How to Get a PMP Certification


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The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is the most highly respected accreditation in the project management industry. Our guide covers what the PMP certification is, how to get PMP certification, and how it can benefit you professionally.

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What is a PMP Certification?

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is a globally recognized credential supplied by the Project Management Institute (PMI) that acknowledges substantial experience in the field of project management. 

According to the PMI, the PMP certification verifies that accredited professionals possess a high level of knowledge surrounding:

  • Motivating and managing teams throughout the project lifecycle. 
  • Understanding a wide range of project management methodologies and which approach is best suited for each individual project and organization. 
  • Highlighting project successes and their impact on overall organizational goals.

Read more: CAPM vs PMP: Which is the Best Certification For You?

Prerequisites to Obtaining a PMP Certification

Before applicants can apply to take the PMP exam, there are a few requirements that they must meet: 

  • Four-Year College / University Degree
  • 36 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® certification

— or —

  • High School or Secondary School Diploma
  • 60 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® certification

Read more: When to Get a PMP

How to Earn a PMP Certification?

If you meet the required qualifications, you’ll still need to gather proof of eligibility, compile a list of your relevant project management experience, and apply to take the certification exam. Before taking the exam, applicants will have 90 days to submit all of the required documentation proving successful completion of all exam preparation. In addition, you must pay a registration fee to book a seat for the PMP exam. For PMI members, the fee is $405, and for non-members, the fee is $555.

Read more: Best PMP Exam Prep Books for 2023

Download Our FREE Guide to Obtaining Your PMP Certification

How to Prepare For and Pass the PMP Exam

While the average pass rate for the PMP exam is 61%, the exam process is notoriously difficult. To give yourself the best chance at passing the exam on your first attempt, there are a few top suggestions you should consider:

1. Familiarize yourself with the PMBOK® Guide. 

This guide from the PMI is the premier source for mastering the topics covered within the PMP exam. After all, it’s written by the same organization that provides the PMP exam and certification. While investing in the PMBOK® Guide can be an investment, it’s a great way to ensure that you’re well-versed in all of the topics required to pass the exam.

Read more: What’s New in the PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition

2. Take Advantage of Exam Prep Courses Through a Professional Vendor.

Studying for the test itself is essential to maximizing your chances of success. Taking advantage of the exam preparation options offered by online classrooms can make it convenient to prepare for the exam while earning training hours toward the PMP exam prerequisite requirements. Online classrooms such as Master of Project Academy, Udacity, and Udemy offer free and paid PMP preparation courses, test simulators, one-on-one tutoring, and peer discussion opportunities.

3. Test Out PMIs Free Digital Resources.

Many PMP students wrongly assume that PMI only offers paid study materials. In fact, PMI has a variety of free PMP virtual courses to help you immerse yourself in the material and familiarize yourself with key project management concepts that may appear on the exam. In total, PMI offers seven free courses, covering everything from key PMP concepts to the basics of Agile and Scrum project management, and more.

Read more: Top PMP Exam Simulators for 2023

4. Join Networking and Test Preparation Groups.

As you prepare to take the PMP exam, joining networking and test preparation discussion groups can help you feel supported and confident as you approach the PMP exam and even after you’ve successfully been awarded your PMP certification. 

PMI offers membership into local chapters, and the event hosting platform Meetup provides project management-specific local group events. Additionally, Linkedin’s wide variety of project management groups can help you make valuable connections within the field of project management and gain valuable insights from others who have also gone through the PMP exam process.


The two most difficult challenges applicants will face throughout the process of obtaining a PMP certification are satisfying the prerequisite requirements and passing the exam itself. While the passing rate of the PMP exam is rumored to be about 60% for first-time test takers, the exam itself is designed to reflect the real-world situations that applicants have experienced while satisfying the prerequisite requirements.

Obtaining a PMP certification is a high honor for project management professionals, and understandably, not an easy credential to obtain. The PMP exam is comprised of 180 questions administered across a 230-minute time limit. The test is divided into questions that span across three categories: Process (50%), People (42%), and Business Environment (8%).

Ultimately, applicants who have satisfied the prerequisite experiences and prepared adequately for the exam should be well prepared to successfully pass the exam and obtain a PMP certification.

According to PMI, applicants can successfully obtain a PMP certification in 8–12 weeks once the application process is complete. However, the application process itself can take over 90 days, depending on how fast you can gather and produce the required documentation. Even applicants who are well prepared and have studied in advance should give themselves around 6 months to comfortably complete the exam and receive proof of their credentials.

Obtaining a PMP certification can be an excellent way to propel your career, or even help you transition into a new career as an established project manager. Here are just a few of the ways that a PMP certification can help your career:

Increase Your Earning Potential 

According to a report from the PMI, PMP-certified individuals earn, on average, $30,000 more per year than non-certified professionals. Whether you’re an experienced project manager looking to increase your earning potential or a newer project manager looking to take the next step, a PMP certification can be a tremendous investment in your career. 

Help You Make a Career Transition

Recent research from PMI shows that an additional 25 million project managers will be needed by 2030 to meet market demand. If you’re looking to transition into a career in project management, a PMP certification can help expedite that process. 

Expand Your Networking Opportunities

If you’re looking to expand your professional network, a PMP certification can help. PMP certifications show a dedication to project management, and obtaining such a powerful certification can help you expand your professional network by opening up opportunities for networking events, PMP-exclusive groups, and more. 

Help Your Resume Stand Out

PMP-certified individuals are globally recognized for outstanding experience in the field of project management. If you’re looking to help your resume stand out, or help increase your job security during uncertain times, obtaining a PMP certification is a great start.

If you have previously obtained a PMP certification, you are required to earn 60 PDUs in a 3-year cycle. PDUs, or Professional Development Units, are one-hour blocks of experience that show an ongoing commitment to project management education, volunteering, and teaching. 

You will have results within 1–2 weeks after taking the exam. If you pass, you will receive a congratulatory email from the PMI, and then you can see your name in the PMI certification registry and your certificate status.

You can take the exam up to 3 times within one year from your application approval date if you happen to not pass. However, if you fail the examination three times within the one-year eligibility period, you must wait one year from the date of the last examination you took to reapply for the credential.

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