Read it again, there’s no “I” in there. Okay, are we all on the same page now?

The Project Management Professional certification by PMI (Project Management Institute) is prestigious because you not only have to pass a 200 question exam, but also earn a minimum of 4,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education. This is the minimum requirement if you have a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t have a 4-year degree, the requirements are even higher (7,500 project management hours).

There are numerous reasons to get the certification — whether you’re trying to land a new job, gunning for a promotion or looking to increase customer confidence in your project management abilities. The PMP can be a stepping stone to any one of these goals. If you’re considering getting certified, NOW is the time. Why? The exam is changing in November 2015, with more information to memorize, including an additional eight new processes. Find additional information here: http://www.pmi.org/certification/exam-changes/pmp.aspx.

There are a few pitfalls to avoid when taking on this endeavor, and the first is not giving yourself enough time to apply, study, and sit for the test. Applying to be eligible to sit for the exam can be incredibly time consuming; you’ll need to document each of your 4,500 hours for every project you’re counting towards that requirement.

  • First, you’ll need to break the hours down by the 5 basic project management phases – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing.
  • In addition, you’ll need to give contact information for your project contacts and write a brief summary describing the project.
  • Next, you’ll need to list where you got your education hours and make sure they’re PMI approved.
  • Finally you’ll need to record your information related to either your high school or college degree.

Once you submit, you’ll wait about 5 business days to find out if your application has been accepted. Don’t get too excited yet though! Once you pay the testing fee you’ll find out if you’re selected for an audit!

Note About the Testing Fee: Sign up to be a PMI member ($139) because the reduced rate ($405 instead of $555) you receive on the test covers your membership fee! It’s actually $11 cheaper and you get a ton of benefits, including study aids!

If you’re one of the unlucky few that get chosen for an audit (I was), don’t panic! First, it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong, it just means that PMI wants to ensure the validity of the information you provided. Your 1-year time frame for taking the test doesn’t start until your audit is complete. You have 90 days total to complete the audit. You’ll need to send a copy of your degree and also have your contacts sign off on your project hours and your education hours (unless your have a certificate from your training you can provide). PMI will give you a form with information from your application that you’ll need your designated contact to initial as accurate. Your contact will then send the signed form to you in a sealed envelope with their signature over the seal. You then send the unopened envelopes, along with proof of your degree to PMI.

I highly suggest paying to track your audit package – I didn’t and I was a wreck waiting to hear if PMI had received it! But eventually they let me know that they received it and I was all set to actually schedule my test! Overall from submission to completing the audit it took 3 weeks, and believe me, I wasted no time sending out those e-mails to my contacts. I also called them and walked them through the process to make sure they understood what to do. So make sure to choose contacts you can count on!

I hope this helps you plan out your timeline and soothes your nerves a bit if you’ve been chosen for the random audit. Check out my next post for study tips!

I'm a Project Manager living and working in Buffalo New York with my husband and probably too many pets. If you have questions about projects, the PMP or pets I'm your go to person! I hold both the CAPM and PMP certifications for PMI and I'm happy to help you on your professional journey!

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