March 3, 2012
After deciding it was time to do project management full-time, it took me about 3 months before I became PMP (Project Management Professional) certified. I will not go into the reasons as to why I wanted to become a PMP (e.g. pros/cons), but rather focus on outlining the entire process so that other potential candidates would know what to expect.
Please keep in mind that my goal was to go the least expensive route.
Duration: less than 1 hour
Cost: USD $129
Link: PMI Membership
PMI (Project Management Institute) is an organization that provides various certifications in the field of project management, most notably the PMP certification. There are a few advantages to becoming a member:
Duration: 40+ hours
Cost: USD $110+
Link: PMstudy 40 PMI contact hours, Guides and Chapter Tests
One of the PMP requirements is to have a minimum of 35 contact hours. I found that enrolling into online courses was definitely cheaper than booking in-class sessions. It also gave me a lot more flexibility in terms of when to study and for how long.
I ended up enrolling in a PMstudy course which I had to complete within 30 days. The coursework was basically split into 11 sections covering all 9 Knowledge Areas along with sections related to the Project Management Framework and Professional Responsibility.
You may find the readings and lectures very dry, but the practice questions break the monotony. Always think about how your own experience relates to the study material.
By spending a few hours every day reading, listening, doing practice questions, and section tests, I was able to complete the coursework within two and a half weeks (while working full time). I wasn’t rushing through it either, as I wanted to get a good grasp of the terminology.
Make sure to keep a copy of completed contact hours certificate(s) as you will need to provide them to PMI in case you get audited.
Duration: 8-12 hours
Link: Margaret Meloni’s application preparation guide
Filling out a PMP application can be a tedious task, but don’t give up! I strongly suggest that you complete the application online, instead of completing a hardcopy.
You will need to list the following in your application:
The project experience section will take the longest time to complete because for each project you need to list:
I worked on a lot of small projects, so I had to list 10 projects in order to meet the project management experience hour requirements. Basically, the smaller the projects you worked on, the more of them you are going to need to list, and the more time you will need to spend completing the application. The same amount of information about each project needs to be listed regardless of how many hours you worked on it.
I found Margaret Meloni’s application preparation guide very helpful for completing the application. You can download it for free.
The section I found took me the longest to complete for every project was the description. I first needed to identify the type of work I did on each project, shortlist relevant project management experience and then translate that into PMP lingo.
In order to help some of you, I have listed the exact descriptions I used for the projects in my application. Please use these only as a guide.
Let me know if you would like me to list a few more.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you will find out within a week, whether you application was accepted. I found out in 2 days and it was the week of Christmas.
Cost: USD $405 (member), USD $555 (non-member)
This is to be completed online and it’s pretty straight forward.
Cost: mailing costs
Duration: 1-2 months
Once your payment has been submitted, you will immediately find out if your application requires an audit. The exact audit selection process is only known to PMI. The chances of being audited are small, but I was one of the (un)lucky ones to be selected. As a result, I can tell you what I needed to do to fulfill the audit requirements.
If you are not getting audited, you can immediately proceed to booking your exam.
In order to comply with the audit you will need to provide proof and references for all parts of your application within 3 months:
You can imagine why it took me almost two months to collect all the audit documents. I worked on 10 projects with 8 completely different clients. As a result, I needed to chase down 8 people which were now living in different cities and get them to follow the described protocol. In some cases I would not recieve any replies, and would then have to find a suitable contact replacement.
Thankfully, PMI provided auto-generated PDF documents for each project listed in my application separately. This allowed me to first email the PDFs to corresponding contacts, and allow them to look it over, print out, and fill out.
Some contacts mailed me back the signed letters and for those I specifically asked to also sign over the flap of the envelope before sending it. This meant that once I received the envelope, I didn’t need to open it as the signed letter was already inside, and the envelope signed over the flap. No need to send an envelope within an envelope!
With other clients I met for coffee where we were able to catch up and get the letters signed.
Once I had all the proofs and letters, I put it them in one large envelope, and sent them to PMI via registered mail.
Within a week, I received an email notifying me that my audit documents were received and under review. The next day I got the green light to proceed to book my exam.
Cost: included in the cost of the application
Duration: < 1 hour
Exams can only be taken at Prometric centers. From what I noticed, exam slots are usually available during the workweek, so you only need to book a few days in advance if you wish. However, if you want to do the exam on a weekend, you need to book the exam a month in advance or more. It varies from one testing center to the next.
Duration: 30+ hours
Everyone prepares differently for exams. About 2 months passed since I did the online PMP course, so I decided to read through the entire PMBOK again, and this time, take notes of certain formulas and definitions as I was going through it.
I found lots of free online practice exams. You can purchase online practice exams, but there seem to be enough free ones out there.
Here is the list of the practice exams I took and found very relevant:
I would strongly suggest that you actually set aside the 4 hours for each 200 question practice exam, and do them as if it was a real exam. Any answer you are uncertain about, make note to review it later. Once you finish an exam, go through all the questions you got wrong, as well as the ones you marked for review, and spend the time to understand the reasoning behind the right answer. I think that is the key to doing well on the exam.
Duration: 4 hours
After going through a few practice exams, you should be ready for the real thing. Just pace yourself and you will be fine. I took the full 4 hours to do the exam and had just enough time to review a few questions I was uncertain about. I didn’t feel rushed, but just keep in mind how many questions you’ve answered vs the time remaining and try to keep ahead.
My final results looked like so:
Eximination Result: PASS
|Domain Name||Your Results|
|Monitoring and Controlling||Proficient|
I hope this overview of the PMP certification process will prove useful in your endeavours. Your feedback is welcome.