction.

How the University of Birmingham at Alabama can help you earn PMP certification

If you want to build your expertise and improve your reputation as a project manager, it’s time to consider furthering your education. The Online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham brings the worlds of technology and business together so you can improve your communication, business, and leadership skills. The MIS degree is designed to help students prepare for a career in project social media, IT governance, business intelligence, data security, and project management.

One specific course to consider is IT Project Management, a class that prepares you for this career and points you in a clear direction toward how to get PMP certification. If you’re ready to start your career as a project manager, download a free brochure or speak to an enrollment advisor about the online Master of Science in Management Information Systems program today.

Recommended Reading:

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Project Management Professional Exam Outline

PMI Application Tips

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Benefits of earning a project manager certificate


Pulse of the Profession