Does PMP Certification increase your salary?
If you’re a project management professional or considering a career in the field, you can expect to earn a salary that is nearly double the median wage of the United States’ full- time workforce.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker brought home a salary of $47,788 for full-time work in the third quarter of 2019. On the other hand, project management professionals take home a median salary of $92,000. And for those who hold a PMP® (Project Management Professional) Certification, that figure is even higher: PMP Certified professionals average a salary that is 23% greater than those without the prestigious credential.
Demand for workers with project management experience is only expected to grow over the next ten years, and an estimated 2 million jobs are expected to be available each year. Whether you’ve just begun your career in project management or have years of experience under your belt, earning your PMP Certification can help position you as a top candidate to fill these highly coveted roles.
If you’re trying to decide whether earning a PMP certification is right for you, you’ll no doubt want to find answers to a host of questions to help you make the right decision, such as:
- What impact will PMP Certification have on my salary?
- Do I need to get PMP certified for my job?
- How much does a PMP make?
- What are the other benefits of PMP certification?
- Do I have the time to earn my PMP certification, or even qualify to sit for the exam?
Offered by PMI (the Project Management Institute), the PMP Certification is one of the most highly valued professional credentials across many industries. It’s also known as one of the most challenging credentials to obtain.
Because of the powerful impact that a PMP certification can have on your salary and career and the rigorous criteria one must meet to receive the designation, it’s essential to understand the commitment required to achieve it. As such, in the following article you’ll learn more about the benefits of earning your PMP certification, understand the impact of PMP certification on your salary, and explore other factors to help you decide whether you meet the requirements for PMP certification.
Project Management professionals bring home an annual salary that is nearly double that of the average full-time American worker.
What Impact Does PMP Certification Have on Salary?
If you check five different sources, you’ll turn up five different answers to this question, leaving you with no choice but to question the validity of any of them. When considering a significant investment of your time, energy, and money, you deserve to have all the facts without any embellishment. And, when it comes to the question of PMP certification salary, the truth is impressive enough on its own and doesn’t need embellishing.
PMP certified respondents reported earnings 23% higher, on average, than those without PMP certification.
According to PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey 10th ed, the median salary for a PMP Credential holder in the United States was $112,000. They also note that across 37 surveyed countries, PMP certified respondents reported earnings 23% higher, on average, than those without PMP certification.
In addition to PMP Certification status, other factors can also contribute to your salary as a PMP certified professional. Your location, job title, company size, and other experience and credentials may all factor into your overall compensation and career opportunities.
- Where you work: Project Management Professionals in Switzerland, the United States, and Australia enjoy the highest median salaries among surveyed countries. Even your city within a high-earning country can increase or decrease your expected salary after obtaining your PMP Certification, however. See what PMP certified professionals near you are earning: Explore PMP Salary by City.
- What you do: Across industries and occupations, those with a PMP Certification enjoy higher salaries than their peers who have not achieved the credential. See what you might make in your profession after earning your PMP certification: Explore PMP Salary by Job Title.
- Who you work for: It’s no surprise that, often, larger companies can afford to pay larger salaries to their high-value employees. The size of your company and the size of your projects can impact the salary you’ll receive after achieving PMP Certification: Explore PMP Salary by Company Size.
- How long you’ve been working: No matter your line of business, experience often, if not always, leads to increased salaries. For PMP Certified Professionals, the number of years they’ve maintained the credential yields a similar upward trend: Explore PMP Salary by Experience.
PMP Salary by City
At the time of this writing, there are over 14,000 open positions listed on Indeed for PMP Certified Project Managers in the United States alone. Here are the top ten cities hiring PMP Certified professionals right now and the salaries* available for those with the experience and credentials to secure them:
PMP Salary in Washington DC
In Washington DC, 749 jobs from dozens of employers (including Microsoft and the CIA) are seeking mid- to senior-level project managers across multiple industries, with salaries ranging from $90,000 to $115,200.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Washington DC
PMP Salary in New York City
In NYC and surrounding areas, Facebook, Columbia University, and multiple other employers are seeking qualified candidates to fill more than 400 positions with salaries between $85,800 and $115,100.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in New York
PMP Salary in Seattle
In Seattle and surrounding areas, Amazon, Starbucks, and the Infectious Disease Research Institute join dozens of other employers in seeking experienced project management professionals to fill more than 300 positions that pay between $85,000 – $120,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Seattle
PMP Salary in Atlanta
The Home Depot, Georgia-Pacific, and WebMD are among the employers seeking candidates to fill 300+ open positions with salaries ranging from $80,000 to $160,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Atlanta
PMP Salary in Chicago
United Airlines, Verizon, and Cisco Careers are among the dozens of employers recruiting residents of the Windy City for their 275+ open project management positions, with salaries estimated to be between $80,000 and $115,200.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find a PMP Certification Training in Chicago
PMP Salary in Houston
In Houston, Hewlett Packard, KBR, and The Taligens Group are among the employers seeking candidates to fill more than 225 positions with salaries up to and exceeding $150,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Houston
PMP Salary in Austin
Residents of Austin and those interested in relocating can consider opportunities from Apple, Visa, Facebook, and more if they have the experience and credentials needed to fill one of the 200+ available project management positions paying $75,000 – $110,000 in the Texas town.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Austin
PMP Salary in Arlington
In Arlington, VA, and surrounding areas, Amazon, General Dynamics Information Technology, and IGNITEC are among the employers seeking qualified candidates to fill project management roles that pay an annual salary between $80,000 and $180,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in Arlington
PMP Salary in San Francisco
PMP Certified Professionals in San Francisco are being courted by Dropbox, the City and County of San Francisco, DocuSign, and more to fill 194 open positions with salaries surpassing $125,000 per year.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find a PMP Certification Training in San Francisco
PMP Salary in San Diego
In San Diego, General Atomics, Kaiser Permanente, and The Scripps Research Institute join dozens of other employers seeking qualified project management professionals to fill more than 175 positions with salaries between $80,000 – $125,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training in San Diego
PMP Salary Freelance - Remote
The rise of freelance and remote working independent contractors has benefited PMP certified project managers. Many employers are seeking qualified project management professionals to fill positions with salaries between $88,000 – $115,000.
Need to get PMP Certified to qualify? Find PMP Certification Training Online
PMP Salary by Job Title
PMI currently recognizes 870,000 PMP holders worldwide, and these professionals vary significantly in both the industries in which they work and the roles they now occupy. The salary data that PMI has collected from its members and credential holders can provide valuable insight into the salary you can expect after obtaining your PMP certification based on your current role.
As would be expected, professionals with the title and job description of Project Manager III have more responsibilities than those with the title Project Manager I, and their respective mean salaries ($112,314 and $89,380) reflect this.
82% of respondents to the PMI salary survey are PMP certification holders. As such, the chart below compares various job titles with the salary data collected from PMI, Payscale, and Glassdoor to provide the most thorough view of the size of the salary increase you might anticipate after obtaining PMP certification.
|Job Title||PMI Salary||Payscale Salary||Glassdoor Salary|
|Project Management Specialist||$90,000||$68,957||$70,045|
PMP Salary by Industry
The industry in which you work will also factor into the salary you can expect to receive as a PMP certified professional. Those who earn their wages on the government payroll fetch just over $116,000 per year, while those in the private sector bring home $130,402 when working in the legal arena and $131,833 in the pharmaceutical industry.
Other notable industry salary differences for PMP Certification holders:
Across industries, the division or department in which you serve will also impact your overall compensation. Those working under the arm of an IT department of an organization earn an average annual salary of $114,447, for example, while the mean for those in Research and Development is $120,466.
Other notable department salary differences for PMP Certification holders:
|Sales and Marketing||$109,952|
PMP Salary Increase and Tenure
In most industries and positions, you can expect your salary to increase commensurate with your experience and tenure. For PMP certification holders, this continues to hold. The salary that PMP certification holders enjoy consistently increases as the years add up over which they have maintained the credential.
The median salary in the United States for a PMP certification holder who has been certified for fewer than five years is $103,000, for example, while the midmost salary for those who have held the credential for ten or more years is $130,000. Those holding a PMP certification earn salaries that consistently exceed their non-credentialed peers, and their status as credentialed professionals further compounds these increased wages.
Other Factors That Impact PMP Salary
The size of the company you work for and the size of the projects you manage, both in terms of the budget and the number of people on your project teams, will also influence the compensation you can expect as a PMP Certified project professional.
What’s the ROI of PMP Certification?
You’ve already seen how earning a PMP Certification can lead to a salary that is more than 20% higher than your non-certified peers. But as someone working in project management, you know that the full picture needs to include more than just the value of the result. After all, you would never execute a project without assessing its value and feasibility. So now that you know the value of a PMP certification let’s explore the commitments you’ll need to make and the tasks you’ll need to complete to attain it.
PMP Candidate Requirements
Before you can sit for the PMP Certification exam, you’ll need to demonstrate your qualifications to do so. PMI requires that all candidates meet both the experience and education requirements below before they can sit for the exam. On your exam application, you’ll need to provide proof that you have the following:
|• A four-year degree (which may be a bachelor’s degree or its global equivalent). |
• 3 years/36 hours (minimum) of project management experience with a minimum of 4500 hours leading projects
• 35 hours of project management education, at minimum
|OR||• A secondary degree (such as an associate’s degree or high school diploma). |
• 5 years/60 months (minimum) of project management experience, with a minimum of 7500 hours spent leading projects.
• 35 hours of project management education, at minimum
While only 35 contact hours of project management education are required to sit for the exam, most candidates will also include self-study and other exam preparation activities to ensure they are equipped for the notoriously challenging exam.
PMI has not published a pass/fail rate for the exam in more than a decade; however, they acknowledge that many who sit for the exam do not achieve a passing status on their first attempt. Therefore, they allow for three attempts within one year, with additional fees for each exam.
On the first attempt at passing the exam, applicants are required to pay an exam fee of $555.00, or $405.00 if you are already a PMI member. Applicants who do not pass the exam on their first attempt may retake it up to two times within one year for a fee of $375, or $275 for PMI members. The table below illustrates what your financial investment could look like should you choose to pursue certification:
|Pass on the 1st Attempt||Pass on the 2nd Attempt||Pass on the 3rd Attempt|
|$555 Exam fee |
$405 Exam fee (member)
|$375 Exam fee |
$275 Exam fee (member)
|$375 Exam fee |
$275 Exam fee (member)
|$2000* Exam Preparation Course||Plus investment costs from previous column||Plus investment costs from previous columns|
|Total PMP Certification Cost: $2555 |
|Total PMP Certification Cost: |
|Total PMP Certification Cost: |
*Exam preparation class fees are estimated and will vary by provider
As the average PMP Certification holder earns a salary of $112,000 per year, the total cost to gain certification equates to the earnings received from fewer than 50 hours. For the sake of comparison, consider that it would take an additional 11 hours paid at the wage of those earning the average salary of a non-certified project professional.
PMP Certification Salary vs. MBA Comparison
As you saw above, you can attain your PMP certification in fewer than three months at the cost of $2555 – $3305. To earn your MBA, you’ll need to commit 18-24 months and can expect your expenses to start at $60,000.
PMI’s Salary Survey found that respondents with a master’s degree and those with PMP certification achieved a mean salary that differed by fewer than $1000. The real difference is in the effort required to achieve it:
For a PMP Certified professional, an investment equal to slightly more than one workweek is required both financially and practically.
For a professional who pursues an MBA instead, 26 weeks of their post-degree wages will be required to recoup their investment, and 1.5 to 2 years will be required of them.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to deduct the costs of preparing and sitting for the PMP exam from your taxes or have them covered by your employer. As each person’s situation is different, you should always consult with your accountant or financial adviser to decide whether you qualify for any tax deductions or credits.
Summary and conclusions
- If you’re a project manager with at least 2-3 years of experience, you may meet the PMP certification requirements and qualify for the credential.
- The PMP Certification distinguishes its holders worldwide as leaders in their field. It tells employers and peers alike that you have the ability, competence, and experience to lead successful project teams using the most effective methods and standards.
- On average, PMP certification holders earn a salary that is 23% greater than their uncertified peers.
- PMP Certified project managers and those with an MBA earn a salary that differs by only a few hundred dollars. Still, the commitments they make financially and practically are widely disparate. Qualified PMP candidates can expect an investment of $2500 – $3300 to attain their PMP certification. An MBA carries a cost of $60,000, at a minimum, and requires 18-24 months of study.
Is PMP Certification right for you? If you meet the PMP education and work experience requirements, and are ready to take the next steps toward advancing your career, check out our PMP Certification Boot Camp. Our instructor-led courses are available in person in more than 20 cities as well as online. They cover all aspects of the examination and provide you with access to exam simulators and expertly-developed test-taking strategies to make sure you’re 100% ready for test day and on your way to passing. Find a PMP Certification Boot Camp Class in your city now.