Anyone with project management experience knows that passing the PMP certification exam and becoming a certified project manager is one of the best decisions you can make for your career.
Earning any professional certification can be challenging and intimidating, but with the right combination of determination, study materials, and courses, you will find yourself ready to ace the exam in no time.
What Is the PMP Certificate?
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most globally recognized project management certification. Project managers everywhere are earning this certification, and we can see why.
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Most employers are more likely to hire project managers with a PMP certification than candidates without one, and there are many jobs you won’t be able to get without one. This certification proves your professional experience and skills in the realm of project management. Combine this certification with a project management PhD and you’ll have no problem finding a job.
What Are the Benefits of Earning a PMP Certificate?
There are many benefits to earning project management certification, and not all of them have to do with your pay. In fact, there are a wide variety of reasons we recommend taking the PMP exam.
- Higher Salary. As is the case with most jobs, you will likely receive a higher salary with a professional certificate. Since the PMP is the most globally recognized project management certification, it is one of the best ways to take your annual salary to the next level.
- Career Opportunities. Project managers are in high demand right now, and it is a competitive field. Having a PMP certification is a great way to crush the competition and get hired for that dream project management position.
- New Skills. Spending time studying for the PMP certification will help you build upon your current skill set while learning all-new skills at the same time. Expanding your skillset is a fantastic way to improve both your personal and professional life.
- Recognition. Being recognized as a certified professional isn’t everyone’s dream, you have to admit, it does sound cool. With PMP certification, you will be more than a self-proclaimed expert and no one can deny it.
Earning Your PMP
While there are a few requirements you must meet prior to registering to take the PMP certification exam, it should not be difficult for project management professionals to meet them. You can enroll in PMP classes and training courses to help you learn everything you need to know.
How Long Does It Take to Become PMP Certified?
There really isn’t a designated time it takes to become PMP certified. There are a few requirements you will need to meet prior to taking the PMP certification exam, and it will take you between two and six years to meet them all. Since there are different paths you can take to meet the requirements, your PMP certification may be earned at a different pace than others.
Once you make it to the actual exam, you will be given four hours to complete the test. You may be able to complete it faster than the time given, but you can count on spending a good portion of your day taking this exam.
How Much Does the PMP Cost?
When preparing to take the PMP exam, you will want to determine how much you have to spend on the exam. If you have a PMI membership, or are considering getting one, the PMP exam is only $405 for PMI members. Without a PMI membership, you will pay $555 to take the exam.
In order to be eligible for the PMP certification exam, you will need to follow one of three paths. The first option is to earn a high school diploma or associate degree, 60 months of hands-on project management experience, and 35 contact hours of formal project management education.
The second path is earning a four-year bachelor’s degree, 36 months of experience, and 35 hours of project management education. Finally, the third option is earning a postgraduate degree, 24 months of experience, and of course, 35 hours of project management education.
What Is on the PMP Exam?
The PMP Exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You will be tested over five different categories: executing, planning, monitoring and controlling, initiating, and closing.
During the allotted four hours, you will be expected to focus on and answer as many of the questions correctly as possible. This test is scored on a range of below proficient to proficient, with all five categories being scored together rather than separately.
How to Become PMP Certified: Step-by-Step
Following this step-by-step guide is the best way to earn your PMP certification. While everyone has a different way of doing things, this guide provides the perfect base for earning your PMP certification.
- Complete Prerequisites. Since you cannot even qualify for the exam without meeting one of their three sets of requirements, it is best to take care of this right away. If you want to take just a few project management courses, you can go for an associate degree, or if you want to further your formal education, you can earn a project management master’s degree.
- Study. Once you know you are eligible for the exam, you need to begin studying. This exam can be difficult to pass if you are not prepared, so we recommend picking up a PMP handbook, taking a few mock exams, and getting busy with your studies.
- Apply to Take the Exam. When you feel confident you have studied enough and are ready to ace the PMP certification exam, you will have to apply to take the exam. You will have to include proof that you have met the prerequisites, and you will receive a response in 3 to 5 days. If you are able to take the exam, you will be given an option to pay for and schedule it.
- Take the Exam. On exam day, you will likely be a bit nervous, but as long as you studied hard, you will have nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that the exam is timed, but you can always take it again.
- Maintain Certification. Every three years, a cycle will restart and you must earn an additional 60 PDUs to maintain your certification. If you are unable to do so, your certification will be considered invalid, and you may have to take the exam again.
The Best PMP Courses and Training Programs
One of the very best ways to prepare for the PMP certification exam is to enroll in courses and training programs. You can also take practice exams to get an idea of what the actual exam will feel like. Below you will find some of our favorite courses, training programs, and practice tests.
Best PMP Practice Exams
Taking a practice exam or two can be very similar to studying with flashcards, but better. This way of studying helps you get a feel for the exam while you continue to test your knowledge. These two practice exams are some of our favorites.
- Provider: PM Exam Simulator
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $139
The PMP Exam Simulator is often considered the closest simulator to the actual PMP certification exam. This practice exam costs $139 and is updated every year to match the actual exam questions and overall feel. At the time this article was written, you can take both the 2020 and 2021 versions of the practice exam.
- Provider: Project Management Prepcast
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
For a more cost-effective way of studying, you can check out Project Management Prepcast’s free PMP practice exam. With no cost at all, this practice exam includes 120 questions designed to be realistic and legitimate examples of questions you may see on the PMP certification exam.
Best PMP Training Programs
Enrolling in a PMP training program is a great way to ensure you pass the certification exam. These are a couple of our favorite courses, and there are many others available if neither of these suits your needs.
- Provider: simplilearn
- Length: 90 days
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $999
While a bit more on the pricier side, this $999 PMP certification training course offered by simplilearn will ensure you are more than prepared for your PMP certification exam. This training course consists of the 35 education hours required to take the exam, 6 hands-on projects to aid in learning, and 7 different 200-question practice exams.
- Provider: Master of Project Academy
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Varies
The Master of Project Academy offers a fantastic training program for anyone hoping to earn a PMP certification. This training program takes care of the requirement of 35 education hours needed to qualify for the exam, as well as over 750 practice questions, a practice exam, cheat sheets and study guides, and the ability to learn everything at your own pace.
Best PMP Online Courses
While some people learn best in-person, it can be quite easy and convenient to switch to online learning. Online classes allow you to study on your own time, at your own pace, and wherever you can focus best.
- Provider: Coursera
- Length: 6 months
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $777
Coursera is well-known for offering a variety of useful courses, and this PMP course is no exception. The UCI Project Management Professional Certificate course is offered through the University of California at Irvine for $777, and takes four to six months to complete. Throughout the duration of this course, you will meet all of the requirements necessary and learn everything you need to know about the PMP certification.
- Provider: Udemy
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Varies
As with all Udemy classes, the price for this course varies depending on when you enroll. At the time of writing, this PMP Exam Prep Seminar cost $12.99 due to a promotional sale, but it is regularly $94.99.
This course takes approximately 25 hours to complete, but is totally self-paced so you can take as much or as little time as you need. Upon completion, you will have earned the necessary 35 hours to qualify for the exam, and you should feel completely prepared to ace the certification exam.
Best Online PMP Resources and Study Guides
Can’t get enough study materials? Don’t worry- we have more. These are some of our favorite online resources and study guides to help you feel as prepared as possible when you walk into the PMP certification exam.
PM Master Prep offers a wide array of PMP certification exam study materials. From self-paced and live online courses to an exam simulator, you will never run out of study options with this website. All materials are available for purchase, and there is even a section full of free study goodies for those looking to spend a bit less on the exam.
This study guide by Oliver Lehman contains 200 prep questions that resemble questions you would find on the certification exam. Along with the useful example questions, there are detailed explanations about the correct answers to the questions, allowing you to not only practice taking the exam, but to actually learn the answers rather than simply memorizing the correct choices.
Why Should I Become PMP Certified?
We will be honest with you; it does take a lot of work to become PMP certified. The amount of time and money most people put into this certification throws a lot of others off and may have you questioning if becoming PMP certified is worth it. But, when you factor in the job possibilities and salary you will earn, you will see the PMP certification is totally worth it.
PMP Job Possibilities
The biggest job opportunity you will find with a PMP certification is as a project manager in various industries. While many of these jobs can be achieved without a PMP certification, it is becoming more and more common for employers to require candidates to be certified prior to or sometime during employment.
Even if it is not a necessity for the position you want, having this certification will put you way ahead of the competition during project management interviews, making it that much more likely for you to get the job.
According to PMI’s Project Management Salary survey, project managers who are PMP certified earn an average of $112,000 per year. Compared to the project manager salaries of those without the PMP certification, those certified often receive an average of 23 percent higher pay than those who are certified. While earning a high salary may not be your entire focus, we can all admit it is nice to earn significantly more in your field than you had previously expected to. When all is said and done, earning a PMP certification will benefit you in many ways, and will ultimately help you advance your career as a project manager.
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