A Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offers experienced Project Managers new opportunities for salary growth and promotion. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the professional organization responsible for testing and awarding PMP certificates, which are globally recognized and often considered the most important certification for Project Managers.
MEM alumni and Director Mark Werwath considers a PMP critical to advancement in Project Management: “a PMP gives a project manager a certification that transcends their company and their industry. In some cases, it is a requirement to have a PMP certification for certain positions. In other cases, a PMP certification is not specifically stated as some companies don’t know what it is or don’t want to practice project management. Many positions and organizations hire only project managers with a PMP. This is especially true for government, aerospace, civil and other types of businesses.” He earned the certification because he “was interested in a credential reflecting what I was building my career on, project management.”
We talked to two NUMEM Alumni who have both completed their PMP certification. Jim Martucci is currently a Program Director for Baxter and a 2005 graduate or the MEM program. He has thirteen US patents in software algorithms, circuits and fluid/weight measurement and seventeen more pending. Paul Martini is currently a Manager of ATO Portfolio and Financial Metrics and Reporting at Allstate. He earned his MEM degree 2004 with concentrations in Systems Engineering and Project Management and he re-certified his PMP in 2009.
Why did you decide to complete the PMP certification?
[PM] I took formal project management courses at Motorola and at Northwestern University. I have always enjoyed it, and applied many of the concepts during my daily work experiences. I wanted to formally take the PMP in order to round out my project management knowledge, as well as add it to my résumé.
[JM] I was working in the Program management Office at that time and the discipline of the process was helpful…it was considered mandatory for PMs to complete the certification.
Did acquiring the certification have a positive effect on your career, directly (promotion or job change) or indirectly (better understanding of Project Management)?
[PM] All of the above. I led the creation of a global PMO at Motorola, and it was instrumental at me landing project and portfolio management positions at Allstate.
[JM] Not directly, but a big boost in understanding how to use a broader range of PM tools.
Would you recommend the certification to others and if so, who and why?
[PM] Absolutely. If someone is interested in pursuing the career path of a project/program/portfolio manager, this certification is a must. I would still strongly recommend the certification for those individuals who would be in an environment where work is structured around projects or releases as having this knowledge helps the overall process.
[JM] Yes, the training on the use of tools and process is good for all engineers to understand.
How did you prepare for the PMP exam? Any tips for Project Managers preparing for the exam today?
[PM] I took the Advanced Masters Certification and Masters Certification through The George Washington University, as well as formal classwork through Northwestern University. What helped the most was taking the PMP Prep course, along with reading the PMBOK, Rita Mulcahy books, and leadership / ethics books.
[JM] I used an off the shelf audio course.
Below we provide a brief overview of the exam and preparation options. You can check out the PMI website for more details.
To earn a a PMP certification you must meet the education and experience requirements and pass an exam. To maintain a PMP certification, you must complete 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) per three-year cycle.
- a four-year degree
- at least three years of project management experience
- 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
- a secondary diploma
- at least five years of project management experience
- 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
- 35 hours of project management education
A 200 question multiple choice test on the following topics: initiating the project, planning the project, executing the project, monitoring and controlling the project, and closing the project
- Read PMI’s PMP Credential Handbook
- Read the PMP Content Outline
- Read and review sample questions
- Utilize self-study materials and formal classes from PMI chapters and Registered Education Providers
- Read recent publications on Project Management