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Project Management Institute's PMP Qualification

~ By Michélle Booysen

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Being the proud owner of my newly acquired PMP (Project Management Professional) title, I mentioned the qualification to an associate the other day and was met with an "oooooh, and…?." sort of look. I realised that until about a year ago, my reaction to the mention of PMP, as a professional title, was probably the same, simply because it had not been prominent in my profession. However, recently, and increasingly so, clients are beginning to require project managers to have formal project management qualifications of the calibre of PMP and PRINCE2. PMP is the certification for proficiency and competence in the discipline of Project Management, issued by the Project Management Institute based in the USA. PRINCE2 is the British counterpart.

During 2007, those holding the PMP credential numbered 250,000 globally.

The process of becoming a PMP involves a number of steps:

Step 1: A candidate needs to decide whether or not to become a member of the PMI. It is not a requirement to be a member of PMI to become a PMP.

Step 2: One must pass eligibility criteria in one of two categories.

Category one requires a university baccalaureate degree or global equivalent university degree as well as 35 contact hours of project management education. A minimum of 4500 hours of project management experience covering the PMBOK's (Project Management Body of Knowledge) five project management process groups during at least 36 non overlapping, unique months of project management in the last 6 years prior to making an application for eligibility is needed.

Category two relates to candidates who hold a high school diploma or equivalent secondary school credential and a minimum of 36 contact hours of project management education. As far as experience goes, a minimum of 7,500 hours of Project Management experience covering the five project management process groups along with at least 60 months of non overlapping, unique months of project management experience with the 8 year period prior to the application.

Step 3: Based on either category one or two eligibility, the candidate applies to write the exam. Once one does the application (online), submitting details and evidence as required, you may be audited and you are so informed immediately. In these instances, one needs to verify the evidence submitted by requesting the relevant people to confer with one's evidence, e.g. project role players who can verify what one wrote in the application portfolio of evidence. Each verifier needs to seal the information in an envelope and this is then couriered to the PMI so that the audit could be conducted.

If one passes the audit, given the criteria, or if no audit was required, the candidate is invited to apply for a date on which to write the exam. This next step can be done online, or if you need special accommodation due to a disability of physical constraint, e.g. if you have diabetes and need to test blood glucose during the exam, you need to apply for special accommodation, a process in which the need for and verification for special accommodation is required.

Once the application is accepted, or the audit has been passed, or the special accommodation has been granted (in my case all three of these applied!) one can schedule a date.

Step 4: At the time of scheduling the exam date, one's studying should be fairly well progressed. How does one prepare for the exam? By studying the PMBOK, books written by authors covering the various project management knowledge areas, doing online quizzes and practice exams, attending preparation courses, and more studying!

Step 5: Finally exam day arrives and one sits the four hour, 200 multiple choice question exam. As you conclude the exam, hopefully full of confidence and within the time limit, you click the "end now" button if your exam is done online, and within 3 minutes you know whether you made it or not. When you exit the exam cubicle, a certificate showing your levels of proficiency for each of the five project management process groups is presented to you.

When you pass, it is a happy moment!! An achievement to be celebrated.

Having passed the PMP exam is the start of a next phase during which one is required to show maintenance of the credential through continued education and professional development. Credential holders need to accrue a minimum of 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) during each three-year credentials cycle. PDU's can be earned through formal academic qualification, professional activities and self directed learning, courses, and volunteer services to professional or community organisations: - all related to project management of course.

Today, a friend asked me how I experienced the process. In one phrase: "worth it!" Never-mind the difficulties and challenges. Why is it "worth it?" Because I learnt so much, and understand so many aspects of project, business and life management better, with a good feel of what to do when.


Michélle is an economist and serves as a Board Member of two companies. She has applied the principles of economics throughout her career, translating intricate and complex economics-speak into everyday language and application. Over the past 20 years she applied and developed her skills in most sectors of the South African economy. She has experience in the US of A economy and is author of the ProcessStep, the Pétanque flagship process methodology which is available globally as licensed IP through the Joint Venture with TenStep, Inc, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has managed a variety of business process architecture projects over the past 10 years.

Reproduced with kind permission of Pétanque petanque-c.com


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Topic: Project Management Institute's PMP Qualification
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17th March 2015 1:11am
Nicole says...
Thanks for the blog info. I have what I think is a simple question, but I can't find the answer to it anywhere. Does the person you list as the "project contact" have to be the person that verifies the experience on that project in the event of an audit?

For example, my manager for some of my projects is not reachable. A colleague who worked on the projects with me has agreed to verify, but I'm not sure if I should list him as the project contact or my actual manager. The application does not have "Colleague" as an option in the "contact relationship" section.

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