Many project managers have been performing their jobs for several years; some with formal training, and some without. In either case, via peers, bosses or through the grapevine, they quickly learn that there are certifications available to them that would be beneficial to attain. Foremost among them is the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. It was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), a non-profit organization whose goal is to advance the profession of project management. To that end, they hold monthly chapter meetings around the world, promote networking and provide standards.
The main standard is a volume called A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), now in its Fifth Edition. The PMBOK Guide - an ANSI standard - "provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts."1 It was first published in 1996 and the PMP exam has been based on it ever since (although the PMP exam actually pre-dates the PMBOK Guide and was initially based on an earlier Special Report). According to PMI, the PMP credential "demonstrates to employers, clients and colleagues that a project manager possesses project management knowledge, experience and skills to bring projects to successful completion."2
So why get PMP certified? There are several good reasons:
- Hiring manager preference
- Higher salary
- Required or beneficial in job listings
- Personal and professional satisfaction
Let's look at each of these in turn. With over 600,000 PMP certified project managers (January 2014 statistic3) the PMP has become one of the most valuable and desired certifications in the world. If you are competing with even a small fraction of that number for a job, you need to level the playing field. If a hiring manager has two choices; Candidate A with 10 years' experience and Candidate B with 10 years' experience and certification, who do you think he or she will choose? Who would you choose? Because at the very least, PMP certification shows a level of commitment to the profession and, as PMI says, "provides and promotes a common vocabulary."4 This is crucial in organizations that run many mission-critical projects with project managers that must communicate on a world-wide basis.
The second reason to get certified is simply because over time it will increase your salary. Proof? PMI periodically performs worldwide salary surveys of project managers. The most recent one was performed in 2013 and surveyed over 36,000 project managers in 33 countries. There is quite a bit of information broken down in a variety of ways (number of years as project manager, by industry, by department, etc). But let's examine here what interests us most: the effect of having a PMP.5
In the U.S, for those that do not have PMP certification, the median salary is $91,500/year. For those that do, the median salary is $110,000/year. So there is an approximate 20% increase in salary just by being certified. The report goes on to say that the longer the credential is held, the higher the salary. And while the annualized salaries in all parts of the world aren't necessarily on a level with the United States, a close reading of the report shows that PMP's around the world earn more than non-PMP's. So there is a strong salary incentive any way you look at it. (If you're thinking about getting a university degree in project management that's not a bad idea. But the median US salary for that is $107,250, still less than a PMP).
The third reason is simply because a cursory search through a job board such as Dice shows that most project manager jobs either "require" or "strongly prefer" a PMP. This requirement may be coming from the hiring manager or it may be coming from HR. Or both. Does it matter? The market has spoken. So as noted above, this certification will at least get you in the door and perhaps move you from the "do not consider" pile to the "consider" pile. Speaking of Dice, a survey6 they recently performed listed PMP as the number one certification. In the six-month span studied, job listings requiring it rose from 1,028 to 1,500, an increase of nearly 50%.
And if you want one more reason to get certified that's not either job or money-driven consider that attaining the PMP will allow you to join the ranks of your peers and add a prestigious designation to your name. Thousands of our students can attest to the gratification they felt on passing the test and becoming part of the PMP community. The jury is in - the Project Management Professional certification opens doors. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and get started down the path to a better career!
1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition, p.1 Project Management Institute ^
2. PMP Handbook, p. 5, Project Management Institute ^
3. PMI Today, January 2014, p. 4, PMI ^
4. PMBOK® Guide, p. 2 ^
5. Project Management Salary Survey, Eighth Edition, PMI ^
6. 10 Certifications That Are Hot in the Job Market, Dice ^