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  • Writer's pictureNathalie C. Chan King Choy

Is Getting the PMP Certification Worthwhile? Yes!

Updated: Aug 30, 2023


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With the threat of recession looming, and recent swaths of layoffs by companies big and small, plenty of people are considering how they can upskill to remain competitive during this time of uncertainty.


Who should consider studying for the PMP exam?


If you are an experienced Project Manager/Lead, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is definitely a credential to consider investing time in if you meet the eligibility requirements. Currently (in 2023), there are two eligibility options: (1) having a 4-year degree + 36 months leading projects in the last 8 years, or (2) having the equivalent of a high school diploma + 60 months leading projects in the last 8 years. [1]


How much effort is required?


35 hours of project management training OR having your CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) is required.[2] However, when I was preparing for my exam, I read that successful candidates were recommending 100-200 hours of study, which is a big sacrifice in our busy lives. I felt ready after about 100 hours and took my exam then, reasoning that the cost of my time to reach 200 hours of study was much higher than the fee to re-take the exam. I passed on the first try! :) You should gauge your own readiness level, as it will vary based on your professional experience and learning style.


Then to maintain the certification, 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) per 3 years are required, which works out to about 20 hours per year of work.


For me, this effort has been completely worthwhile.


Why is having the PMP certification so great?


PMP is a widely recognised certification, giving you credibility


PMI's PMP certification was established in 1984 [3] and PMI has become a globally recognised organisation with 650,000 members and 1.2 million PMP certification holders, as of 2023.[4] Although the complexity of projects and expected rigour differs from company to company, passing the PMP exam requires demonstrating a certain level of knowledge and prior experience.


Studying for the PMP exposes you to the PMBOK


PMI publishes the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which evolves to keep up with the latest in project management. Understanding the latest version of this guide is important for doing well on the exam. Consequently, studying for the PMP exam helped me to understand how the knowledge I gained from my hands-on experience fits in with the best practices that span industries.


Earning PDUs helps you stay current as best practices evolve


There are many ways to earn PDUs, which can be broadly categorised into Education and Contributing back to the profession. The list of what qualifies for Education PDUs is very broad, accommodating your individual needs and schedule. The education can range from informal learning from structured professional discussions, to event-based learning, to self-study, to formal courses. [5]


One way that I like to earn PDUs is to listen to presentations by practising Project Managers. While it is great to learn from your mistakes, it is even better to learn from the mistakes of others!


PMI also has plenty of materials on their website that reflect the current best practices, including some free courses.


Earning PDUs helps you grow as a leader


In the category of Contributing back to the profession, giving presentations, creating relevant learning content, or being a project management mentor are some options.[6] This provides the opportunity to practise skills as a leader and expert in the field. Sharing lessons learned helps other project managers avoid the pitfalls that you encountered.


Reported salaries are higher for PMP holders


PMI conducts a Project Management Salary Survey, which found in 2021 that PMP holders had a 16% higher global median salary compared to project leaders without their PMP. In the US, 32% higher was reported! [7]



Conclusion


When I was working in Silicon Valley, I had been advised that having your PMP wasn’t really necessary. While I did have a successful career trajectory without it, I do wish I studied for my PMP sooner. Summarising the benefits:

  • PMP is a widely recognised certification, giving you credibility

  • Studying for the PMP exposes you to the PMBOK

  • Earning PDUs helps you stay current as best practices evolve

  • Earning PDUs helps you grow as a leader

  • Reported salaries are higher for PMP holders



References


[3] Webster, F. M. (1994). Project management certification: the history. PM Network, 8(11), 24–25.

[4] www.pmi.org (17 July 2023)

[7] Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Twelfth Edition (2021)


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