The PMP certification is the most valued for project professionals, and having this certification will help you grow your career.
Attaining the PMP certification is a lengthy process, but if you understand it, becoming a PMP is easy. This process involves many steps, and each step requires careful planning and the right approach.
You must collect the necessary information about the PMP exam. Visit the PMI website and explore it. Read the PMP handbook and the frequently asked questions. This will help you get the answers to most of your queries.
How to Become a PMP
The process to become a PMP requires five steps:
- Meet Eligibility Requirements
- Attend Training
- Apply for the PMP Exam
- Exam Preparation
- Attempt the Test
#1: Eligibility Requirements
This is the first step. You should know if you are eligible to apply for the PMP exam. Many professionals apply for the PMP exam, are selected for audit, and then fail it because they do not have experience working with projects.
I’ve received emails from professionals working in operations that are interested in the PMP exam. They think they are working in project management, but they do not understand the eligibility requirements
The PMP exam has three eligibility requirements:
- The first eligibility requirement is education. You should have a degree or a high school diploma, in any discipline.
- The second eligibility requirement is at least three years of experience in leading and directing projects if you are a degree holder, and five years if you are a diploma holder. You must have earned this experience within the last eight years.
- The third requirement is 35 contact hours training for formal project management education.
You can proceed to the next step if you satisfy these conditions.
#2: Attend the Training
You have to attend project management training for 35 hours. I recommend you read a reference book before taking the training, as it will help you get the most out of it.
Start with the Head First PMP book. Read it from cover to cover and try to understand the concepts. You can go for the second round if required. Then read the PMBOK Guide. This is boring and dry, and that is the main reason why I recommend that you read a reference book before reading the PMBOK Guide.
If you start with the PMBOK Guide you will feel bored, your confidence level may go down and you may lose your interest in studying for the PMP exam.
Never start your exam preparation with the PMBOK Guide.
Afterward, you can attend your PMP training.
Many will advise you to get your 35 contact hours before you start preparing for the exam; I do not suggest you do this.
During the training, you will hear many new terms that may make you scratch your head if you have not read the PMBOK Guide. Other professionals that know the PMBOK Guide participate in arguments, ask difficult questions and solve mathematical problems. You may end up embarrassed, bored, or confused.
I made the same mistake. The moment I realized this requirement, I joined a classroom training program without referring to any reference books or the PMBOK Guide. I suffered a lot. During the training, I could not take part in the discussion. It was an embarrassing situation for me.
Nobody advised me, and I don’t want you to be in the same situation.
Therefore, refer to at least one reference book and the PMBOK Guide to get an idea about what you will be taught before you join the training program.
You have many options to earn these 35 contact hours these days. You can go for either classroom training or online training programs.
Classroom training programs are costly, have fixed schedules, and are only available in big cities. On the other hand, online training programs are cheap, flexible, and are available in all locations. Therefore, unless you have a specific reason to join a classroom training program, I would recommend you join a good quality, PMI approved online 35 contact hours training program.
I recommend you take the PM Sprout 35 Contact Hours Training Program. I developed this training program with PMSimplify. The course is based on the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide and available at an affordable price. This training program is 100% online, PMI approved, and access is for one year.
#3: Apply for the PMP Exam
After completing the training, you should schedule the exam. You are motivated and this will help you in your exam preparation.
I have seen many aspirants attend the training and delay the application process for a few days, and then they end up losing interest. Don’t do that.
Get a PMI membership before applying for the exam. It will reduce exam fees. The price of the membership is less than the discount that you will get when applying for the PMP exam. You can also download a digital copy of the PMBOK Guide for free; it is a win-win situation for you.
The PMI membership offers many benefits once you join. I recommend you get this membership before applying for the exam.
Now we come to the PMP exam application process. You will never start studying seriously unless you schedule the exam. Once you schedule the exam, your hidden potential will be unlocked, and you will study more aggressively and passionately. I suggest you give yourself at least three months for exam preparation.
You can apply for the PMP exam online or offline. Both formats require the same information, but the online method is quick and effortless. I recommend you choose the online PMP exam application.
Once you start the online application, you have 90 days to complete it. Read: How to Fill Out the PMP Exam Application Form
As soon as you submit the result two things will happen:
- You may be selected for an audit
- You will be asked for payment
Don’t worry if you are selected for an audit. The PMI will ask you for some documents, for example, a copy of your educational certificates, experience certificate, and training. Once you send these, they will complete the audit within five working days. Afterward, you can make the payment and go to the Pearson VUE site to schedule the exam.
If you are not selected for an audit, you can make the payment right away and go to the Pearson VUE site to schedule the exam.
You have one year to pass the exam with three attempts. This one year starts from the date when PMI approves your application. If you don’t pass the exam in these attempts, you cannot apply again for one year.
#4: Exam Preparation
This is where you have to begin your exam preparation seriously. Start reading reference books, notes, the PMBOK Guide, and practice questions.
I suggest that you buy any two good PMP exam reference books. You should select the Headfirst and any other book. The other book can be Kim Heldman or Rita Mulcahy. Read both books at least twice.
Refer to page 25 of the PMBOK Guide 6th edition to understand the project management process groups and knowledge areas mapping. An understanding of this map will help you answer many questions in the exam.
The next step is to practice PMP exam sample questions. Although you can find a few sample questions at the end of each chapter in your reference books, I recommend you purchase a good PMP exam simulator to practice more questions. Use the PMP Question Bank and the PMP Mock Test to test your readiness for the exam.
Practice these questions and try mock tests. By reviewing the answers, you can find the domains where your performance was poor. Revisit them and fill in your knowledge gaps.
You will see many mathematical questions on the PMP exam. Although they seem to be tough initially, if you practice those questions and understand the concepts, you will become more comfortable.
If you are having difficulty understanding math-based questions on the PMP exam, you can try the PMP Formula Guide. This explains the mathematical formulas mentioned in the PMBOK Guide with examples and has many practice questions.
A few sites on the internet provide free mock tests for the PMP certification exam, such as Oliver Lehmann. He provides two sets of questions, and you should try both.
I have seen many aspirants desperately looking for free practice questions and mock tests. Don’t do this. You should not try to attempt every sample question or free mock test available on the internet. It will only demoralize you and waste your precious time.
If you purchase the PMP Exam Simulator, PMP Question Bank, and PMP Formula Guide mentioned in this blog post, they will be more than enough for you to pass the exam.
I noticed many PMP aspirants ignore the PMBOK Guide and rely on manuals from their training provider and reference books.
Please note that the PMP certification exam is based on the PMBOK Guide. Therefore, read and understand the guide thoroughly. You will face difficulties on the exam if you skip the PMBOK Guide.
I recommend that you read the PMBOK Guide at least three times before attempting the exam. Although it is a dry book, you will like it once you understand the concepts.
I recommend you subscribe to PM Sprout’s PMP Exam Preparation Tool. This is the only tool developed to help PMP aspirants prepare for the PMP exam. This tool includes many practice questions, study notes, flashcards, true/false statements, etc.
Please note that if you have subscribed to PM Sprout’s PMP Training Program, do not subscribe to this tool, it’s included.
#5: Attempt the Test
Try to arrive at the Pearson VUE center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time for the formalities. It takes around ten minutes to complete the exam procedures. Afterward, you can enter the test room and start the test.
The test starts with an awareness session. This will give you a brief on the display screen and navigation. The duration of this session is 15 minutes but you can complete the session early and start the test.
If you complete the session early, start the test. You cannot use the saved time to make any brain dumps.
The PMP exam comprises 200 questions, and duration is four hours; i.e. 1.2 minutes per question. This is enough time if you are well prepared. Most successful exam takers who passed the exam with the above target on all domains took two-and-a-half hours on average to complete the test.
The PMP exam has no negative marking. Therefore, attempt all questions. Even if you don’t know the answers, select the best guess. Never leave a question blank on the exam.
Take your time to complete the exam and review your answers in the remaining time, then submit. A short survey follows submission and then you can see your results. The PMI will congratulate you if you pass the exam; otherwise, they will offer their condolences.
If you pass the exam, you will receive the congratulatory mail within one week from PMI and your name will show up in the PMI certification registry. You will receive your certificate within eight weeks.
Good luck with your PMP exam preparation.
Before I conclude this blog post, let me give you the resources discussed in this blog post for a quick reference:
- Head First PMP
- Rita Mulcahy
- Kim Heldman
- PM Sprout Training Program
- PM Exam Simulator
- PMP Exam Preparation Tool
- PMP Formula Guide
- PMP Question Bank
- PMP Mock Test
The process to become a PMP involves a considerable amount of time and money. You can say it is a slightly lengthy process; however, it is worth going for it. With the right preparation and resources, you can pass the PMP exam on your first attempt. You can join your local PMI chapter and speak with successful exam takers to learn from their experiences. You will find many PMP certification holders in your local chapter meetings. Learn from their experiences, prepare well, and pass the exam.
Are you preparing for the PMP exam? What problems are you facing? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.