Understanding the Requirements to become PMP Certified

The value of obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is not disputed. It is the most important and widely accepted industry certification for project managers. And what’s more, those with a PMP certification earn 17 percent more than their peers without the certification, according to the Project Management Salary Survey—Eighth Edition.

But not everyone is automatically eligible to take the exam and obtain the certification. The Project Management Institute (PMI) requires specific prerequisites to ensure that all PMPs are “experienced project managers” in all aspects of project delivery.

Here’s an overview of the PMP Prerequisites

Option 1

  • 4-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • Minimum three years (36 months) of unique, non-overlapping professional project management experience
  • 35 hours of project management education

Option 2

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • Minimum five years (60 months) of unique, non-overlapping professional project management experience
  • 35 hours of project management education

Several Points of Clarification

As part of your application to PMI, you will need to document proof of achieving these requirements.

On your application, you will list each project with the following details: the starting month, the ending month, the name and contact information of a supervisor or project leader that can verify your work on the project, the number of hours you spent working in each of the five process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling and closing) and a brief project description.

The project experience requirements (both the minimum number of hours and minimum number of calendar months) must be accrued within the last eight years prior to your application submission.

Sometimes way the requirements are worded, it would seem that the minimum number of hours has to be fulfilled within the minimum number of months required. This is not the case. The minimum hours requirement is calculated completely separately from the minimum months requirement. They are two separate requirements. (For example, in my application, I logged projects that totaled just over 4,500 hours that spanned a total of 38 calendar months.)

When looking at the total 4,500 or 7,500 experience hours, you need to have some time – at least one hour – logged in each of the five process groups on your application.

However, on a single project, you do not need to have experience in all five process groups. For example, in my application, I had a few projects where I wasn’t involved in the initiation and planning, and so I didn’t include any hours in those process groups and just listed the hours I worked in the other process groups.

When totaling your project hours to get to the minimum of 4,500 or 7,500 hours, if you worked on multiple projects at one time, all the hours count toward the total.

For each month in which you worked on multiple, overlapping projects, you can only count the time spent on ONE of those projects toward fulfilling the minimum number of months requirement. Using the example illustrated below, the time spent working on Project 1 from January–April would count as four months toward the months requirement, while the time spent working on Project 2 during May–June would count as two months toward the months requirement. However, you cannot count the time working on both projects during February–April twice. Therefore, Project 1 and Project 2 equal six months (January–June) of project management experience toward your eligibility requirement.

MonthRequirements

The required 35 hours of project management education can be from any relevant training you’ve had in the past – even if it has been more than 8 years ago.

On your application, you will need to list several details regarding your 35 hours of project management education: the course title, institution name, course start and end date, number of hours and qualifying hours. (If only a portion of a course dealt with project management, only the hours spent on project management can be applied toward the total.)

PMI membership is not mandatory. However, the cost of the exam is discounted more than the cost of the membership for members. So financially, it makes sense to become a member before paying for the exam.

And of course, you need to pass the certification exam. The exam has 200 multiple-choice questions, and you have four hours to complete it. To maintain your PMP, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years. Learn more about PDUs from PMI, click here.

What If You Don’t Meet the Requirements for PMP Certification?

So what do you do if you don’t meet these PMP requirements? That’s okay. You can work towards fulfilling the PMP requirements and in the meantime obtain PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. This certification is more of an entry-level certification and provides great value for aspiring project managers.

Click here for additional information on the PMP from PMI.