In a leisurely conversation with a friend about the ROI for an MBA versus PMP certification, I figured that US schools (alone) awarded approximately 100,000 MBA degrees in the year 2008. That number when put into a combined perspective with other global business schools, puts the total number of MBA’s in the world to at least a few millions. In contrast, as of March 2018, there were only 833,025 PMP certified individuals in the world. Citing another report by PMI, PMP certified professionals tend to earn around 20% higher wages than who are not certified. Additionally, the median salary of a PMP certified professional with 5-10 years of experience in Canada is around $113000. Which is good match for a fresh MBA graduate with an average take home of $72654, especially when you factor in the exuberant cost of an MBA. I realized that there are several other things that people don’t know about Project Management Professional Certification and decided to write an article to answer the most widely asked questions about the PMP certification-
What is Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)?
Managed by a US based non-profit organization called Project Management Institute (PMI), Project Management Professional (PMP) is the gold standard for project management certification. Its prominence has grown so much that it is almost an unsaid expectation when you are applying for a Project Manager’s role these days. PMI has over 500,000 international members and runs 300+ local chapters around the globe, which makes PMP one of the most widely accepted and regarded certifications internationally.
What industry or sector is PMP certification for?
The best thing about Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification is that it cuts through several industries and it gives you phenomenal flexibility in terms of the industries that you could target for your next role. PMP modules are designed in such a way that the tools and techniques could be readily applied to any project regardless of the industry. Even though PMP certification is relevant for every industry, there are a few which tend to hire more of PMP certified professionals. Here is the list –
• Engineering and Construction
• Technology/Information Technology
• Financial Services
• Legal Services
How does one get PMP certified?
The process of enrolling and appearing for the PMP exam is straightforward. However, the catch lies in the prerequisites. There is a list of must-haves provided by PMI before one could even apply for a PMP certification exam. You would need a four-year bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 3 years of project management experience where you are required to have spent at least 4500 hours leading and directing projects. If you do not have a four-year degree, then you either need a secondary diploma or a global equivalent. In this case you would need at least 7500 hours of leading and directing projects. Additionally, you need 35 hours of PMP education training. Make sure that you vet the training institute and confirm that it is affiliated with PMI as you would need to submit a proof for the same.
Note: You do not need to have been a Project Manager to qualify for the exam. “Directing and Leading”
a project only means that you must have played an important role in the project where you directed the course of the project at different occasions.
How to prepare for PMP certification exam?
The answer to this question would vary based on how urgent it is for you take the exam and what’s your capacity to accommodate a schedule for the studies. I have seen my students passing the exam within a week, but I have also seen people waiting for a year before they even take the exam. I personally recommend my students to dedicate 2-3 months for preparation before they appear for the exam. But you need to follow an approach that works for you. I have written a separate article with more details on “How to prepare for a PMP certification” but here is a quick snap shot for you –
Check your eligibility- This needs to be the first step before you commit to anything.
Manage expectations – Make space to include study hours in your daily schedule. I suggest my students to speak with their families, friends and, if possible, colleagues. It’s always helpful to do so because prepping for PMP certification will leave you with lesser time for your usual engagements.
Have an efficient and realistic study plan – Assuming you will take 3 months of prep time, set aside 180 – 240 hours. This makes it an average of 2-3 hours of dedicated study time every day. Make a schedule accordingly and follow it to the “T”.
Take mock tests – Your performance tends to decrease during an actual test as stress kicks in. PMP certification is a 4-hour long exam and you need to make sure that you take up at least 5-10 mock tests to develop the stamina to tackle stress and mental fatigue.
Have a healthy lifestyle – Do not compromise on sleep or a good diet and make sure you are taking at least 30 minutes to unwind.
What does the PMP exam look like?
PMP exam is four-hour long and carries 200 multiple choice questions which are spread along 5 domain areas (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and closing) and 6 question types (Formula Based, Situational, Knowledge Based, Interpretational, Specific Technique Based, PMBOK Guide Based questions). Each of the domains carries different weightage in the exam and you should try to divide your study time according to that. However, do not hesitate in spending extra time on concepts that need more work.
How much does it cost to take PMP exam?
Non-members need to pay $555 (US) to take the PMP exam whereas a PMI member pays $405 (US) for the same. The membership cost is $129 (US) which means its better that you become a member first and then register for the exam as it also gives you other benefits such as discounts on other certifications, access to global network, free tools and templates etc. The membership has an annual renewal fee of $119 (US), but it could be a good investment if you are able to get value of it. There would be an additional cost for taking the 35-hour educational training. The average training cost in Canada ranges from CAD500 – CAD5000. Add to it another CAD 200 – CAD 500 in case you are planning to buy study material besides the official PMBOK Guide. Overall, getting Project Management Professional Certification could be a very sound investment if you are able to extract the desired result out of it.