The Four Steps to Become PMP® Certified

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This blog post is written by Joe Czarnecki, Strategy Execution VP of Product Development and Sales Support.

The four steps that you need to take in order to become Project Management Professional® (PMP) certified are:

  1. Complete your application
  2. Schedule the exam
  3. Study for the exam
  4. Take the Project Management Institute (PMI) PMP® Exam

In this article, we’ve broken down the first two steps to become PMP® Certified and the details aligned with completing your application and how to schedule your exam. The road to a certification is not necessarily a straight line – as you can see by the image below. But, you will need to start with applying.

A roadmap to becoming PMP Certified


The Three Steps to Complete the PMP® Exam Application

1)      Define Your Project Experience & the Project Sponsors’ Contact Information

As one of the most detailed applications out there, PMI’s PMP® Exam application process is estimated to take about eight to 10 hours of effort, however, can take up to 20 hours over a period of 2-3 weeks to complete. The application is online and allows 90 days to be completed from the day it is started.

The amount of detail that you need on the application depends by your educational background.

  • A Four-Year Degree (a bachelor’s degree, equivalent, or higher): You need to document 4,500 hours of project experience where you were leading and directing a project – this covers at least three years or 36 months of non-overlapping* professional project experience.
  • A Secondary Degree (high school diploma, an associate degree or equivalent): You will need to document 7,500 hours of project experience where you were leading and directing the project – that covers at least five years or 60 months of non-overlapping* professional project experience.

*Non-overlapping time requirement means you cannot double count a month just because you were working on two or more projects. While working on Project A – a six-month project that runs through June and in April you pick up Project B and that runs through September. Both are six-month projects, but they do not count as 12 months of experience – they only count as nine months.

For each of the projects that you document, you will need the contact details of each project sponsor or supervisor that you worked with as well. Because you may have worked on 10-15 projects to reach the required amount of project experience for the PMP, this can take some time to gather and input into the application.

2)      Take Your Formal Education Hours

Along with project experience and the contact information, to be eligible to apply for the PMP Exam, you will need to have at least 35 contact hours of specific instruction that addresses learning objective in project management. These hours need to be completed by the time you submit the application.

Of course, Strategy Execution’s PMP® Exam Power Prep Course gives you 36 formal education hours.

Note: If you have not met these requirements to become PMP® certified, PMI® offers the Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM®) exam that you can take. This certification is good for five years at which point you can either advance to the PMP® Certification exam or retake the CAPM® Exam to be recertified.

For more information about the type of detail you need to document in the application, please reference the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

3)      Submit Your Application & Get it Reviewed

Once completing the application and submitting it, PMI® will review and let you know within five days whether your application was approved, selected for audit or rejected.

  • If approved, you will receive a notice to pay for the exam. Once payment is processed, you will receive a letter of eligibility that gives you one year from the date of the application approval to self-schedule and take the exam.
  • If rejected, you will be told why it failed and you can try the application process again.
  • If selected for an audit – you will have 90 days to send in the requested audit materials. PMI® will be forthcoming with assistance to help you through this process but keep in mind they are trying to protect the validity of the credential while wanting to get more and more people certified – a delicate balance. Once approved, the process is as noted above.

With the Letter of Eligibility in hand, the application process is complete.

How to Schedule Your PMP® Exam

In your Letter of Eligibility, PMI® will direct you to Pearson VUE where you can schedule your exam date. We recommended that you schedule your exam date a few months out in order to give you enough time to study as well as reschedule if needed for any reason.

Once you have your date set, the studying process for the exam goes into full swing!

Read our previous blog post to learn about Why You Should Get PMP® Certified Before the Exam Changes.

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