how to become a pmp

If you are searching for how to become a PMP certified professional, you have landed at the right place.

I will explain everything you need to know in this blog post.

This is the most valuable certification for project professionals looking to grow their careers.

Attaining it is a lengthy process, but with the right knowledge becoming a PMP is easy. However, it does involve many steps, and each requires careful planning and the right approach.

The first step is to collect the necessary information about the exam. I recommend you visit the PMI’s website and explore it. Read the PMP handbook and the frequently asked questions. 

Let’s dive in.

How to Become a PMP

The process to become a PMP requires five steps:

  1. Meet Eligibility Requirements
  2. Attend Training
  3. Apply for the PMP Exam
  4. Prepare for the Exam
  5. Attempt the Test

#1: Meet Eligibility Requirements

This is the first step. You must know if you are eligible before you apply. Many professionals have applied for the PMP exam, are selected for an audit, and fail it because they do not have the right experience.

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 are not.

The PMP exam has three eligibility requirements:

  1. The first eligibility requirement is education. You should have a degree or a high school diploma.
  2. The second requirement is at least three years of experience in leading and directing projects if you are a degree holder or five years if you have a diploma. You must have earned this experience within the last eight years.
  3. The third is 35 contact hours of training in formal project management education.

You can proceed to the next step if you satisfy these conditions.

#2: Attend the Training

This is a mandatory step to becoming a PMP. You have to attend project management training for 35 hours. I recommend you read a reference book before taking the training, to get the most out of it.

Start with the Head First PMP book. Read it cover to cover and try to understand the concepts. You can go for a second round with the book if you like. Then read the PMBOK/Agile Guide. It is boring and dry, and that is the main reason why I recommend that you read a reference book beforehand.

If you start with the PMBOK/Agile Guide, you may get bored, your confidence level may go down, and you may lose interest in studying for the PMP exam.

Afterward, you can attend your PMP training.

Others will advise you to get your 35 contact hours before preparing for the exam; I do not suggest this.

During the training, you will hear many new terms that may make you scratch your head if you have not heard them before. Other professionals who know the PMBOK/Agile Guide can participate in arguments, ask difficult questions, and solve mathematical problems. You may end up embarrassed, bored, or confused if you have not read.

I made the same mistake. I joined a classroom training program without studying any reference books or the PMBOK Guide. I suffered a lot. During the training, I could not take part in the discussion, and it was embarrassing.

Nobody advised me; I don’t want you to be in the same situation.

Refer to at least one reference book and the PMBOK Guide to get an idea of what you will be taught before joining a training program.

You have several options to earn your 35 contact hours these days. You can go for either in-class or online programs.

Classroom training programs are costly, have fixed schedules, and are only available in big cities. Online training programs are cheap, flexible, and have no location barrier. Therefore, unless you have a specific reason to join a classroom program, I would recommend you join a good quality one online.

I recommend you take the PM Sprout 35 Contact Hours Training Program. I developed this program with PMSimplify. The course is based on the latest exam content outline from January 1st, 2021, and is at an affordable price. This training program is 100% online, PMI approved and gives you access for one year.

Click here for more details

#3: Apply for the PMP Exam

This is the most crucial step to becoming a PMP. After completing the training, you should schedule the exam. Keeping up the momentum will help you prepare

I have seen many aspirants attend the training and delay the application process for a few days. They end up losing interest. Don’t do that.

Get a PMI membership before applying for the exam. It reduces exam fees. The membership price is less than the discount you get, saving you money. 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.

Now we come to the application process. 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 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 it.

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 form, two things will happen:

  1. You may be selected for an audit
  2. 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 business days. Afterward, you can make the payment and visit the Pearson VUE site.

If you are not selected for an audit, you can make the payment right away and schedule the exam.

You have one year to pass the exam in three attempts. This period starts from the date the PMI approves your application. If you don’t pass the exam in these attempts, you cannot apply again for one year.

#4: Prepare for the Exam

This is where you have to take your PMP exam preparation seriously. Start reading reference books, notes, the PMBOK/Agile Guide, and take practice questions.

You will need to study hard to become a PMP.

I suggest that you buy two good PMP exam reference books. You should select Headfirst, and 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. This will help you answer many questions in the exam.

The next step is to practice the PMP exam sample questions. Although you can find a few questions at the end of each chapter in your reference books, I recommend purchasing a good PMP exam simulator to practice more. Use the PMP Question Bank and the PMP Mock Test to increase your readiness for the exam.

Practice these questions and try the mock tests. By reviewing the answers, you can find where your performance was poor. Revisit these domains and fill your knowledge gaps.

You may see a few mathematical questions on the PMP exam. Although they seem difficult, if you practice and understand the concepts, you will become more comfortable.

If you are having difficulty understanding the math-based questions, you can try the PMP Formula Guide. It explains the mathematical formulas mentioned in the PMBOK Guide with examples and has many practice questions.

A few sites provide free mock tests for the PMP certification exam, such as Oliver Lehmann’s. 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 test available on the internet. It will only demoralize you and waste your precious time.

The PMP Exam Simulator, PMP Question Bank, and PMP Formula Guide will be more than enough.

I noticed many PMP aspirants ignore the PMBOK Guide and rely on manuals from their training and reference books.

Please note that the PMBOK/Agile explains all necessary project management processes and process flows. Therefore, read and understand the guide thoroughly. You will face difficulties on the exam if you skip the PMBOK/Agile Guide.

I recommend that you read it 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 exam. This tool includes many practice questions, study notes, flashcards, true/false statements, and more.

Click here for more details

Please note that if you have subscribed to PM Sprout’s PMP Training Program, do not subscribe to this tool; it is included.

#5: Attempt the Test

This is the final step.

Try to arrive at the Pearson VUE center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time s. 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. You get a brief on the display screen and navigation. The duration 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 180 questions and lasts 230 minutes. That’s 1.2 minutes per question. This is enough time if you are well prepared. Most successful exam takers took two-and-a-half hours on average to complete the test.

The PMP exam has no negative marking; attempt all questions. Even if you don’t know the answers, select your best guess. Never leave a question blank on the exam.

Take your time to complete the exam, review your answers in the remainder, then submit. A short survey follows submission, and then you can see your results. The PMI will congratulate you if you pass the exam, or they will offer their condolences.

If you pass the exam, you will receive the congratulatory mail within one week from the PMI, and your name will show up in the 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


Becoming a PMP involves a considerable amount of time and money. You can say it is a lengthy process; however, it is worth 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. Learn from their experiences, prepare well, and pass the exam.

Here is where this post on how to become a PMP ends. I hope it was useful to you. 

If you have become a PMP recently, please share your experience through the comments section.