What is PMP Certification?

PMP certification is a globally recognized credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Beginning the journey to earn your PMP certification credential is a significant milestone in your career. Although it can be a time-consuming and challenging endeavor, this globally recognized certification from PMI is undeniably worth the effort. As a sought-after credential held by over a million professionals worldwide, the PMP certification is essential for every project manager interested in advancing their career.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) sets the global standard for project management best practices, processes, methodologies, and professional ethics through its certification programs. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification stands out as the most widely recognized. This globally recognized credential not only distinguishes certified Project Managers but also verifies their ability to manage projects more efficiently across a diverse range of industries, such as healthcare, construction, information technology, and business.

By passing the PMP certification exam, candidates demonstrate their competence in managing people, processes, and business priorities in a professional project setting. With over one million PMP certification holders worldwide, this credential is highly regarded and applicable to project managers across various sectors.

In order to achieve the certification, you’ll have to meet the experience and education requirements and pass a rigorous exam.

What are the PMP Certification Requirements?

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification requirements are a tiered validation structure that ensures you have the necessary education and work experience. Earning the PMP certification means you must qualify for the requirements in addition to studying for and passing the PMP exam. Meeting these requirements is the first step to success in preparing for your PMP Certification Training Class.

In this article, we will review the PMP certification requirements in detail. After reading this guide, you should know if you are qualified to sit for the PMP certification exam or not. Candidates must complete the verification section of the application to apply to take the PMP Exam. The full eligibility requirements are listed within the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook. This free guide is available from PMI’s website.

PMP Requirements Eligibility Quick Reference

pmp certification

HS Diploma, Associate’s Degree or Equivalent:

  • 7,500 hours spent leading and directing projects
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education
pmp certification requirements

Bachelor’s Degree or Equivalent:

  • 4,500 hours spent leading and directing projects.
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education

PMP Certification Requirements Video

PMP Certification Eligibility Breakdown in Detail

Academic Education

  • You will be asked if you have a secondary diploma or a degree. If you have a degree, you will need the name of the institution, the year you graduated, and the major of study.

Project Management Experience

Project management is a serious profession that requires communication with multiple stakeholders throughout the life of the project. While delivering the scope of work, project managers must carefully handle communications, team morale and attitudes and manage the various expectations of different stakeholders. Having substantial experience in project management is one of the requirements for certification.

  • Typically, the experience is in leading or directing projects, or project deliverables. The months of experience time frame requirement in non-overlapping months.
    • Working as a full-time project manager with two projects at the same time for two months = 2 months of experience, not 4.
  • The hours of project management experience are cumulative across all process groups, and within the last eight (8) years to be counted on the PMI PMP application.
    • Working as a full-time project manager with two projects at the same time (app.~160 hrs) for two months = 320 hours or experience.
  • What is Leading and Directing a Project?
    • It means that you have performed the role of a project manager and managed a complete project, or that you have managed part of a project. Essentially, it means that you should have done some of the tasks that are listed in PMP Exam Content Outline.

Formal Project Management Education

Project management requires advanced knowledge and understanding of project management tools, techniques and processes. According to the PMP Credential Handbook, the PMP exam “objectively assesses and measures experience, education and professional knowledge—the foundation of competent practice as a project manager.” There are 10 knowledge areas that a project manager has to be proficient in order to pass the exam. These knowledge areas are tested in five different project management process groups. In order to pass the PMP certification exam, a PMP candidate must score above a proficient level in these project management process groups.

  • You will need to show 35 contact hours of project management education.
  • The 35 hours of Project Management education requirement can be fulfilled by our PMP Certification Training.
  • What is a Contact Hour?
    • One hour of Classroom instruction equals one contact hour.
    • If you attend an 9 hour long session with breaks in-between, then you can claim (9 hours minus the break time) as contact hours.
    • You may use educational hours from college programs.
    • There is no time period or expiration on contact hours.
    • These hours can be accrued from classroom courses or online training workshops.

Prior to attending our course, you may complete our PMP Readiness and Overview course to get more information about the information required to pass the PMP exam, the PMP examination process, application and the steps for maintaining your certification. This online training option satisfies the required 35 contact hours of project management training and allows our students to complete their application and receive eligibility approval before attending our PMP Certification Training course.

For a more information about the eligibility documentation, please review the PMP certification requirements within the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook. This free guide is available from the Project Management Institute’s website. Within it, you’ll find a detailed description of the PMP certification, an explanation of who is eligible to apply, and the process to apply. It covers everything you would ever need to about the exam from an administrative point of view.

Ready to Get Started?

project management education

If your work experience and education meet the qualifications and requirements, we’d love to help you get started on your application and on the way to passing your exam by enrolling in one of our public pmp certification classes. We offer classes in over 20 cities and online, usually once a month.  Our instructor led courses cover all aspects of the examination as well as extremely helpful test taking strategies and exam simulators to make sure you are fully ready.

What is the Application Process for PMP Certification?

Because the PMP application is quite an involved process, we recommend that you gather all the relevant information related to your PMP application before you begin. Once the application has begun, it cannot be canceled; however, you can save your application and complete it later. The first thing we recommend is that you register to become a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI)

  • It typically costs $139 to become a member, but it saves you money on exam fees.
  • The standard non-member price to take the exam is $555. The PMI member’s price for the exam is $405.

Side By Side Cost Breakdown:

Item PMI Member Non Member
PMI Membership Fee:  $139 $0
PMP Application Fee: $405 $555
Total Cost: $544 $555
*Bonus – Retake Fee:  $275 $375

PMP Application Process

The online application provides a limited amount of space (500 characters). Use concise descriptions to describe the project management tasks the candidate led or directed for each project. There is no rush to do this step. We will help you with this as part of our PMP Course. You can use our PMP Course to satisfy the required 35 hours of education. Before submitting the application, you will need to read and agree to PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct and the Certification Agreement/Renewal Agreement. PMI® will review your application and respond within 3 to 5 business days. Once your application is approved you will receive an invitation to pay for and schedule the exam.

Scheduling your Exam with Pearson VUE.

  • You have one year to take the exam after your application has been approved.
  • You may take the exam up to three (3) times during the eligibility period.
  • Scheduling the Exam
    • Once you have been approved by PMI and paid to the PMP certification exam fee, you can schedule your exam with Pearson VUE. You will have one year from the time your application is approved to take the exam. You may take the exam up to 3 times during this eligibility period. You can find a complete list of testing locations on the Pearson VUE PMI page.
  • Take the PMP Exam
    • The PMP Exam is taken at your nearest Pearson VUE test center and is 200 questions with a 4 hour time limit. Because of the computer based exam, you will receive your score immediately, and you can share the good news that you are now a Certified PMP!


What is Tested on the PMP Exam?

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification exam content outline has three domains:

1. People – emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team.

2. Process – reinforcing the technical aspects of managing a project.

3. Business Environment – highlighting the connection between projects and organization strategy.

These sections each contain a variety of tasks and enablers, which are the more specific elements within the broad domains. They provide a deeper understanding of what a project manager should be able to do in each domain. Please note that the outline and percentage weighting can change as PMI updates the exam content from time to time. It’s always best to consult the latest Exam Content Outline available from PMI directly.

Details of these domains are outlined below:

People (42% of the exam)

  • Leading a Team
    – Defining team ground rules
    – Building a team
    – Nurturing a team
    – Managing conflict
  • Supporting Team Performance
    – Empowering team members and stakeholders
    – Ensuring team members/stakeholders are adequately trained
    – Building a team and managing a team
    – Addressing and removing impediments, obstacles, and blockers for the team
  • Empowering Team Members and Stakeholders
    – Promoting team performance through the application of emotional intelligence
    – Supporting diversity and inclusivity

Process (50% of the Exam)

  • Planning Project Work
    – Developing the project charter
    – Developing project management plans
    – Defining project scope
    – Creating the project schedule
  • Executing Project Work
    – Managing project changes
    – Implementing project management plans
    – Managing project knowledge
    – Managing project risks
  • Keeping the Team on Track
    – Leading a team
    – Managing conflicts within the team
    – Supporting team performance
  • Keeping the Business in Mind
    – Managing compliance requirements
    – Evaluating business benefits and value
    – Supporting organizational change

Business Environment (8% of the exam)

  • Understanding EVM (Earned Value Management)
  • Planning and managing project/program changes
  • Project governance
  • Identifying project benefits and analyzing stakeholder impacts
  • Understanding project compliance (including laws, regulations, and standards)

Frequently Asked Questions

​Does my job title have to be Project Manager?

No. Your job title in your organization doesn’t matter.  As long as you have the minimum (4500/7500 hours) PM experience, you are eligible to apply.

​What if I haven’t managed all parts of a project?

It does not matter if you have ​​managed ​a​ complete project o​r parts ​​of a project.​ As long as you have 4500 hours of project management experience, you can apply to sit for the exam.

Do I have to be a PMI Member?

The answer is no, PMI membership is not mandatory. There are a few benefits to becoming a member. PMI members receive a significant discount on their PMP exam application fee. This discount is greater than what it costs to become a PMI member. PMI members receive a free digital copy of the PMBOK Guide. It is easier to maintain your certifications by using free resources, materials and tools available to you, as a PMI member.

Additionally, many local PMI chapters offer discounts for workshops, chapter meetings, and events to PMI members.

How many years of project management experience are required?

The amount of project management experience required for a position will vary depending on the employer and the specific job requirements. Generally speaking, most employers look for at least three to five years of project management experience. However, some employers may require more experience depending on the complexity of the project and the size of the organization. Ideally, you should try and obtain contact information from someone in authority who was a part of the company when you were and can validate your time and experience. It doesn’t need to be a formal organizational representative however, a colleague or past co-worker is suitable

How long does it take to process the application?

​Online applications are typically processed within five business days. Individual applications submitted by mail take approximately 10 business days. Corporate applications submitted by mail take 20 business days. Once the application and fee have been processed, PMI will electronically send the Examination Scheduling Instructions, confirming that the applicant is eligible to take the exam.

What is an Audit?

PMI routinely conducts random audits on a certain percentage of the PMP exam applications. Although PMI does not publish what percentage gets audited, the general consensus is around 10-15% off applicants get selected at random for audit. PMI will notify if your application is selected for an audit, as soon as you submit your application. You will also receive an email from PMI with links to complete the audit. PMI’s officially says that it takes 5-7 days to approve the application. However, it can be approved within only a couple of days if the necessary documents are submitted quickly.

How long do I have to complete the PMP examination?

Eligibility is good for one year from the day that the application was approved. The exam may be taken three times within the eligibility period should applicants not pass on the first attempt. In some cases if you have a need to extend your eligibility, PMI will grant a 2-3 month extension.

What is the passing score for the PMP examination?

The passing score for the Project Management Professional (PMP) examination is determined by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMI uses a process called “psychometric analysis” to set the passing score. This process takes into account the difficulty of the exam, the number of questions answered correctly, and the number of questions answered incorrectly. Unofficialy, the pass rate for the PMP certification exam is approximately 68%.

How often do I need to renew my PMP certification?

The PMP certification is valid for three years, so you will need to renew your certification every three years. To renew your PMP certification, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) in the three years since you passed the PMP exam. You must also submit a renewal application and fee. You can earn PDUs in a variety of ways, such as attending conferences, completing courses, teaching, writing articles, and volunteering.

Do I need to renew my PMI membership to stay certified?

You do not have to be a PMI member to remain PMP certified, nor do you need to be a PMI member to get your certification. Many project managers join PMI as they are prepare for the PMP exam because they receive a substantial discount on the exam fees. The discount is greater than the yearly PMI membership, so it makes a lot of sense to join.

What if I do not meet the PMP Certification Requirements?

If you do not meet the PMP Certification requirements you can work on obtaining the additional education and work experience needed, or you might consider starting your career in project management with a Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM) certification. CAPM certification is an entry level project management certification offered by PMI. The CAPM certification is very valuable and respected by employers as well when they are looking for project management candidates.

There are CAPM certification requirements you must satisfy but they are not as rigorous as PMP eligibility requirements. The exam content is similar to that of the PMP exam however, the questions are much easier and require far less comprehension of the process groups and their application. If you start to your project management career by getting CAPM certified, you will be familiar with PMP exam process, as well as being better positioned to obtain PMP certification, as you will have fulfilled 21 of the 35 contact hours of education requirements. Our CAPM Training Course is designed to fully prepare you for the exam, along with the administrative steps, such as completing the application and submitting your contact hours.