Is the PMP Certification Really Worth it?

If you’re in the project management field, you have heard of the Project Management Professional certification, or PMP.

What is the PMP all about?

The PMP certification is an internationally recognized ISO 17024 standard. It covers six separate but overlapping key project management processes:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring
  • Controlling
  • Closing

The exam is run through the Project Management Institute (PMI). The exam itself is 200 multiple choice questions with a time limit of four hours. To maintain the certification, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years. Here you will find the full exam outline and more information on what the exams covers.

Prerequisites

To even qualify to take the test, you must meet the prerequisites put forth by the PMI. The prerequisites are:

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent), 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, 35 hours of project management education
  • OR
  • Four-year degree, 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, 35 hours of project management education

So, depending on your highest level of education, the requirements for hours of experience will vary. In either circumstance, you will need 35 hours of project management education. There are quite a few different training options for those 35 hours, from in-class, online, one-on-one, boot camps, etc. However, keep in mind pricing options for these hours, as they can be quite expensive.

Cost

Speaking of cost, what is the total cost of obtaining your PMP Certification? Let’s look at some of the elements that contribute to the overall cost, which vary depending on training and study materials.

  • PMI Year Membership $169 (advantages included discounted test prices, networking, and other events, access to PMI articles, etc.)
  • Exam $405 for members ($555 for non-members)
  • Retest $275 (if needed)
  • PMBOK (official guide) is free for PMI members

The final two elements are those in which costs can vary widely. These are study material costs and the costs associated with the 35 education hours. Study materials, such as additional books and flashcards can range anywhere from $25 to $200 dollars are optional, but can be helpful.

There are many resources for finding both in-person and online training’s; you want to ensure that you get a decent return on this investment. If you choose to pay for the PMI membership, you will have the benefit of being able to enroll in one of your areas chapters for resources. Here you will find a complete list of chapters. Costs for training’s can vary. For example, searching the web for courses near Seattle, we found a four-day exam in-class prep for around $955 through the Knowledge Academy (info here). They also offer online training packages which range from $195 to $495. Other online options include Simplilearn, which offer two different online options from $299 to $999 (info here). At the higher end of the cost scale, there are options such as The Project Management Academy with online and in-class boot camps for $1,895.

Estimated total costs for gaining the certification then, range from $769 to $2,664, with a large variety of price points in between.

What is the value?

With a price point that high, the question of the actual value of the PMP certification arises. There are some clear benefits to obtaining the certification. Per the most recent salary survey done by the Project Management Institute, PMP-Certified project managers earn around 10,000 dollars more on average than colleagues without certifications; highlights from that survey can be found here. Another argument for getting the certification is that it’s often a requirement for PM roles. We asked our Principal Recruiter Sarah Safley her thoughts on the certification. She estimated that 50-60% of PM roles that come through Wimmer Solutions have the certification listed as a requirement. Check out our career page to see any PM roles and their requirements that we may have open.

From a recruiter’s and employer’s perspective, the certification says a lot about a candidate. Many companies and managers who rely on the certification use it as a screening process to identify candidates by levels of experience, as well as knowledge of the official PMBOK methodologies. When asked what value the PMP adds to candidates resumes, Safley said, “it shows the dedication for taking the test as well as the hours required to qualify to take the PMP test.” The PMP certification shows not only technical hard skills and knowledge, but important soft skills such as dedication and commitment.

So, is it really worth it?

There’s no straightforward answer here, unfortunately. It depends on where you are in your career. If you have the experience required to take the exam, but not a lot of additional experience, it could be beneficial if you want to continue to climb the PM career ladder. We asked Jennifer Whitted, Wimmer’s Senior Service Delivery Manager, her opinion of when the certification was worth the cost. She said, “The PMP certification is well worth it for someone who is young in their career, or someone who wishes to work in a PMO structure. I believe the longer someone has been a project manager, the more likely they are not certified. Hence, they depend on their experience much more.” The certification shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for experience, but is does indicate you know how to manage the various areas of project management.

The certification can give you important tools to navigate the project management world, but it will not be able to teach you certain lessons. Evaluate for yourself whether the certification will benefit you and if you have the time and financial resources necessary, or consult a professional recruiter for insight into your personal situation.