What Is PMP Certification?
Every manufacturing and service organization has someone to coordinate the activities of their business to produce a product or deliver a service. Project managers are the glue to every organization and without this person conducting all the moving parts, business would grind to a halt. But not all project managers are created equally. Those who have invested the time, gained the experience, and have the knowledge can join the ranks of over over 700,000 certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) throughout the world. This designation, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), distinguishes qualified and experienced project managers and helps companies improve their processes.
Only experienced and knowledgeable project managers can gain certification since they must meet strict requirements and pass a lengthy, thorough exam. After being certified, they need to maintain their certification which requires further experience and education. The purpose of continuing education is to keep them current in their field to ensure they provide their company and clients with the best service possible.
Let’s take a look at the requirements and benefits involved in PMP certification.
Before anything else, a project manager seeking PMP certification needs to meet certain preliminary requirements. These come in two sets that the candidate can choose between. The first one includes:
- A secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or something similar
- 7,500 hours of experience directing or leading projects
- 35 hours of education in project management
Alternatively, candidates can meet these requirements, which require more formal schooling and fewer hours of practical experience:
- A four-year degree
- 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of education in project management
As such, candidates for the certification will not receive it right at the start of their career. They need to have obtained both formal education and training as well as roughly 2 to 4 years of practical workplace experience in the field. This is assuming they work full time as a project manager. Their education experience also needs to focus heavily on project management since both sets of prerequisites include 35 hours of project management education.
If the candidate meets these prerequisites, they can apply for certification and take the exam.
The Exam and the Project Life Cycle
To become certified, project managers have to complete an exam, which is done either electronically or on paper. The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions, 175 of which count toward the final score. The questions on the certification exam are based on their five process groups, which represent five stages of a project’s life cycle. These stages include:
- Monitoring and controlling
Out of these, the highest proportion of questions are dedicated to planning, executing, and monitoring/controlling projects. The idea is to make sure each project manager is proficient at running a project from the very beginning through to the very end. Within these five groups are items drawing on the ten knowledge areas used by PMI. These knowledge areas include:
- Project integration management
- Scope management
- Time management
- Cost management
- Quality management
- Human resource management
- Communications management
- Risk management
- Procurement management
- Stakeholder management
For a passing exam score, a project manager is expected to have knowledge in each of these areas since they often play a role in future projects in the field. After being certified, PMPs must maintain their certification by complying with continuous credential requirements (CCRs) and completing professional development units (PDUs). PDUs consist of activities such as:
- Writing articles
- Full-time work in a project management position
- Completing academic courses provided by PMI
PMPs can use any of the above to maintain their certification, but they need to complete 60 PDUs every three years to do so. This means project managers who hold this certification are busy working in their industry, learning more about how to better run projects, and contributing to the general base of knowledge in the field.
PMP Certified vs. Uncertified Managers
Given the rigors of obtaining and maintaining a PMP certification, Project Management Professionals tend to be more capable than uncertified individuals. Not only does the process of preparing for the certification assist in improving the individual’s knowledge base and skill, but it also indicates that the individual has a thorough experiential and educational background in project management. With the requirement for continuing education, PMPs are also learning and keeping up to date with the latest project management research, processes, and techniques.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that non-certified professionals are worse than PMPs. However, the certification does give both employers and clients the peace of mind of knowing that their project will be handled by someone who is officially recognized as a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced project manager. At a bare minimum, it reflects a baseline of skill. It also has a number of proven benefits when it comes to the quality and timeliness of projects.
Benefits of Working with Certified Project Managers
When entrusting any kind of project to a company, you want to be certain it will be completed on time, accurately, and in line with your company’s goals and best interests. PMP certified project managers are officially recognized as being capable and knowledgeable individuals who can see any given project through from beginning to end with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness. They have proven themselves capable of complying with the standards expected of them, and handling each project efficiently and intelligently.
In many fields, speed and accuracy are vital. For instance, in document management and conversion processes, a PMP certified project manager will be able to oversee a document digitization project in such a way that will ensure it is completed without errors or losses, all while achieving the finished result on time.
It’s been shown that companies who employ a significant proportion of PMP certified project managers tend to complete projects with a higher rate of success, without going over time or budget. When you entrust your project to a company with PMP certified individuals, you can expect the following benefits:
- Consistent costs: Certified project managers are more likely to keep to an established budget and complete a project with no unanticipated expenses.
- Timely delivery: PMPs can keep to a set schedule and complete a project on time by adhering to strict standards.
- Excellent communication: One of the purposes of the certification is to make sure project managers speak the same “language” as their clients. In other words, they are familiar with the business terminology used in their industry and by their clients, ensuring efficient, effective communication on project-related topics.
- Predictable results: The certification also serves to standardize project management practices, ensuring that each project will follow set procedures during its structuring and execution. PMPs are familiar with the requirements expected of them, including those concerning planning, quality control, and delivery.
Simply put, PMP certified project managers have passed through arduous training and preparation, shown themselves to be competent in their field, and are well acquainted with the best practices and requirements involved in managing a project in any industry. They benefit their employers and their clients by making sure each project is delivered as needed and on time, all with the highest standards of quality and accuracy in mind.
To learn more about ILM’s project management practices, contact us today.