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The Value of PMP® Certification to Project Managers and Organizations



Given that companies and organizations (I’ll use the word “organizations” from this point forward) will likely provide the funding necessary for an individual to earn the PMP credential, they need to see the business case behind doing so. Let’s look at the justification for that investment.

Here are four reasons why many organizations have made the investment in PMP certification, in no particular order:

  1. Many organizations find that their clients require certified project managers on their projects. In order to win a contract, a PMP-certified project manager must be named in the proposal.
  2.  Organizations believe that having better-qualified project managers, including those who hold PMP certification, increases the chances of project success. Some even have the data to prove it.[iii]
  3. In the war for talent, organizations that invest in the professional growth and development of their project managers will be more desirable places to work than those that don’t. Accordingly, enlightened organizations provide career opportunities for their project managers by offering them a range of professional development options, such as earning the PMP credential.
  1. The PMP is often part of a broader effort by the organization to improve its overall practice of project management, instilling discipline, and rigor in its approach. In short, having PMP-certified project managers can act as a catalyst to overall process improvement.


How will PMP certification benefit you? Let me count the ways! You know my story, but here are six reasons why many people earn the PMP credential:

  1. You can earn more money (for the rest of your career). PMI reported in its 10th Annual Salary Survey that PMP credential holders earn 23% more than those who don’t hold the certificate. (Should I stop here? Okay, there are other reasons as well.)
  2. The PMP is renowned throughout the world. There is no credential more widely known and respected than the PMP. It is the world’s most ubiquitous and desirable project management certification. Around for about thirty years, it was the first certification designed specifically for project managers by project managers.[iv]
  3. Your career progression will be enhanced. Many organizations now require their project managers to earn the PMP to advance through their career ladder. Additionally, many organizations only hire project managers that hold the PMP, meaning, you won’t even be invited to an interview if you don’t have the credential.
  4. You will continually develop your skills. Holding the PMP encourages you to continually develop your skills and stay current because it requires 60 hours of continuing education, or 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs), every three years to maintain it.
  5. The PMP is universally applicable. Since it is not based on one specific methodology, it can be easily transferred between industries, market segments, and locations. It’s truly a global certification.
  6. The PMP demonstrates a commitment to excellence. The PMP demonstrates to your current (and future) employer that you are committed to excellence and professional development by earning and maintaining the credential.

Lists are interesting. They’re short and easy to read. But where’s the human element? Well, I have one for you. I wanted to know why real people earned the credential, so I asked them. A while ago, I posted the following question on one of the many LinkedIn groups I belong to.


  • “Was culmination of proof to myself that I have the knowledge to do the work” “Don’t forget the ongoing education (requirement). There’s a degree of commitment to the PMP that adds to its validity.”
  • “It changed my perspective of handling projects. It gives a structured way to approach pretty much everything we do.”
  • “To stay competitive in the job market. Period.”
  • “…the certification…will…get rid of various addictions, to recycle and learn the practices another way.”
  • “Not all carpenters are alike. The certification gives those hiring you a comfort level that you’re serious about your profession.”
  • “...when I prepared for the certification, I learned about some topics …I didn’t know about. Gave me self-confidence ...despite certifications being considered ‘a paper’ for some clients.”
  • “The greatest value for me was learning a more systematic approach than the way the Army was doing things.”
  • “Wanted to shape a project culture in the company and talking all with the same language.”
  • “The PMP gave me a guide to follow.”
  • “...most of all it gave me the confidence to look for a new job And of course, it helped me get that next job….and the next.”
  • “The association with PMI chapters brings greater value for your career.”

Based on all the responses I received I can say with confidence that there are two primary reasons real people earn the PMP:

  • They see it as a challenge to meet the highest levels of professional standards
  •  > They want greater access to jobs and higher salaries

Do you relate to these two reasons? If so, keep reading.


Let’s assume I’ve convinced you to “go for it.” The question is, what’s the best way to start?  I’ll just bullet it out for you. No need to write a novel.

  1. Go to PMI.org and open a PMP application. It’s online and easy to use. You have 90 days to complete it, and you can go “in and out of it” as many times as you like. Download the PMP® Certification Handbook and PMP® Examination Content Outline. They contain a lot of helpful information about the exam, the eligibility requirements, and the tasks and domains that are relevant to today’s practicing project managers. When you’re done, submit the application. 
  2. Receive your approval email from PMI notifying you that you’re eligible to sit for the exam.
  3. Reserve your date and time at a Prometric Test Center (information will be provided to you by PMI).
  4. Take a PMP Preparation course (rather than doing it the Abe Lincoln way, alone, at night, by the fireplace). There are many options today: face-to-face, online, or on-demand. Just make sure the organization has plenty of experience helping folks prepare and that the instructor is PMP certified and has been training in the area for many years. Why a course? Immersion is the best approach. You’ll learn more in 3 or 5 days (or associated number of hours) than doing it incrementally over a longer period. Keep in mind that you will still need to study a bit more even after the course finishes. There’s quite a volume of information to read and remember. You don’t want to shortchange yourself.
  5. Study the right materials. PMP Prep is a cottage industry. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of providers around the world and some are much better than others. Your course provider should provide you with a full set of professional materials aimed at helping you pass the test, not just teaching you project management. Of course, you will absolutely need a hard copy of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) from While the questions can come from many sources, many are derived from the PMBOK® Guide. If you are a PMI member, you can download a copy, but you can’t print it. Having a hard copy allows you to underline, take notes in the margin and carry it with you to read at your leisure (ha!). 
  6. Study with some friends or colleagues. You’ll be surprised at how much they know. Even if you can get together with a few folks occasionally, you’ll find it very helpful. The most effective way to do a group study is for each person to take a practice test. Then, when you meet, go ‘Round Robin’ for each question with each person explaining the answer they chose and WHY. That’s key. In everyone’s explanation, they will be teaching the others some elements of project management they might not have been exposed to before. 
  7. Finally, do something every day. This is not an exam you can cram for. Even if you simply review some EVM definitions, that’s better than doing nothing.

There, you’re ready to go.


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