How do I get Project Management Professional Certification?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 December 2018
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Project management professional certification is usually completed by trained professionals who want to move into this field or advance their career. The vast majority of project management candidates have an undergraduate degree in a professional field, such as accounting, engineering or information technology. The process to get a project management professional certification includes three requirements: academic credentials, work experience, and completion of a certification exam. The courses for this certificate are available from a range of universities, community colleges and online schools. The examination is organized by the Project Management Institute®, that ultimately determines if all the requirements are met, and provides the certificate.

There are three different types of schools that offer project management professional certification programs. The program available through a university is typically organized under the school of continuing or part-time studies. These courses are available in the evenings and are open to a broad range of students.

Community college training programs are often full-time programs with fixed start dates. Online programs are available with continuous intake and provide a great option for people who are working full time. Check the accreditation status of the online school with the Project Management Institute® to make sure the courses will be acceptable.


Talk to the Project Management Institute®, about its academic requirements and it will be able to advise you if any additional courses are required. This is often the case for degrees or training programs completed more than 10 years ago. Although the concepts have not changed, the technology has become much more integrated, and clients expect all project managers to have current computer skills.

Work experience requirements vary based on the length of academic program completed and the area of expertise. Keep in mind that all experience must be independently verifiable, and that you must have played a primary project management role. Acting as part of a team or as support staff is not acceptable experience for a project management professional certification.

The certification exam is a minimum of three hours in length and is usually multiple choice. This exam format is deceptively simple. However, candidates are advised to prepare in advance for this exam, as the questions are extremely detailed. A common method used in this type of exam is to provide four possible answers, of which three are almost right, and one which is perfect.

Project management professional (PMP®) certification will help you secure employment as a project manager. Talk to your employer about the types of positions you will qualify for upon successful completion. Keep in mind that all project management professional certification programs include a continuing education commitment. A specific number of course hours must be completed each year to maintain your certificate.



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