The demand for skilled project managers is growing. According to a study commissioned by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the United States can expect to see 700,000 new project management roles created between 2010 and 2020.
If you’re interested in project management and consulting, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification shows employers that you can lead teams effectively and see projects through to completion. Earning this in-demand credential can have a positive impact on your career — but it takes commitment.
Here’s what you need to know.
Determine your path
The PMP certification has a lengthy application process and a checklist of prerequisites. Project managers can take one of two paths to earn the credential:
Spend 7,500 hours leading projects and successfully complete 35 hours of project management training. These requirements apply if you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree or international equivalent, as well as five years of experience working in project management.
- Spend 4,500 hours leading projects and successfully complete 35 hours of project management training. These requirements apply if you have a four-year degree, such as a bachelor’s or its international equivalent, plus a minimum of three years of experience working in project management.
Prepare for the exam
The examination for the PMP certification includes 200 multiple-choice questions, developed by and for project managers.
Consult PMI’s roster of useful resources, which includes content outlines, sample questions and a handbook covering everything you need to know about the test.
You can also visit the PMI website to learn about training opportunities, such as on-demand webinars and in-person classes.
Passing the initial exam is only one hurdle: You will need to renew your PMP certification every three years. Currently, that process requires you to complete 60 credits of continuing education.
If you don’t fulfill this requirement, your credentials could be suspended for one year. If you lapse again in that year, your certification will be canceled.
Inform your employer
If you are convinced the PMP certification is for you, let your manager know of your plans. Having a PMI-certified project manager can be valuable to your employer — so much so that the firm may even be willing to reimburse you financially for your pursuit of the credential.
Here are some compelling reasons why the business may want to support your endeavor:
- Project managers promote an organization’s success by establishing effective practices and helping realize strategic objectives.
- The prestige of the PMP certification can attract new clients to your organization. Many companies prefer to work with firms that can assign certified project managers to their business; they know these professionals can help guide their projects to success.
- The business can stay up to date with best practices in project management, which can provide competitive advantage.
Expand your career potential
The PMP certification not only can make you more valuable to your current employer, it also can help take you to new places in your career. Many businesses across industries — and geographies — are searching for skilled project managers.
Professional certification can also help you earn up to 10 percent more in average starting compensation for many finance roles, according to the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half.
Finding time to earn the PMP designation may be a challenge for busy professionals. But the career opportunities you may enjoy by becoming a certified project manager can make the investment more than worthwhile.
Have you earned the PMP certification? What advice do you have for professionals who want to earn this credential? Share your thoughts in the comments below.