How to prepare for the PMP exam - Part 1: Assess your eligibility

Not everyone is eligible to take the Project Management Institute's exam toward PMP certification. Here's a breakdown of the requirements. (This is the first of a weekly, eight-part series of articles on preparing for the PMP exam.)

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Not everyone is eligible to take the Project Management Institute's exam toward PMP certification. Here's a breakdown of the requirements. (PMP expert Cornelius Fichtner has prepared a series of how-to articles designed to help interested parties prepare for the PMP exam. This article is the first in the series.)

Project management remains one of the hottest career options for IT professionals. CIOs report quarter after quarter that project management skills are among the most sought after IT skills for their organisations.

IT workers are responding to this demand by increasingly seeking out project management certification. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the number of IT professionals who hold the PMP credential has doubled over the past five years. The Project Management Institute offers the most popular project management certification in the US—the Project Management Professional or PMP credential. It signifies that an individual is proficient in PMI's project management framework, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). It also indicates that the individual possesses significant project management skills and experience.

According to the PMP Credentials Handbook, the PMP exam "objectively assesses and measures experience, education and professional knowledge—the foundation of competent practice as a project manager."

PMP certification can give IT project managers an edge in the job market, as more employers note in ads for project manager jobs that project management certification is highly desirable, if not required. IT project managers who are certified tend to earn higher salaries than project managers who lack credentials, according to a salary survey conducted by the Project Management Institute.

But not everyone is eligible to take the PMP certification exam. Interested parties must meet certain requirements established by the Project Management Institute. Here's the low-down on those requirements.

Determining Your Eligibility to Take the PMP Exam

The Project Management Institute requires that people who wish to take the PMP exam possess project management-related experience and have received formal project management training or instruction. The organization outlines its criteria for taking the PMP exam in the PMP Credential Handbook. This free publication is downloadable from the Project Management Institute's website. In it, you'll find a description of the PMP certification, an explanation of who is eligible to apply, and how to go about applying. Read the first 20 pages and you will know all there is to know about the exam from an administrative point of view.

Here are the basic requirements for taking the exam:

  • A four-year degree (bachelor's or the global equivalent) and at least three years of project management experience. Of those three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours should have been spent leading and directing projects. 35 hours of project management education are also required.

  • In the absence of a four-year degree, a secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent) is required, along with at least five years of project management experience. Of those five years of project management experience, 7,500 hours should have been spent leading and directing projects. 35 hours of project management education are also required.

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