PMP Certification: The Key to Unlocking Opportunities?

By Robert Half on July 9, 2014 at 7:00am

Want to solidify your project management skills, stand out to employers and, yes, earn more money? If you have experience as a project consultant, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification could be that next step you’re looking for.

The PMP certification is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a nonprofit professional organization committed to advancing the field of project management. This credential proves that you’ve competently led and directed teams as a project manager (PM). The Salary Guide from Robert Half notes professional designations can boost starting pay by five to 10 percent and lists the PMP certification as an accreditation valued by employers.

Here’s what you need to know:


Not just anyone can obtain the PMP certification. Before you complete the six-page application, make sure one of these sets of requirements, as outlined by the PMI, describes you:

  • You have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent), a minimum of five years of PM experience, including 7,500 hours leading projects and 35 hours of PM education.


  • You have a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent) and a minimum of three years of PM experience, including 4,500 hours leading projects and 35 hours of PM education.

Exam prep

The PMP certification exam includes 200 multiple choice questions developed and refined by project managers. The best way to prepare is by reviewing the sources provided by the PMI. Study the handbook, content outline, sample questions and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

There are also formal study courses for PMI members. If you’re not a member, you can enroll in a formal study course or review study guides offered by PMI-approved education providers. You can also prepare for the exam by joining a study group.

After the exam

The PMP certification process has a built-in program of continuing education. Your certification is good for three years. Within that time, you must earn and report 60 professional development units. You can renew your certification after completing those units.

Be aware your credentials are suspended for one year if you don’t fulfill the continuing certification requirements (CCRs). Your credentials expire at the end of the suspension if you still do not fulfill the CCRs.

Making it work for you

While certified PMPs may have learned a great deal about project management by studying for the exam and continually learning the material, it’s up to them to put that knowledge into practice.

That said, certification can open doors. Certified PMPs include this designation on their resumes to show they have project management knowledge plus motivation to learn more about the field. In today's highly competitive work environment, the PMP certification can be the key that unlocks greater project manager opportunities.

If you’ve earned the PMP certification, what do you feel are the greatest career benefits?

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