Project Management

Project Management Certification Career Path

September 18, 2013

Bita Beigishah

So You Think You’re Ready to Be a Project Manager?

Project Management Certification Career Path

While we can’t blame you for wanting to grasp this position and all the lucrative possibilities it contains, there are some things you should know before embarking down the project management career path. As we just said there are a ton of lucrative benefits that come along with the responsibility of being a project manager, as a result you are not the only person considering this career move. Project management has evolved into one of today’s fastest-growing careers; the Project Management Institute (PMI®) reports 25% of companies that have downsized in the past are still seeking candidates for open project management positions. In fact, an Anderson Economic Group study projects roughly 1.2 million project management positions will need to be filled by 2016.

So before moving forward, understand that while there are open positions in this growing field in order to secure the greatest benefits available you need to step it up against your competition. We have outlined below what you need to do in order to make the 6-figure check of a top-notch project manager.

According to PMI, the average annual salary for PMP Certified Project Managers in the United States is $111,824, almost $14,000 more than those without PMP certification. You’ve probably already guessed it but here it is anyway, get certified. Certification, while it may set you back two thousand dollars or so will pay for itself after the first month in your new position and everything after that is just extra cash in your product.

Which Certifications Should You Earn for Your Role?

There are currently eight levels of certification that PMI recognizes and each of the certifications serves as a symbol of the holder’s commitment to project management and skill proficiency through verification of instruction, experience and competency. We have delved into the requirements for attaining each of these certifications below and, depending on your skill level, you will be able to select the path best suited for your career.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

The first certification is the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®. CAPM is a great entry-level certification for those new to project management and aiming to show their commitment to the field for the first time. This certification will also help newbies improve their management capabilities in order to help them earn that extra bit of responsibility.

To apply for CAPM candidates need a high school diploma AND at least 1,500 hours of project experience OR 23 hours of project management education, such as a training class, prior to sitting for the exam. The CAPM exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and the test-taker is provided three hours to complete the exam.

Prior to registering for the exam, interested professionals will need to register with PMI and pay a membership fee.  This fee includes access to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide); a valuable resource to add to your reference materials as it will aid you throughout the certification process.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® is the most widely accepted credential for project managers. If you are an experienced project manager seeking to maximize your earning potential and add value to your organization then this is the right certification for you.  While this certification will increase your salary overall, it is a very difficult exam to pass. Many actually cite this exam as one of the most difficult they have ever taken with only 62% passing on their first try.

To apply for the PMP certification, candidates need to have either a high school diploma with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education OR a bachelor’s degree with at least three years of project management experience, including 4,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.  The PMP exam is comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions given during a four hour exam slot. Similar to the CAPM certification, candidates need to register with PMI first before applying for the exam.

If you would like to know more about the PMP Certification, read our blog post What is a PMP Certification?

Program Management Professional (PgMP)

PgMP is an advanced certification and is perfect for program managers that oversee the success of a program on an organizational level.  These managers define and supervise projects and assign project managers in order to facilitate results which align with the organizational goals.

To apply for the PgMP exam candidates need at least four years and 6,000 hours of project management experience along with either a high school diploma and at least seven years, 10,500 hours of program management experience OR a four year college degree with at least four year, 6,000 hours of program management experience. In order to attain the certification, candidates need to pass a panel review, the rigorous multiple-choice exam and a Multi-rater Assessment in addition to the educational and experience requirements.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

PfMP is an advanced certification that recognizes the skill of portfolio managers. Professionals with this certification stand out by their demonstrated ability to effectively manage an organization’s portfolio of programs and projects and carry the strategies through to achieve their organization’s measure of success.

To apply for this certification, candidates first and foremost must have at least eight years of professional business experience. In addition, candidates must have a minimum of a high school diploma with 10,500 hours of experience with portfolio management during the last 15 consecutive years OR a Bachelor’s degree and 6,000 hours of portfolio management experience within the past 15 years.

This is a new exam introduced by the PMI this year and further exam details will be made available soon for this certification. The PMI is expecting to make applications available for this certification in the fourth quarter of 2013.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®

This certification is specific to project managers who utilize agile techniques and principles within their organizations. This certification will increase a professional’s versatility to employers and is considered to be significantly more credible than other agile training options and exams.

In order to achieve this certification, candidates must meet a number of requirements. The general project requirements include:

  • Either a current PMP or PgMP certificate OR
  • 2,000 hours within the previous 5 years of experience on project teams

PMI requires candidates to also have an additional 1,500 hours working on agile project teams and 21 hours training in agile practices. Finally applicants must pass the 120 question, multiple-choice exam in order to achieve this certification.

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®

The PMI-RMP certification is a relatively new certification created by PMI to reflect the changing roles of project managers. This credential validates a project manager’s ability to effectively identify and assess the risk level present within a given project. Additionally, project managers with this certification have proven their abilities to also mitigate the threats they face, take advantage of impending opportunities and still demonstrate a baseline of knowledge and application across all areas of project management in general. This certification enhances any project manager’s career and showcases a specialized area of expertise towards current and future employers.

In order to apply for this certification, managers must hold either a high school diploma and 4,500 hours of experience with project risk management and 40 hours of project risk education OR a bachelor’s degree with 3,000 hours of specialized risk management experience and 30 education hours. Once these educational and experience requirements have been met, candidates can take the 170 question multiple-choice exam necessary for certification that is administered by the PMI.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®

This certification is considered a specialized credential focused on the management role of project scheduling. Candidates must demonstrate a baseline of knowledge and skills in the general position of project management in addition to the specialized experience in developing and maintaining effective project schedules.

In order to attain this credential, candidates must meet the PMI’s educational and work experience requirements of at least a high school diploma with 5,000 hours of work and 40 hours of education in project scheduling OR a bachelor’s degree with 3,500 work hours and 30 education hours completed in project scheduling. Once these requirements have been successfully met, interested managers can proceed to take the PMI-SP exam which consists of a 170 multiple-choice question test.

OPM3® Professional Certification

The last certification offered through the PMI is the OPM3 Professional Certification. This certification is a highly regarded credential that establishes a manager’s unparalleled expertise in executing organization project management. This high level certification can be utilized by project managers to establish themselves as OPM3 experts within their organizations or on their own as OPM3 consultants. Either path you choose will present you with unmatched benefits and prestige to your title as a project manager. Additionally, the PMI recognizes the enormity of this accomplishment by opening up a select collection of services available only to their certified OPM3 Professionals for their professional use.

Since this is such an elite credential to hold, the application process is far from easy and follows the process outlined below:

  1. Submit the OPM3 Professional Certification Application
  2. Application Review and Phone Interview to be completed within 10 business days
  3. The PMI Audit Process (only if your application is selected not all candidates will go through this process). This part will take approximately 5-7 days if chosen.
  4. Entrance exam and payment to be taken and received within three months from the application’s approval date.
  5. Register for the training course through SeminarsWorld and pay for the course within one year from passing the entrance exam.
  6. Finally, candidates will take the OPM3 ProductSuite Training Course and take their final certification exam within a four-day period.

Once a candidate becomes an OPM3 Certified Professional, it is expected that the certification be renewed each year to maintain standing.

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