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So you want to be a PMP? Part 1 Print
So you want to be a Project Management Professional? You want to join those of us with the initials after our name, but do not know what is involved?

Part 1 - Applying

So you want to be a Project Management Professional? You want to join those of us with the initials after our name, but do not know what is involved?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) markets the PMP as "the project management profession's most globally recognized and respected certification credential".
Gaining PMP certification will give you initials after your name. They tell employers, clients and peers alike that you have achieved a certain level of expertise, and are dedicated to continuing your education in project management.

There are currently over 27,000 PMPs in 26 countries around the world. Between October 1999 and October 2000, the number of PMPs increased by 9,611 or 64% (source: PMI Today, January 2001).
It is clear that the PMP is not a passing fad, and that it will continue to grow in importance.

When I came to apply and study, I found many sites and material paraphrasing PMI's information. Rather than do this (which I found rather pointless), I thought I would tell you what I discovered as part of the application, studying, and sitting process.

This month, we will investigate in some detail the process of applying to sit the exam. In future months, we will look at the study process, resources available and the exam itself.

Application details are available at PMI's web site, http://www.pmi.org/certification/.
You should download the certification handbook. It tells you all you need to know about applying.

Before applying you should approach this just like any project. Make sure you know what you are setting out to achieve (PMP certification), and that you can actually achieve it. Do not just start buying materials, applying to take the exam etc., without knowing what you are letting yourself in for, and being sure that you can get the appropriate resources (time, money, energy, knowledge) to allow you to succeed. After all, if you are serious about project management, you will not want a failed project :).

One very sensible place to start for resources is your employer. Mine had resources available that I could borrow and even gave me study leave.

To apply, you will need to provide a CV with forms verifying your experience. If, like me, you have a CV that records your project management experience in some detail, then you have a good starting point. I was also fortunate enough to have my 'best' project management experience most recently, which meant I did not have to remember too far back for any details.

Putting the application together is not a time to be creative.
The PMI provide you with a CV that they you might follow, although they say that your standard business resume is acceptable.
A PMP who I talked to at the time I was applying said that PMI get many applications a month (there were over 550 new PMP's certified in January 2001 alone), which means an equivalent number of applications. Follow their CV format, and make their life (and hence yours) as easy as possible. I still think this is good advice.

Do not underestimate how long it will take to pull all this information together. I had to produce a detailed CV (24 pages long), as well as 18 experience validation forms.
The other piece of advice that PMP gave me was to pull together more than the minimum number of hours you need to prove, in case there are any issues. The last thing you want is a disruption to your study plan because you have to resubmit the paperwork again. Then, if you have any hours that you are not claiming for, then just submit your standard CV - i.e. do not bother putting a detailed CV forward for hours you are not claiming.

One decision you have to make, is whether to join PMI or not. PMI members get a discount of US$150.00, yet membership costs US$119.00 plus your chapter fees.

I joined for the first year - it gave me access to a local study group. To find out if your local chapter provides study groups you can find contact details here http://www.pmi.org/chapterinfo/acp_us.htm (for the US) or here http://www.pmi.org/chapterinfo/acp_intl.htm (outside the US). You can also find your local chapter costs here, and factor that into your decision about joining.

You should also note that if you fail the exam the first time, PMI members save US$100.00 on reapplying. I was not planning to fail, so it was not a deciding factor for me :).

PMI say that they will respond within 10-14 working days of receipt of application, with an eligibility letter to qualifying candidates. I sent my form off in very late December, and received my letter back by the middle of January.
Given I live in New Zealand, I was pleasantly surprised by the response.

The PMI's documentation informs you that your eligibility letter will be valid for three months. However, I was told that New Zealand based candidates are given longer. That was true in my case - my eligibility lasted over 11 months, but I suggest you check with your local chapter as to local experiences. (Another good reason to join!).

The timing of your application is therefore critical. Given it will take time to pull the application together, you need to do this early in your study period. When you have assessed your level of knowledge and developed a study plan (see next month's article), then you need to apply in sufficient time.

You will find that completing the detailed CV means you have to align what you did on a real project with the various sections of the PMBOK. This process will stand you in good stead for the exam.
The PMBOK is foundational knowledge for PMP studying, so you are best to do this early in your study period. This just reinforces the need to apply early in the process.

If you apply in plenty of time, and then book yourself an exam date, you will find your study plan will have a deadline imposed on it - and as a project manager you should be comfortable working towards deadlines.

Next month, I will tell you about one more thing you have to consider when applying, and start looking at how you can study for the exam. In later articles, I will also give you some views on the materials that are available, what I used, and some tips for the exam itself.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please e-mail me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and I will respond to the best questions in a later article.

Please note: Information in this document is correct as of February 2001. Please check the PMI web site, for latest charges, times, etc.

2001 © Brian Simpson


Brian passed his PMP in February 2001. He is married to Tina and the father of Daniel. Brian has been managing IT projects for over 11 years both in the UK and New Zealand. He is in the process of returning with his family to the UK. Brian can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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