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What is PMP certification and why get it?
PMP stands for Project Management Professional. PMP certification is offered by PMI (Project Management Institute) and those that obtain this certification demonstrate a proficient level of project management leadership skills. PMP certification is widely recognized by major companies and government agencies worldwide as the standard qualification for the role of project managers resulting in certificate holders commanding higher salaries than the others. According to the PMI website, as of July 2008, there are more than a quarter million certified professionals around the world. Many companies require their project managers to hold this certification and is growing in popularity every day.
Ten Steps to get PMP certification
1. Make sure you meet the criteria set by PMI before deciding to apply for the PMP certification.
Eligibility criteria for applying for PMP examination
a. You should have documents to prove that you had at least 35 contact hours of formal education in project management. Read my other hub to know more on how to get the 35 contact hours for applying for PMP certification.
b. If you have a Bachelor's degree, document at least three calendar years experience in project management during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing project tasks. Note that experience in all the five recognized project management process groups is required. The five process groups are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Control and Closing.
If you do not have a Bachelor's degree, applicants must have a minimum five years professional project management experience, during which at least 7,500 hours are spent leading and directing project tasks, within the past eight years from the time of application. Make sure to read the PMP Handbook published by PMI for more details. Note that you will have to provide the contact information of your manager or supervisor. If PMI chooses to audit your application, they will contact your manager for verification.
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2. Become a member of the PMI
As of July 2008, the annual membership dues are $129. PMI members get a discount on the PMP examination fee that is bigger than the annual membership fees so it financially make sense to become a PMI member if you are planning to take the PMP exam that year. You may not want to renew it the following year if you decide you don't want it anymore. In addition to the discount, you also get an electronic copy of PMBOK guide (reading this book is essential to prepare well for the exam) and networking opportunities within the PMI community.
Do not forget to check your local PMI chapter. Explore about their activities, courses and meetings and decide if you want to become a member of the local PMI chapter. Some chapters provide PMP preparation courses and seminars which you will find very useful. It is a great opportunity to meet new and experienced PMPs in person and learn from them. You will also meet people who are preparing for the PMP exam and you can form a study group and share knowledge.
3. Apply online for PMP certification at PMI (www.pmi.org)
a. You will be filling in all the details that are mentioned in above steps (1a) and (1b) along with your personal information, educational qualification, etc.
b. PMP Examination fees: $405 for PMI members. $555 for non-members. You can use your credit card to pay for this.
Make sure the application is complete. Do not forget to attach your resume. Once you apply, it may take upto 2 weeks for your application to get approved by PMI. If you apply online, the processing time is only 5 business days.
4. Start preparing for the exam. Read the PMP Handbook again and understand all the rules. Start reading on the internet about PMP exam, experiences of recent successful PMPs, lessons learnt during the process, etc. Join various forums dedicated to PMP examination on the internet and browse through and ask questions. You can learn a lot from other successful PMPs and those who are in the same boat as you. Refer to the links section below for a list of active PMP forums.
5. Schedule a date for PMP examination: If your application is approved, instructions will be sent to you from PMI and you can schedule a date for your exam. You may not get a date immediately. So, schedule the exam date well in advance. Once your application is approved, you have one-year eligibility period in which to pass the PMP exam. During this eligibility period, you may take the examination up to three times because candidates may not pass the exam on their first attempt. There is a $150 reexamination fee. If you fail three times in a year, you must wait one year to reapply.
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6. Exam preparation: Prepare rigorously for the exam. It may take anywhere from 3 to 6 months on average to prepare for the examination. I know some extreme cases where a person spent just 3 weeks preparing full-time and passed the exam.
Here are some study material that I suggest for PMP preparation and I have given the direct links to their Amazon pages on the right.
The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) guide. It looks like about 75% of the questions on the PMP exam come from the PMBOK guide. So, make sure you study this guide again and again. However, understand that the PMBOK guide is so dry that it is raw text material only with no interesting examples and is difficult to understand. There are well written books and audio tapes I am listing below to understand the concepts given in the guide in an interesting way.
PMP Audio workshop: If you are commuting a lot or traveling for a long time, audio books are a great way to use the time effectively. Note that some audio workshops also count towards your contact hours (remember you need at least 35 contact hours on training to be eligible for the exam). I suggest PMP Prepcast as it has a lot of positive feedback from many successful PMPs.
Hot Topics Flashcards for Passing the PMP and CAPM Exams (Audio CD) by Rita Mulcahy
The PMP Exam: How to Pass On Your First Try (Test Prep series) by Andy Crowe - Great first book to read to get an idea of the PMP exam.
Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam by Rita Mulcahy
Head First PMP: A Brain-Friendly Guide to Passing PMP Exam by Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene
7. Take a lot of model tests. There are a lot free PMP exam sample questions available on the internet that you should answer. Also, buy some model exams and take them as if they are real exams conducted by PMP. If you get 80% of the question right, you should be ready for the actual PMP exam.
8. Take the exam: The PMP exam is 4 hours long. Make sure you are fresh and relaxed on the day of the PMP exam. This means that you will need a good night's sleep the previous night. Have a good breakfast and drive to the testing center early. Do not forget to take your ID with you.
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