What is a Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)?

September 23, 2021 | Admin

PMP Certification

Project management happens in nearly all industries. While some workplaces see so many projects that they specifically hire people to hold the title of project manager, many will opt to allow department leads to perform the role. As the economy continues to move in the direction of being project-based, project management is becoming a vital part of business, and a project management professional certification will only open doors.

What is a Project Management Professional Certification (or “PMP Certification”)?

A PMP Certification is an achievement with the Project Management Institute in which someone with sufficient project management credentials is recognized for their knowledge and given a documented acknowledgment that select criteria has been met.

What Does a Project Management Professional Do?

A project management professional spearheads a particular project for a company. This includes coordinating the employees of each department that will be involved, delegating tasks among these groups and individuals, assessing risks and hangups, budgeting resources and time, and knowing the critical factors for success. The PMP will be expected to be familiar enough with the subject of the project to provide answers and guidance to the team.

Why are Project Manager Professionals Important?

Not everyone on a team will have the same skills as the rest of the team. A PMP is expected to know the responsibility and deliverable distribution breakdown well enough to help the left hand know what the right hand is doing. As different departments have unique focuses and perspectives of priority compared to each other, the PMP is to know which priority is high and which is low for each aspect of the project.

How to Become a Certified Project Management Professional

Certification is more than just taking a test to see if you pass. It is a title that requires a combination of experience and education so that PMP Certification stands out over someone with just a degree, or who only has vaguely-relevant work experience. There are a couple of paths that are common for people to use when seeking this title.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® program offered by the Project Management Institute is an excellent gateway towards Project Management Professional Certification. It allows for those lacking sufficient direct project management experience, or a four-year degree in project management, a chance to get to PMP Certification. A high school diploma and 23 hours of project management education are all it takes for you to be eligible to take the 150-question exam.

Once complete, CAPM® holders must obtain 15 hours of Professional Development Units every three years to maintain certification. For those lacking the 35 hours of project management education necessary for PMP Certification, yet holding the experience and other education requirements, the CAPM® takes you from ineligible to eligible.

Education, Exams, or Experience Needed for PMP Certification

Getting the full PMP Certification takes time, education, and experience. The first round of requirements are:

  • A bachelor’s (four-year) degree;
  • 36 months of experience leading projects; and
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification.

Alternatively, the requirement of a four-year degree can be waived in exchange for more work experience. This adjusts the requirements to:

  • High school diploma or equivalent, or associate’s degree;
  • 60 months of experience leading projects; and
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification.

Once the minimum requirements are met, you will be eligible to apply for the examination. Successfully completing the exam will grant you project management professional certification. Much as a CPA, CAPM®, or select medical professional is expected to continue professional educational requirements to maintain any certifications, PMPs must do likewise.

Certified PMP Career Outlook

The American economy has grown from an industrial-based one to a service-based one. Freelancing is on the upswing because of a bustling “gig economy”, which is a product of businesses focusing on project-based work. PMI estimates that in the ten years between 2017 and 2027, the demand for project management professionals will increase by over 87 million.

It was also earlier mentioned that project management isn’t limited to any particular industry. Across multiple fields, PMPs are growing in numbers and in salary. Currently, the five highest paying jobs for a PMP are:

Engineering Project Management

An engineering PMP often works on a major creative project that will have multiple teams in play. The current average US salary for engineering PMPs is $124,434.

Aerospace Project Management

An aerospace PMP works with engineers and designers to make sure new aircraft are completed on time and within a budget, with a strong focus on risk management and quality control. The current average US salary for aerospace PMPs is $129,732.

Pharmaceutical Project Management

Being a constantly growing industry, these PMPs work with doctors and researchers to ensure that development of medications and treatments are completed. The current average US salary for pharmaceutical PMPs is $133,246.

Consulting Project Management

A consulting PMP works as a project manager for a consulting company rather than as a consultant who specializes in project management. This PMP is a floater among industries depending on a specialty. The current average US salary for consulting PMPs is $134,149.

Resources Project Management

A resources PMP works with farms, mines, and oil companies with the goal of maximizing what is extracted with as little waste and expenditure as possible. The current average US salary for resources PMPs is $134,577.

Because of the project-based economy becoming a part of all sectors, PMPs can have unique work environments even though they may form a similar function. Crossover is also possible. An aerospace project manager of one company may work directly with the engineering project manager of a contracted company.

Project Management Professional Certification opens doors in multiple ways.

  • Enhances your resume. Hiring managers are aware that certifications such as these aren’t issued to just anyone who applies. It is a way to validate your experience and accomplishments.
  • Networking opportunities. Project Management Institute offers local/regional chapters for members to join. This offers opportunities to meet other PMPs in the area as well as offer an opportunity for companies who hire PMPs to get to see you in the community.
  • Familiarity. As with all industries, there are aspects that are particular to PMPs. By being a part of a specialized community, you will become more acclimated to PMP issues.
  • Certified PMPs are in demand. In today’s economy, those who make hiring decisions often opt to pass over people with similar experience and credentials for the opportunity to go with a person who has a certification.

Project management requires a particular set of skills due to the eclectic nature of the work. These include:

  • Communication. Project managers will be managing several people across multiple departments. You will need to be able to get your ideas across to others as well as understand what they are trying to tell you.
  • Organization. Because project managers deconstruct tasks that get split into sections and dispersed across teams, it is crucial that a project manager is able to keep tabs on what is going on at each step.
  • Adaptability. Things do not always go according to plan. Some things are unknown until you make an attempt. A project manager must be able to adjust to new information and implement necessary changes as soon as possible.
  • Empathy. It is important to understand the motivations of individuals when you have a variety of them working for you. Accounting will have a different priority than Legal, who will have a different priority than Human Resources, so on and so forth. Knowing where an individual is coming from will help you serve as a liaison between groups as well as help you be aware of concerns unique to each department.
  • Stoicism. Because of a variety of stressors, primarily the rapid-changing environment of the workplace, project managers must be able to remain cool under pressure. Last-minute issues with a looming deadline happen. At that point, a calm head can make the difference between success and failure.
  • Leadership. A default of the management title, a project manager must be able to lead, not only a team, but often a team of teams.

Project Management Professional Certification Resources


Is the PMP Certification just for “titled” project managers?

No. Many project managers tend to fall into the duty without ever taking the title. However, the experience is still valid.

What is the PMP Certification test like?

It is a 200-question test with multiple choice options. 25 of these are not counted towards your score, but they are chosen at random. It is broken into five categories: Initiation; Planning; Executing; Monitoring; and Closing.

How long is the PMP Certification valid?

Certification lasts for three years. For so long as minimum PDU credits have been maintained, renewal will not require taking the exam.

The Project Management Institute

Currently, the leading organization dedicated to project management is the Project Management Institute. As a member, PMPs have access to PMI publications, tools, and templates. Additionally, local chapters offer the option to network locally while still offering online access to over one million peers. PMI even offers a job board for those actively seeking work as a PMP.

What Now?

If you are interested in pursuing a Project Management Professional Certification, we can help you achieve this. Reach out to us immediately, and we can provide you additional information about the road to certification. Find out the opportunities that will become available, even if you already have experience in the industry. Contact us to learn how to take your career in project management to the next level.

For more programs check out our online Project Management Certifications page.

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

Woman in graduation cap and gown
Scroll to Top