How to Get PMP Certification in 4 Steps in 2024

A Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is one of the best project management certifications. It’s an ideal way to shine among your competitors, but first, you’re required to complete work experience, training, and an exam to attain this credential.

In this article, we’ll explain how to get a PMP certification, breaking down the steps, costs, and requirements involved in the process. Let’s dive right in.

  1. Work Experience

    To achieve PMP certification, you need a mixture of formal training and hands-on experience. To begin the process of becoming PMP certified, you need work experience in project management.

    The exact amount of work experience necessary for your case will vary depending on your education – generally, you’ll need between 36 and 60 months of experience for your PMP certification.

  2. PMP Training

    To clarify, the process of earning your PMP certification involves a combination of work experience and formal training.

    If you have a CAPM certification, you can skip this step, but if not, you must complete 35 hours of additional PMP training. These are also known as “contact hours“.

    This can be accumulated by following a formal PMP course online or in person. Depending on your availability, this course can last a couple of weeks or months.

    Contact hours are designed to arm you with the necessary knowledge to pass your PMP certification exam.

    Depending on your level of education, here are the prerequisites to achieving the certification:

    With a bachelor’s degree:

    • 36 months of project management work experience
    • 35 contact hours or CAPM certification

    Without a bachelor’s degree:

    • 60 months of project management work experience
    • 35 contact hours or CAPM certification

      Once you’ve fulfilled the relevant requirements for your level of education, you can begin thinking about sitting the PMP exam.

    1. PMP Exam

      The PMP exam is the next step in working towards your PMP certification. You can apply via the Project Management Institute (PMI) by proving your eligibility for the exam.

      This includes submitting evidence of work experience and the training you’ve completed. If you’re a member of the PMI, the exam will cost $284, while non-members will pay $555.

      PMI membership costs $109/year and offers you savings on PMP certification training, the exam, and renewal. Plus, you’ll get networking opportunities and a free download of the PMBOK guide.

      While it’s up to you how long you spend preparing, the exam is notoriously difficult, with a rather low pass rate, so it’s recommended that you leave yourself at least a few months to study.

      It is recommended that you sit the exam in person at a Pearson Vue Testing Center, but it’s also possible to take it securely online, too.

      Here is a rough guide on what you can expect in the PMP exam:

      • A 3-hour 50-minute long exam, with two 10-minute breaks. 180 questions in total
      • Half of the questions are oriented around ‘process’, testing your understanding of the methodology of project management.
      • Less than half will focus on ‘people’, testing your ability to handle conflict, build and manage a team, and offer support.
      • A small portion of the exam will test your knowledge of more broad ‘business management’ features of project management.

      The questions are a combination of multiple choice, matching, and some fill-in-the-blank answers. Overall, the test is a combination of Agile project management and more predictive approaches.

    2. Maintain Your PMP Certification

      Remember that you’ll need to renew your PMP certification every 3 years to maintain your title, this involves two factors:

      1. You must pay a renewal fee every three years. This is $60 for PMI members and $150 for non-members.
      2. You must complete further education in the form of Professional Development Units (PDUs) which are logged in your online Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) system

      To expand on the second point, with a PMP, you’ll need to complete 60 PDUs in a three-year cycle. These are broken into two categories; Education and Giving Back.

      You’ll need to complete a minimum of 35 Education PDUs and 25 Giving Back PDUs.

    PMP Certification Costs

    Here is a breakdown of all the costs involved in the process of attaining your PMP certification:

    PMP Training Course $300-$3,000
    PMP Exam $284 (PMI members) or $555 (non-members)
    PMP Renewal $60 (PMI members) or $150 (non-members)

    Preparing for the PMP Exam

    Since the exam isn’t cheap, ideally, you’ll pass the exam on your first attempt. While it’s a difficult exam, it’s by no means impossible. Here are a few tips to avoid a retake:

    Use the PMBOK GuidePreparation CoursePMI's Free AssetsFind Study Buddies

    You’ll want to become friendly with the PMBOK guide. This is the bible for all things PMP, provided by the PMI, detailing everything you need to know to pass the exam.

    Choose an exam preparation course. Training in an organized group can help better retain information for the exam and also count toward the ‘contact hours‘ you’ll need for the exam.

    Maximize PMI’s free online assets. While much of its content is paid, PMI also offers 7 free courses that will help you familiarize yourself with the key concepts covered in the exam.

    Find online or in-person study buddies. Sharing the journey with other professionals can help the process feel less daunting and be great for expanding your network.

    Is Getting Project Management Certification Worth it?

    Given that it’s no easy feat, you may wonder whether working toward your PMP project management certification is worth it. The first major factor in this decision is the cost.

    The initial cost isn’t cheap, nor is the ongoing renewal. That said, as the most prestigious accreditation a project manager can get, PMP certification will allow you access to top salary ranges.

    This can outweigh the upfront cost. According to Indeed, project managers typically make between $56,500 and $88,010 per year. Comparatively, PMP certification can boost this by 33% on average.

    This is a significant increase that can make up for the time and money spent on becoming certified. PMP certification can also boost your industry recognition.

    Holding the most highly recognized project management qualification is concrete evidence of your proficiency and speaks for itself when applying for jobs or networking within the industry.

    Given the eligibility requirements and cost of the PMP certification, it suits project managers with reasonably established careers.

    If you don’t yet fulfill the requirements, we recommend first attaining a CAPM certification, which is a more lightweight qualification that still boosts your credibility within the field.

    Conclusion

    Being the most widely acclaimed qualification for project managers, PMP certification is no walk in the park. To even start thinking about it, you should fulfill the work experience prerequisites.

    Then you must ensure you have adequate time to dedicate to studying, as well as the funds to train for and sit the exam. That said, once achieved, PMP certification offers unparalleled benefits.

    It allows you to access top salary bands while cementing your credibility as a project manager better than any other qualification.

    FAQs

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    Alice Martin
    Senior Writer

    Alice Martin has five years experience as a writer before joining Techopedia in 2024. After completing an interdisciplinary degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, she began writing in the arts and music industries. Driven by a love of research and analysis, Alice turned her attention towards all things software and technology. She now offers expert advice in these fields to help readers make informed decisions.