Project Management Certification

It pays to be certified – at least in the realm of project management.

Certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs) outearn their uncertified peers by 20 percent, according to the Project Management Institute (PMI).

You likely already know this though. The challenge is figuring out how the heck you actually become certified. Where do you start? What are the requirements? Which certification should I get? And how does GoSkills and other project management course providers fit into the picture?

In this overview, we’ll answer all of the above. After reading, you will have a clear understanding of the precise, step-by-step path you must take to get certified and increase your salary.

Before we dive in, a quick note: While we’ll briefly discuss the different types of project management certifications toward the end of this guide, the majority of this resource focuses on the king of project management certifications – the PMP certification.

What is the PMP certification?

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PMI awards several project management credentials. The PMP credential, which demonstrates the utmost knowledge and experience of project management, is the most widely recognized across the globe.

How to get your PMP certification

Step 1: Meet the PMP Certification eligibility requirements

First and foremost, you must meet the eligibility requirements set forth by PMI. PMP eligibility is based on three things:

  • Academic education: Prove that you have a secondary degree by providing the name of your educational institution, your year of graduation and what you studied (major).
  • Project management experience: Depending on which category you fall under, you’ll need either 4,500 or 7,500 hands-on experience managing and directing projects professionally within the last eight years.
  • Project management professional training: Last but not least, you’ll need to complete 35 hours of project management specific training from a Registered Education Provider (REP). GoSkills is an REP and our PMP Certification Training course provides the required 35 hours of project management education. You can view the number of PDUs each of our project management courses is worth here.
Eligibility requirement Four-year degree Secondary degree*
Years of Project Management experience 3 years (36 months) 5 years (60 months)
Hours leading & directing projects 4,500 hours 7,500 hours
Hours of Project Management education 35 hours 35 hours

* A secondary degress is defined as a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent.

Step 2: Complete the application

Next, you’ll need to complete the online certification application on PMI. Before you begin, PMI recommends collecting the following information:

  • Contact information
    • Email
    • Address
    • Phone number
  • Attained education information
    • School attended
    • Level of education attained
    • Degree date
  • Domain experience information
    • Details of the projects, programs, portfolios you’ve worked on including:
      • Qualifying hours
      • Dates of employment
      • Role, organization details
      • Reference
      • Experience summary
  • Domain education information
    • Names of courses completed
    • Institutions attended
    • Dates attended
    • Qualifying hours

Step 3: Wait while PMI reviews your application

Once you submit your application, it will be valid for 90 days, while PMI validates that you are in fact eligible to take the PMP exam.

Expect an email response back from PMI within five to 10 days with information on next steps, assuming everything you submitted checks out.

Fun Fact: Regardless of certification, PMI audits a random percentage of applications so be honest! Read more about the auditing process here.

Step 4: Pay to take the PMP exam

Once your application is approved, it’s time to pay PMI to take its exam, which you can do through its online certification system.

If you’re a PMI member, the PMP exam will cost you $405. If you’re not a PMI member, then you’re looking at $555 to take the exam.

Upon payment completion, PMI will email you an “eligibility number” that you’ll need in order to make your appointment to take the exam.

It’s important to note that you’re only eligible to take the exam for up to one year after approval. And you only get three chances within that year to pass it.

Step 5: Make appointment to take the PMP exam

Finally, it’s time to make your appointment to take the exam at your local Pearson VUE.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions about step five, like: What’s the exam like? How should I prepare? The list goes on and on. Here are your answers.

Must-Know Information About the PMP Exam

The exam contains 200 multiple-choice questions that you must complete within four hours. Here’s a category breakdown of the questions:

  • Initiation (13%)
  • Planning (24%)
  • Executing (30%)
  • Monitoring and Controlling (25%)
  • Closing (8%)

If you pass each of the five categories above, you’ll immediately be a PMP for the next three years (every three years, PMPs must renew their certifications).

Immediately upon exam completion, you’ll know if you passed or not. If you fail the exam, you can retake it two more times – each time will cost you either $275 (PMI member) or $375 (PMI non-member).

As you can see, failing will cost you – literally – so it pays to prepare well the first time. Consider enrolling in a PMP certification training course, like this one, on GoSkills.

Step 6: Maintain your PMP certification

As we mentioned above, every three years, you’ll need to renew your PMP certification in order to still be a recognized PMP by PMI.

To maintain your certification, you’ll need to:

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