PMP - What You Need to Know

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Within the Department of Defense, it is becoming increasingly important for project managers to become Project Management Professional (PMP) certified. The Army Corps of Engineers is requiring their Division Commanders to have a Professional Engineering license or PMP certification. This article will briefly answer the questions: "What is the PMP?", "Why should project managers become PMP certified?", "How to earn PMP credentials?" and "What is required to maintain PMP credentials?"

The Project Management Institute (PMI) awards Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. The PMP credential is an industry-recognized certification for project managers and demonstrates that they have the combination of experience, education, and competence necessary to lead and manage projects. Not every project manager or program manager has an engineering degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering (ABET) accredited program or the need to earn a Professional Engineer (PE) license, but most project managers can pursue their PMP credential.

Project managers interact with contractors, subcontractors, engineers, superintendents, other project managers and project engineers. The PMP credential instantly builds credibility, which makes the project manager's job that much easier. To take the PMP exam, applicants need to meet certain pre-requisites. Applicants with a bachelor's degree need a minimum of 3 years of experience and 4,500 hours of project management experience. Applicants with a high school diploma can still apply for and take the PMP exam, but they are required to have 7,000 hours of project management practice, and five years of experience. All applicants must also have at least 35 hours of formal project management training. For complete details on the prerequisites, applicants should download and review the PMP Handbook at http://www. pmi.org/en/Certification/~/media/PDF/ Certifications/pdc_pmphandbook.ashx

Once you submit your application and pay for the exam, you have 90 days to submit your audit materials, and one year from the date the application is approved to take and pass the exam. You can retake the exam twice for a reduced price during the one year eligibility period. Although you are not required to join the Project Management Institute to take the PMP exam, members receive a $150 discount for the exam and can download the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK). The PMBOK covers the PMI Project Management Process in detail and is an excellent resource.

The PMP Exam is up to four hours long and consists of 200 questions covering Project Initiating (11 percent); Planning (24 percent); Executing (30 percent); Monitoring and Controlling (25 percent); and Closing (8 percent). It will test the your knowledge of the PMI processes; understanding of commonly used terms; the your ability to apply scheduling, costing, and estimating formulas; and your project management professional responsibilities. The good news is that this is what project managers do on a daily basis. You just need to take what you already know and do as a project manager and translate it into the PMI terms and processes.

One reference that is particularly helpful in preparing for the PMP exam is "The PMP Exam, How to Pass on Your First Try", by Andy Crowe. It walks you through the PMI project management process framework and helps you understand how the five process groups relate to the ten knowledge areas and how the 47 processes fit into the processes. This reference also has practice questions in the back and a one-week subscription to "InSite" the Velociteach's comprehensive online prep tool for the PMP exam. This book will build the your confidence in your understanding of the material and allows you to practice taking the PMP exam.

Once you pass the exam, you will need to continue to develop yourself by taking training courses or writing professional articles to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs). Staying current in project management techniques and procedures or giving back to the project management community is part of being a professional.

The PMP certificate is a recognized credential for project management professionals. Project managers and program managers should strive to earn their PMP credentials because it adds to their credibility and opens up career opportunities. You can begin the application process here. Once you have your PMP credential, you can maintain your certificate through continued professional develop and growth.

Stewart Fearon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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