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How to get PMP certification

PMP certification

If you have a head for managing corporate projects, getting Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification can bump up your resumé to a whole new level of respectability.

Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), “PMP certification is the gold-standard credential in project management,” says James Wood, PMP, an instructor in the MBA program at the University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus.

Although many project management programs and certificates are available, Wood notes, PMP certification — which involves becoming eligible for and then passing a four-hour PMP national certification exam — is the credential that’ll get you noticed.

Here’s what to do to obtain PMP certification:

Evaluate your dedication.

“Getting PMP certification is a laborious process,” Wood says, “so you need to be sure you have a passion for project management. Ask yourself if you’re someone who embraces responsibility, pays keen attention to detail and loves to lead people.”

Work the requisite hours.

Before qualifying to take the PMP exam, you first must gain hands-on project management experience. If you already have a degree from a four-year college, you’ll also need 4,500 hours of experience managing a project to qualify, Wood notes. Individuals without a four-year degree will need 7,500 hours.

“Eligible hours are not limited to paid professional work,” Wood emphasizes. “If you were the Girl Scout cookie leader, and that was 40 hours, that counts.” The PMI website provides details about qualifying work.


Get your education credits.

You’ll need 35 hours of separate project management education to be eligible to take the certification test.

The University offers a Project Management Certificate, Wood explains, that includes courses that count toward those education hours. This certificate teaches students about project management, but, he emphasizes, it’s not the same as PMP certification.

Apply to take the test.

You must register for the PMP certification test, which includes logging your hours of education and work by providing a list of employers and projects. Wood recommends taking this step three to six months before the test. Make sure what you log is accurate, he advises, because PMI may audit your information.

Take a test-prep course.

The University offers PMP test-prep courses that review material covered on the exam, and Wood encourages you to complete such courses at least two to three weeks before the exam.

Do several practice exams.

Wood suggests buying software available on the PMI website to access the institute’s practice exams, and taking them multiple times. The PMP is an incredibly challenging exam,” he stresses. “I think I took 20 practice exams before I sat for my test.”

Pass the test.

If you fail, PMI allows two more attempts within one year before you have to reapply for certification.

But don’t be surprised if you don’t pass on the first try. “I could easily name a dozen folks that are incredibly sharp and have never failed a test in their life,” Wood says, “and they fail this test on their first try. It’s a really tough exam.”


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Project Management Professional (PMP) is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute Inc.