PMP Certification: How To Become a Project Management Professional

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: February 22, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Business
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If you want to learn how to become a project management professional, you will need to learn about the PMP certification. As a project management professional, you can enter into a rewarding career. This type of career can include a high salary, excellent opportunities, and so much more.

Before you decide to go down this career path, it’s important to understand, PMP certification isn’t easy. It’s a rather difficult process but can become a very important step in your career. Let’s look at how to become a project management professional and the PMP certification.

PMP Certification

What is PMP?

PMP stands for Project Management Professional. PMP certification is a program used for skilled project managers. This type of career is in very high demand with a need to fill around 2.2 million positions by 2027.

The PMP certification is the right choice for project professionals. It gives you the credentials to show you’re highly skilled in the following:

When you get your PMP certification, you will show employers your ability to lead a project. It will cover three key approaches including Agile, Predictive, and Hybrid. This certification helps you to prove you can work smarter and it will give you a competitive edge.

Top 3 Benefits of PMP Certification

1. Shows You can work with Project Management Industry Standards

When you earn your PMP certification, you will gain a big advantage. This certification provides you with the credential to show you can work in compliance with industry project management standards.

2. Higher Pay

With a PMP certification, you can likely earn a higher wage. This certificate is very respected by employers looking for quality project managers. They will pay a higher wager for someone with a PMP certification.

3. Global Standard

Many certifications are handled at the state level, but the PMP certification is a global certificate. It’s accepted in nearly all industries across the world.

Along with these benefits, employers gain benefits, too. Hiring project managers with a PMP certification means projects will be completed on time and at the correct budget more often.

How to Get Your PMP Certification

The steps to get your PMP certification start with meeting the requirements. You will need to meet one of two sets of requirements including:

Once you have met one of these sets of requirements, you can work on the next steps towards getting your PMP certification.

Apply for Your PMP Certification

The next step in the process is to apply for the PMP certification. As long as you meet the requirements, you will be able to apply and start the self-preparation or special PMP certification exam preparation course. This course is very important as it will help you prepare for the PMP exam, which can be difficult to pass.

While a PMP prep course isn’t required, it’s highly recommended. With the right prep course, you can gain the help you need to pass the first time.

The PMP Exam

The exam will include 200 situational questions with multiple-choice answers. It will likely be held at a Prometric certification testing center and it’s available in 13 languages, in addition to English. Only 175 of the questions are scored with 25 considered as pre-test questions. You still have to answer all questions, however, as you won’t know which are the pre-test questions.

The test will include a breakdown of questions closely resembling the following:

Once you complete the exam, you will receive the results immediately. If you successfully pass, you will get your PMP certificate in the mail.

PMP vs. Six Sigma vs CAPM

While all three of these designations are highly regarded in the project management community, they are not exactly the same. A PMP certification is known as the industry standard. Six Sigma is rather similar, however.

While PMP methodology will focus on the processes needed to improve the success rate of a project, Six Sigma will use processes to identify the defects or waste so it can be eliminated.

Six Sigma tends to be better suited for the finance, technology, and manufacturing industries. PMP, on the other hand, can be applied to any industry.

CAPM is another option, but it’s not considered to be as good or as comprehensive as a PMP certification. CAPM provides a stepping stone for those new to project management. You won’t need as much experience for CAPM and it can help open some doors before you qualify for the PMP certification.

Frequently Asked Questions About the PMP Certification

How much can I make as a Project Management Professional?

According to, you can earn an average annual salary of about $161K as a project management professional. The range of salaries for this position goes from about $69K to $253K per year.

Your salary will be determined by the industry you work in, your actual job title, and your location. Some industries pay more than others. Those working for the government will likely earn more than $116 per year, while those in the private sector will likely earn closer to $130K per year.

If you choose to go into the pharmaceutical industry, your average salary will likely be close to $131K per year. Other top-paying industries include Aerospace, Engineering, Healthcare, and Information Technology.

Washington DC is the highest paying location, with Los Angeles and New York City next on the list. You can also earn a higher salary in other big cities, such as Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago.

What type of benefits are common for project management professionals?

Depending on your employer, you might get a benefits package that includes paid time off, health insurance, and a 401(k). Some employers will offer stock ownership plans, a health savings account, and even a flexible spending account.

What will I do as a PMP?

When you become a project management professional, you will use the skills, knowledge, techniques, and tools you were taught to manage a project for your employer. You might work in scope management, time management, stakeholder management, risk management, procurement management, quality management, or cost management. It’s likely, once one project is completed, you will move on to another.

Do I need a PMP certification to work as a project management professional?

It might not be required, but a PMP certification is incredibly helpful if you want to go into project management. It has become industry standard for many employers and you won’t be able to compete without a certification.

In addition, a survey from 2017 called the Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey showed that those with a PMP certification earned about 23% more than those without a certification.

What are PDUs?

Once you get your PMP certification, you will probably learn about Professional Development Units (PDUs). These are continuing education credits you will need to maintain your certification. You will need to complete a certain number of PDUs every three years to stay certified.

You can earn educational PDUs through learning opportunities. It’s also possible to earn PDUs through giving back within the profession. You will need to get 60 PDUs every three years with at least 35 being educational PDUs to remain certified.

Some PDUs can be earned online. Others will require you to volunteer.

Where is the PMP exam held?

The PMP exam is administered through Online Proctored Testing or Center-Based Testing. You will likely take the exam at the center nearest to your location.

When is the PMP exam held?

You can take the PMP exam just about any day of the year, depending on your location. There is no set schedule since the exam is given at testing centers all throughout the4 world. After getting an exam eligibility code, you can schedule your exam date and time with a local testing center.

How much does the PMP exam cost?

The cost of the PMP exam will cost $555 unless you are already a PMI member, then the cost is $405. You will likely need an exam prep course, as well. This course will vary in cost with the average cost around $2,000.

If you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, you will need to pay an additional fee to take the exam again. The fee is $375 or $275 for PMI members. This fee will be the same for any additional attempts needed to pass the exam.

There are many good reasons to get your PMP certification. If you’re planning on learning how to become a project management professional, this is a step you will likely take. It can help you earn a higher wage and give you the credentials you need to gain employment in many industries.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.