In today’s fast-paced business environment, the only thing standing in the way of you gaining a project management position over your competition could be whether or not you have earned the PMP credential. If you are considering earning your PMP certification to help increase your career prospects, you’ll need to prepare well and study hard. This is a major career accomplishment for project managers and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Preparation Is Everything
Before you start your journey down the PMP certification road, here are 7 easy steps to help guide you along.
- Believe in yourself. Don’t believe the hype. Attaining your PMP credential isn’t impossible. You can do it, but it takes time, dedication and a little hard work.
- Research. Determine whether you meet the requirements to obtain a PMP credential. Check the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® PMP handbookfor specific details.
- Experience must come from the last eight years of your career.
- Your education level will dictate how many hours you need in a project management role and how many education hours will be required.
- If you’ve reviewed the requirements and have determined you qualify, apply for membership to the PMI a few months before you think you will begin testing. Members receive discounts toward their studies and testing, along with other benefits.
- Prepare.Find appropriate preparation courses and practice tests. Most preparation courses will come with practice tests, but it never hurts to be over prepared. This is a pre-requisite to the Application process. Remember, a typical test will have 200 questions, of which 25 random questions will not be counted.
- Choose between an offline, in classroom setting, or an online test prep program. Many top-ranked universities offer PMP certification preparation online in partnership with the certifying body.
- Do some research and look for feedback on which preparation programs would be best for you and your style of study. If you can find online message boards and get direct advice from credentialed individuals, even better.
- Earn your required education hours now, and get familiar with the most recent edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® along with as much prep material you can mentally handle.
- Apply ASAP. The second-toughest hurdle you will face, the first being the exam itself, is the application process. During your application process you will be required to document your training and project hours and have already earned your education hours, as mentioned in Step 3 above.
- Wait. At this point in the process, the PMI will review your application. If you are approved, they will notify you and let you know what your exam fee will be. Expect to wait around one week. Don’t worry if you wind up being audited, as this happens from time to time as part of quality control.
- Schedule. Once you’ve submitted payment, you will receive notification to schedule your exam. You have a full year to do so before the window closes. Exam seats go fast and are available in limited quantities. You will need to be as flexible as possible since you are testing around their availability, not yours.
- Study. Now that you’ve scheduled your exam, you know how long you have to prepare. Between your study materials and training courses you should be well on your way to being fully prepared for the exam. It’s also important to note that the exam takes about four hours, so you should prepare yourself with a few mock exams, if possible.
These 7 easy steps will help get you started on your way to passing the PMP certification exam, but there’s a lot more to it than just following what we’ve discussed so far.
Knowledge Is Power and So Are Your Resources
Regardless of whether you Ask Jeeves, or perform your Internet searches with Google, Yahoo or MSN’s Bing, the minute you type in keywords like ‘PMP certification exam preparation’ or ‘PMP exam study guide’, you will be bombarded with tons of information.
As mentioned above, finding message boards to talk to PMP credentialed individuals is a great way to get useful and reliable tips; reliable being the key word. The good news is that not all study materials will cost you additional expenses. For instance, by joining the PMI, you are granted access to their library of Project Management books online, industry publications and studies, and of course, you can receive discounts toward exam prep and renewal prep.
If you decide to do your PMP certification preparation online, it will be a great way to receive quality test preparation and practice quiz questions. Plus, the instructors – who are usually PMPs themselves – can give you a wealth of tips on how they prepared and where to go for additional information.
Here are a few more tips directly from the PMI on how you can prepare for the exam.
- Expect to use at least 35 hours to prepare for the exam.
- You can view 3 sample PMP exam questions from PMI, here
- Visit the PMI Registered Education Provider (also known as R.E.P.) directory, here, to find PMI recommended exam prep courses and providers.
- And of course, read the most-current edition of the PMBOK.
An increasingly popular resource for professionals to use is Linked In. This is a great way to search professionals who also happened to have earned their PMP credential. This is not only a great way to get person-to-person feedback, but it’s a great networking tool as well.
Why You Can’t Afford to Not Earn Your Certification
According to data provided by the PMI, “One-fifth of the world’s GDP, or more than $12 trillion, is spent on projects.” Now take that number and think about this – in 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers performed a survey [PDF] that yielded the following statistic: “80% of high-performing projects use a credentialed project manager.”
If you take into consideration the state of the economy, increased need to save money and the necessity for quicker project cycles without error, you can argue that an increasing number of global companies are seeking credentialed project managers who are equipped with the latest techniques. It’s becoming increasingly clear that having your PMP credential is crucial to moving your career in project management to the next level.
As globally recognized credential for over 25 years, having the PMP credential next to your name proves to employers you have the experience and training to get the job done.