3 Unknowns of the PMP® Certification Exam
There’s a lot you should know about the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam prior to taking it. In particular, you should know that passing this exam could have a huge impact on your salary. It’s estimated that if you’re a Project Management Professional® credential holder, you could make 22% more on average than your peers.
However, when it comes to actually taking the exam, there are a few important facts to keep in mind before you start the exam preparation process. Below are a few things you might not know about the PMP® certification exam process, and how these factors could impact your exam performance.
Test Prep Goes Beyond a Booklet
If you’re preparing for the PMP certification exam, you might think that simply getting a test prep booklet and reading through it will be enough to get you a passing score. However, because the exam is designed to make sure you’re equipped for success in today’s workforce, it requires far more preparation than casual studying.
The first thing you should know about the PMP certification exam is the requirements you need to meet before you can even sit for the exam. To start, you need either a four-year degree or a secondary degree (like your associate degree). If you have a four year degree, you need 3 years of project management experience during which you accumulated 4,500 hours of non-overlapping project management experience. If you have a secondary degree, you need 5 years of project management experience during which you accumulated 36 months of non-overlapping project management experience.
You also need project management-specific education. So, before you can apply to the exam, you must accumulate 35 hours of project management education. Fortunately, these project management education hours don’t expire, meaning all the project management-specific hours you’ve earned over your life count. If you earned 10 hours five years ago, and 25 this year, you’re eligible for the exam.
Fortunately, there are PMP certification exam prep workshops and programs that go beyond basic study materials and set you up not just to meet your goal of passing the exam, but passing it with ease. The best training, like that offered by Project Management Academy, includes materials that engage learners in a more comprehensive study experience. These materials include online lectures, practice exams, exercise books, and more.
Because the PMP certification exam requires you to dedicate a lot of time and money to the process, you want to ensure you earn a high return on your investment and pass the exam. You need to minimize the chance that you’ll have to pay to take the exam over, so evaluate your course options carefully and choose the best one.
You Might be Audited
Some PMP certification exam participants might be surprised to find that there’s a chance you could be audited to validate your prerequisites. About 5 to 10% of those who sit for the PMP exam are randomly audited to verify their eligibility. You don’t want to add stress to an already high-pressure experience! So to avoid extra stress and allow you to focus on the exam itself, you need a plan in the event your materials are audited.
First, it’s important to know what materials will need to be audited. If you’re randomly selected for an audit, you have 90 days to submit the following documents:
- Proof of your Degree
- Proof that you completed 35 hours of project management education
- Signed experience verification forms
It’s crucial that you have documentation to verify your 35 hours of project management education. If you haven’t already completed this, make sure you choose a course provider that offers up documentation showing when you complete your courses. You also want to be sure the organization you choose can support you through the audit process.
Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) are a Must
Passing the PMP certification exam is a big challenge completed, but the process doesn't’ stop there. Earning your certification once does not mean you’re certified for your whole life. Unlike a traditional degree, you must fulfill certain educational requirements to maintain your certification, like collecting 60 PDUs every three years. This ensures you stay up-to-date on the latest project management strategies, and you’re equipped to manage any project that comes your way.
There are a few features you should look for when choosing an organization for your CCR activities. First, choose an organization for your initial 35 hours of formal project management education that also offers follow-up courses, so you’ll already be familiar with the organization and its processes. Plus, if you had a good experience with them in the past, you can trust that you’ll get positive results again.
Next, you should look for an organization that offers flexible course options that work best for your schedule. Your PMP credential is designed to support your professional development, not interrupt it. Choose a course provider that offers flexible, customizable development paths to meet your scheduling needs, regardless of where you are in your career.
Also, look for an course provider that regularly updates their course offerings. Because you want to stay relevant and ahead of project management trends, choose a provider that updates or adds to their training materials monthly. This ensures you’re always on the cutting edge of project management strategies.
Finally, and most importantly, look for an organization that makes reporting your PDU completion to the PMI hassle-free. This means choosing an organization offering PDUs that have been pre-approved by the Project Management Institute, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not the courses you’re taking will be counted.
Earning the PMP certification is a huge accomplishment, and could be the perfect next step in your career. Although preparing for and actually passing the PMP certification exam might seem like a laborious process, don’t forget that it can be a rewarding one, too. When you keep these facts in mind as you prepare for the exam, you’re sure to earn and maintain your certification with ease.