PMI Credentials Aim to Bring Organizational Success

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The certification program at the Project Management Institute (PMI) enables members at multiple levels of project management to have their skills, education and experience recognized with credentials that are known and respected throughout the world.

Earning a professional credential through PMI means an individual has:


  • Demonstrated the appropriate education and professional experience.
  • Passed a rigorous examination.
  • Agreed to abide by a professional code of conduct.
  • Committed to meeting continuing certification requirements.

PMI’s Certification Governance Council, the volunteer committee that establishes PMI’s certification strategy on behalf of the PMI board of directors, has established the following strategic intents for the certification program:


  • Developing and maintaining clear value propositions for all credentials.
  • Remaining the global leader in project and program management credentialing, giving priority to cooperation over competition while ensuring competitive activities are undertaken fairly and ethically.
  • Expanding the levels and types of credentials and positioning them to meet the demands of the marketplace.
  • Maintaining standardized credentialing practices globally and driving innovative solutions that address regional and local stakeholders’ needs.

Program Management: The Next Step in the PMI Tradition
Continuing its 39-year tradition of advancing careers for those who have made project management indispensable for achieving business results, PMI is developing a new credential, the Program Management Professional (PgMP) for individuals managing programs.

This credential joins the highly sought-after Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credentials, and it reflects project management’s growing recognition around the world and across industries, as well as PMI’s role as the largest project management association in the world.

The PgMP will provide a market-recognized professional credential through which candidates can demonstrate their competence in managing programs. Competence will be evaluated through a sequence of assessments.


  • To become eligible to pursue the credential, a candidate will first be evaluated through an extensive application process, including reviews of education and professional work experience by a panel of program managers and PMI staff. The review will verify the candidate, under very limited supervision, is responsible for the coordinated management of multiple related projects and, in many cases, ongoing operations directed toward a common objective. The candidate will need to show a record of leading and directing project managers by observing the resources, schedules and technical performance of projects and operations that contribute to the ultimate success of a program.
  • The second competence assessment will be a multiple-choice exam in which the candidate must demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge to a variety of situational or scenario-based questions.
  • The third competence assessment will be a multirater assessment. A team selected by the candidate will evaluate his or her competence to perform germane tasks of a program manager in a work environment.
  • After successfully completing the multirater review and examination assessment processes, candidates will elevate their position in the marketplace and enjoy a distinct advantage in accessing new opportunities or increasing visibility within their organizations. An online registry of active professionals who hold the credential, similar to the PMP registry, will simplify verification and identification by employers and others.
  • Maintaining an active credential will require a commitment to program management and the individual organization by expanding professional knowledge. Taking training classes from a registered education provider (REP) is a convenient way for those with PMI credentials to meet their continuing certification requirements. Participants can choose from a network of hundreds of approved REPs that offer comprehensive training and examination preparation.
  • The new PgMP will follow in the tradition of the other PMI credentials in offering worldwide access and recognition. As program managers around the world earn the new credential, members of the global project management community will recognize it as the latest addition to a tradition of excellence in PMI project management certification.


The PMP Credential’s Value Continues to Grow

Globally, the number of PMP credential holders continues to climb, as employers value PMP certification, and as PMP holders gain value in being certified. The credentialing program is certified by ISO 9001 in quality management systems. Employers want project management practitioners who have demonstrated knowledge and ability in project management, which an active PMP certification indicates. Moreover, employers value project managers who update their technical skills and improve their proficiency, including soft skills. PMP holders accomplish this through professional development and by meeting the credential’s continuing certification requirements.

PMP holders have experienced an overall increase in professional opportunities. Those who seek upward mobility find the PMP credential is preferred or required. They also tend to earn higher salaries, as reported in the PMI Project Management Salary Survey, Fourth Edition.

Those who have held the PMP credential for two to four years earn median salaries of $64,400 — 15.6 percent higher than noncredentialed colleagues with similar experience.

Those who have held the PMP credential for five to nine years earn median salaries of $94,340 — 17.2 percent higher than noncredentialed colleagues.

Those who have held the PMP credential for more than 10 years earn median annual salaries of $102,000 — 13.3 percent higher than noncredentialed colleagues.

Although a new standard and a new credential in program management are gaining attention, the PMP credential continues to be of unquestioned — and growing — importance. The new standard and credential also will offer new advantages to employers and PMP holders, including:

  • A better-defined career path for PMP holders.
  • A more comprehensive approach to resource allocation.
  • Increased support for attaining organizational project management maturity.
  • Better alignment of projects with organizational goals, leading to better results.

Looking Forward: The CAPM Certification Offers Dramatic Growth Potential

Project teams that follow standard project management methodologies are more likely to meet their goals. Such teams benefit from streamlined communication, greater flexibility and, overall, more effective use of everyone’s time. This outcome is true for companies in which project management practices have or have not been embraced as a strategic imperative, where workers can serve on project teams without formal project management training.

PMI’s CAPM credentialing program helps project teams function more efficiently by providing team members with the fundamental project management skills needed to standardize processes and communications.

The credential is beneficial for entry-level project practitioners, for people who work on or provide support to project teams and for undergraduate and graduate students studying project management.

The CAPM credential increases the holder’s visibility on project teams and signifies the holder has the fundamental project management knowledge needed for effective project team performance. For these reasons, many employers feel project team members who earn the CAPM credential are valuable to their organization.

Since its release in 2004, nearly 1,000 people around the world have earned the CAPM credential. Another 3,100 are preparing to take the exam.

Given the volume of interest, PMI is confident the program’s growth will continue and eventually will outpace the growth of the PMP credential.

Candidates for the CAPM credential should extensively study “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Third Edition,” as the exam is based solely on the concepts and terminology outlined in that global standard. They also can take advantage of a growing number of REPs that offer training to help candidates prepare for the CAPM exam.

Several REPs offer CAPM preparatory classes in conjunction with courses that are specific to project management in certain industries — information technology, construction and health care, to name a few.

Driving Value into PMI Credentials Through Strategic Planning
If you want to lead the field, you must map the course that will get you there. By setting the strategic intents for PMI’s project and program management credentials, the Certification Governance Council (CGC) ensures PMI remains the global leader for project management credentials.

“We’re guiding the ship slowly in the direction of our strategic intents, and we make course adjustments based on the demands of the market,” said CGC Chair Scott G. Fass, PMP.

Based on input from global stakeholders, the CGC and PMI’s Certification Department make decisions that are in the best interests of certification stakeholders.

“The composition of the PMP community and PMI’s membership have changed over time, and we listen to all voices,” Fass said. “Today, we are focused on meeting the demands of the global market. We perform surveys and undertake focus groups before adding credentials so we can be sure we are improving based on the needs of the global profession.”

Foremost, the CGC looks out for the best interests of PMI’s credential holders. For example, based on global research, the group recently changed the PMP credential to require project leadership skills.

“We have a strategic direction and a sound process to guide us, as opposed to changes based on small pockets of data,” Fass said. “If you hold the credential, you care about changes that occur because they will affect who will become your future credentialed peers.”

Previously known as the Certification Board Center, the CGC was created in 1998. The new name better reflected its role in working with the PMI board, which is responsible for PMI’s direction.

In 2004, the CGC was tasked with developing strategic intents for PMI’s certification program.

“If you hold a CAPM and are interested in progressing toward other credentials, you’ll want to know you’ll have choices in the future. These will help you in your career,” Fass said. “PMP [holders] are very vocal about the strength of the credential, and we are working on their behalf. If you have information you’d like to share with us, we are open to making decisions based on the needs of the global market.”

Patti Harter is the manager of career management projects for the Project Management Institute. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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