A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving PMP Certification

What is PMP certification?

The Project Management Professional (PMP) is a certification issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI). As a requirement to get the management-based certification, the candidates must appear for an exam. The document acknowledges and proves an individual’s achievement, experience, and skills. This credential is valuable in Project Management worldwide.

What is Project Management?

Project Management is a set of techniques, tools, skills, knowledge in the elaboration of related management activities to achieve a conjunct of predefined objectives. In simpler terms, every project has a goal, and a manager uses his acquired skill sets of project management to deliver those goals as per the budget, time, and resources allocated.

Who is Project Management Certification for?

If an individual intends to work as a manager or is already working as a manager for a project, he must understand the basic phases of project management which include initiation, planning, execution, monitoring/control, and closure. Each phase will further include the management of integration, time, quality, costs, human resources, risks, communication, acquisitions, and third-party candidates of the project.

What are the Prerequisites for PMP Certification?

Here are some prerequisites for a PMP certification as defined by PMI:

  1. Academic Qualification – A secondary diploma or degree is mandatory, while the candidate also needs to provide the name of the institution, the year of graduation, and major.
  2. Experience in Project Management – The candidate should hold an experience of leading or giving directions in projects that are cumulative across various process groups and within the last 8 years will be counted on the PMI PMP application. These should be signed by a reporting manager or supervisor.
  3. Project Management Education– The candidate is required to show 35 contact hours of project management education, covering all aspects from initiation to completion.
  4. Fees – A candidate needs to ensure that the fees required to sit for the PMP examination is submitted at the time of application submission.

Keep in mind that a candidate has up to 90 days to submit all relevant documents to PMI after filing the application. Also, PMI requires five calendar days to approve a candidate’s application.

What is the Eligibility for PMP Certification

Following is the eligibility criteria for PMP Certification:

Eligibility Requirement Four-Year Degree Secondary Degree*
Years of Project Management Experience 3 Years (36 Months) 5 Years (60 Months)
Hours Leading & Directing Projects 4,500 Hours 7,500 Hours
Hours of Project Management Education (PDUs) 35 Hours 35 Hours

*A secondary degree is defined as a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent.


What are the PMP training objectives?

The objectives of a PMP training are to instill the following:

  • Understanding of a project’s framework and then learning how to integrate individual elements of the project
  • Learning how to define a project’s scope
  • Creating schedules for people and processes
  • Stakeholder management for example, acquiring approvals for deliverables
  • Understanding risk assessment ‚Äì learning to identify risks and its effective management
  • Using the PMBOK guide to create and follow a structure approach
  • Management of resources, time, budgets
  • Learning best practices for project management
  • Developing the skill sets to plan, monitor, and deliver goals


Is PMI Membership Mandatory for the PMP certification?

This is the point which raises doubts amongst many candidates, whether to become a PMI member first, before taking the exam. Since PMI has not made it mandatory for PMP certification aspirants to become PMI members first, the opinions vary.

A member is entitled to discounts on the certification. The PMP certification exam fee is fixed by PMI which is US$405 for PMI members and US$555 for Non-PMI Members. However, keep in mind that the membership comes a cost and includes other benefits depending on geographical regions. A Free Digital Copy of the PMBOK Guide and other material is provided to members to prepare for the exam.

What are the Steps of PMP Preparation?

A candidate must first meet the prerequisites and eligibility criteria as explained above. Once he qualifies, joining an institute is recommended they join an institute to help prepare for the exam.

  1. Study the PMBOK Guide thoroughly
  2. Spend 35 Contact hours on the Professional Development Units or PDUs
  3. Give simulation exams

Study the PMBOK Guide thoroughly

  • Use the latest Guide– PMI regularly updates its PMBOK Guide and a candidate must use the latest one to study for the exam. The latest one as of today is PMBOK Guide 6th edition is to be released in September 2017. The updated guide points to newer exam pattern and the institute chosen should be helping candidates prepare accordingly.
  • Divide the learning – The PMI divides the area of study into knowledge areas (performance domains) and it is recommended that a student allocate one knowledge area learning to one week. In fact, to make the learning smoother and faster, divide each knowledge area into processes. It is quite easy to take time out of a busy schedule to study one process a day
  • Concepts matter – The PMP certification focusses on both memory and a candidate’s ability for practical application of concepts. The examination will test an individual’s ability to use the principles and ideas in real life scenarios

Spend 35 Hours on PDUs

  • Contact hours – One contact hour equals to 60 minutes (yes, one hour) that a candidate spends on learning. Learning could be with a workshop, online training with a live instructor, formal courses by PM chapter, etc.
  • Share details of the training hours – A candidate will have to share details of the training before the examination in form of a certificate. Along with the candidate’s name, the certificate should show ‚Äì the number of PMP training hours covered, details of the institute, and chapter or company from where the training was undertaken.
  • PDUs continue even after PMP certification is obtained – If a candidate wishes to hold on to their PMP certification, they are required to obtain 60 PDUs, every three years after first clearing the exam.

Physical preparation for the exams

  • Create a schedule ‚Äì As a project management professional, a candidate would be aware that the importance of creating a schedule can never be emphasized enough. Scheduling time in the daily routine to prepare and excel at the exam is vital.
  • Join a PMP training center/workshop ‚Äì Certified educational institution will provide high-level learning, hundreds of certified trainers, instructor-led online courses. Joining a workshop on the other hand will get a candidate in touch with other like-minded professional. Creating a study group can help with studying and clearing doubts.
  • Give simulation exams ‚Äì Simulation exams monitor the positives and negatives. They will give a clear picture of the domains that are mastered and those that still require learning. One other important factor is time management for answering each individual question. A PMP training center will also create the exam environment of a PMI center.

What is the exam pattern and pass percentage?

Earlier, PMP gave a pass percentage. But, this practice has been discontinued for many years now. Instead of a pass percentage, a rating is given to the candidate. Psychometric analysis and difficulty levels of the questions help give the ratings of Proficient, Moderately Proficient, and Below Proficient. Below Proficient is naturally considered as Failed. In case of failure, a candidate can sit for the exam three times in one calendar year.

What kind of questions should one prepare for with PMP Training?

The examination is broadly divided into the following formats:

  • Questions that judge a candidate’s ability to judge relevancy of content in a given situation
  • Calculations based on about 49PMI formulas will cover this set of questions
  • Hard facts of project management with regards to processes and knowledge areas
  • A candidate’s ability to interpret a situation is one aspect that the questions cover
  • Ability to use the tools and techniques to complete a task are tested

How to schedule for an exam?

After PMI evaluates and confirms the eligibility requirements, a candidate may apply and schedule an exam. Candidates should apply on the PMI website with their unique PMI Eligibility ID. If a candidate is unable to appear for the exam, the schedule can be cancelled or rescheduled 30 days before the appointment.

It is vital to carry an identification document (in English) with the candidate’s photograph and signature to the PMI test center.

When are the test results declared?

Before the candidate leaves the test center they are notified of their result status. A message declaring the result will be sent to their registered email address. They will receive the certificate within 4-6 weeks of clearing the exam. The best part is that they can start using ‚ÄòPMP certified’ with their name as soon as they receive the congratulatory message.

What are the career benefits of PMP Certification?

The tangible benefits of undergoing PMP training are:

  • A positive effect on salary as your job opportunities grow
  • Better and more challenging projects (national and global) are given to certified professionals
  • A PMP certification highlights an ability to handle a project proactively
  • Skills acquired during PMP course to improve the performance of a project

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:

1 monday.com

Visit website

monday.com Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.

Learn more about monday.com

2 Wrike

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Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.

Learn more about Wrike

3 Smartsheet

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Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.

Learn more about Smartsheet

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