PMP certification can kick-start your business management ambitions.Regardless of whether you are a first-time project manager or a seasoned champion, there are two questions you should ask at some point in your career:

  • Is it worthwhile to become a Project Management Professional (PMP)?
  • What are the benefits of PMP certification to you and your organization?

After all, it’s not easy to clear the PMP certification examination — preparation is costly and time consuming.

So, let’s find out. Is it worth swimming through high tides to attain PMP certification?

Let’s start with understanding a bit about the PMP certification and the organization that offers it. The Project Management Institute (PMI) — the world’s leading association for individuals and enterprises working in the field of project management — was launched in 1969. PMI supports project management careers by developing globally-recognized standards, resources for research and various publications.

Their most famous publication is A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), first published in 1996. PMBOK prescribes effective project management processes that measure progress and risks and ensure that the right projects can be delivered in alignment with organizational priorities.

PMBOK is a very practical publication, based on proven processes drawn from the experience of scholars and professionals working as project managers across a multitude of different industries and sectors around the world. It provides an end-to-end reference for project management knowledge areas.

PMI also offers an industry-leading, examination-based professional certification program that recognizes the training and skillsets of individual project management professionals. The Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is considered the gold standard of project management certifications. It is in high-demand by public and private entities around the worldwide.

Managing projects the PMP way is the need of the hour

Businesses today operate in a complex, fast-moving and resource-constrained environment. They leverage projects as a method to achieve critical business objectives. The nature of these projects can range anywhere from new product development, merger integration, outsourcing, regulatory policy implementation, and to achieving operational efficiency.

Given the strategic impact that projects have on a business, managers must think beyond the traditional approach of building a schedule and adhering to it. To achieve project objectives, today’s managers must take into account and control a plethora of fluid variables such as cost, time, scope, resources, stakeholder expectations, suppliers, vendors, risks, and a host of others.

The PMP prescribes an approach to project management which acknowledges these variables, and advocates the science of managing them in unification. Clearing the PMP exam validates your ability to use this science and manage projects and teams successfully.

Value of PMP certification

Certification alone doesn’t mean that you are the “best” project manager. Rather, it indicates that you understand and are skilled in applying best practices and standards to bring a project to successful completion.

PMP offers you an ability to scientifically manage project variables, in a disciplined and structure manner. It defines the role of a project manager and what he/she should know in order to be effective.

Since PMP certification authenticates your adeptness at applying an industry-accepted body of knowledge, it is a valuable way to gain access to job openings and career opportunities. You also are not limited to any one industry or project type. PMP tools and concepts are generic and applicable for use on any project, in any industry, and in any geographic location.

There is also the added benefit of earning a higher salary. According to PMI’s 2015 salary survey, PMP-certified individuals earn “20 percent more than non-certified peers.” Annual salary ranges for PMPs in India are:

  • Project Manager, IT: Rs 793,585 to Rs 2,119,428
  • Senior Project Manager, IT: Rs 1,172,525 to Rs 2,559,417
  • Project Manager, Software Development: Rs 821,760 to Rs 2,309,586
  • Project Manager, Engineering: Rs 491,610 to Rs 2,739,591
  • Operations Manager: Rs 308,613 to Rs 1,618,782

PMP certification sets you apart while looking for a job and helps you move upward once you have a job. It is quite common for Indian enterprises to give PMPs preference in hiring and promotions. Even better news is that India, along with China, is predicted to be the world leader in job creation for PMP-certified individuals.

Associating with PMI via PMP certification also provides a platform for continuous learning through Professional Development Units (PDU). This helps PMPs keep pace in a world where the certified individual is responsible to stay up-to-date in his or her field.

As an added advantage, PMP certification enables you to plug into a world-wide network of PMI certified professionals that you can learn from and collaborate with.

PMP also offers a competitive advantage to employers, who like to have PMPs on staff. Many clients see the presence of PMPs as a sign of institutional competence and dependability. And there is evidence to back up that perception.

The Pulse of the Profession 2015, another PMI Industry assessment found that when more than one-third of an organization’s project managers are PMP-certified, that organization will complete more projects on time, within budget and thoroughly meeting original customer goals.

Practicing as a PMP

I’ve been PMP-certified since 2012, and I believe a certification is worth having. PMP gives me extra credibility when dealing within my enterprise and with my clients. The training has helped me manage my projects effectively and efficiently, especially those that are highly complex and integrated with multiple stakeholders. Although most management positions don’t require a PMP, having it will definitely have a positive impact on your next job application.

PMP certification has also given me an excellent learning platform in which to enhance my skills via involvement with PMI-sponsored learning activities and events. Participating in these events and programs enables me to stay abreast of new developments and opportunities in the field.

Getting started in PMP certification

Make no mistake, earning a PMP certification isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. It is a whole lot more than just studying and sitting for the exam.

To begin with, meeting the eligibility requirements to take the PMP(R) Certification examination is a big hurdle by itself. There are three requirements, and they are significant. Candidates for the exam must have a four-year bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, and have gained at least 4,500 hours of real-world project management experience in a period of not less than three years. Once you’ve met those two requirements, you can then register to undergo 35 hours of project management training.

PMP certification can kick-start your business management ambitions.Once all of these requirements are met you can register for the exam by completing an online application and paying the registration fee. You will then receive the study materials, and a letter authorizing you to appear at a local exam site.

The PMP exam is computer-based and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions to be completed in a four hour time limit. It is best to answer all questions since the scoring procedures record an incorrect response for any unanswered questions.

Candidates are expected to be familiar with knowledge and skills for five domains that are covered on the exam: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. Each domain covers a percentage of the items on the exam. Since certain domains contain more questions than others, make certain to preview the domain percentages before beginning your preparation. For more details on the exam please refer to PMI’s home page.

Certification isn’t the end, either. Once you are PMP-certified, you must then earn 60 professional development units every three years.

The PMP is difficult to earn, but it’s great to have.  It will open doors and provide you with a solid base of in-demand skills and knowledge.