PMI’s Project Management Professional Certification

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Organizations need individuals and teams with solid project management knowledge and skills. The project management profession plays a key role in the competitive global business arena. Savvy customers demand better products and faster services. Time-to-market pressures force greater efficiency. Project managers across the country and around the globe are growing in numbers and gaining power in the workplace due to the proven success of their practice. It is necessary to ensure that standards of experience and skill level in the project management profession are maintained in order to meet the evolving needs of the global business economy.

Project Management Professional
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential was developed to provide an indication of project management skill level in addition to establishing a standard by which project management skill could be measured. In 1981, PMI volunteer Matthew H. Parry initiated a routine project, which was completed two years later. In August 1983, PMI’s Project Management Quarterly published a report on the project titled “Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation (ESA).” This report later became the basis for the first draft of “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).”

PMI recognized that mastering the processes outlined in the ESA, and later established in the “PMBOK Guide,” helped project managers ensure that their projects were successful. PMI also recognized a demand for a credential indicating that a project manager had mastered these skills.

The first PMP certification examination was held in Philadelphia on Oct. 6, 1984. Forty-three individuals passed the exam and became the first Project Management Professionals.

By receiving this certification, project managers are able to provide employers and their clients with proof that they possess the knowledge and skills necessary to manage major projects successfully and efficiently.

PMP candidates include those who:

 

 

  • Perform their duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of a project for the life of the project.
  • Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget and resources.
  • Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined project requirements and deliverables.

 

PMI requires a rigorous application process for the exam. The extensive process not only ensures that all candidates taking the exam are well qualified, but it also helps verify that the individual has adequate experience for a PMP and is prepared for the test’s intensity.

Eligibility requirements include a high school diploma (or global equivalent), 7,500 hours of experience leading and directing project tasks and 35 contact hours of project management education. If the candidate holds a bachelor’s degree (or global equivalent), the requirements consist of 4,500 hours of experience leading and directing project tasks and 35 contact hours of project management education.

In order to receive the PMP certification, applicants must complete and pass the PMP exam. To make certain that only qualified individuals are awarded the PMP credential, the exam goes beyond a simple test for knowledge recall. It requires the candidate to have a thorough understanding of project management and knowledge that can be applied to a variety of situations. The test contains six performance domains: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, closing, and professional and social responsibility.

Because the PMP exam assesses candidates’ experience as well as their ability to apply their knowledge in a variety of project management situations, it is impossible to study for it from one textbook. However, candidates should have a strong grasp of the nine knowledge areas detailed in the “PMBOK Guide – Third Edition.” PMI offers several other resources that aid individuals in preparing for the test, including the “PMP Handbook,” “PMP Code of Professional Conduct” and the “PMP Exam Specification.”

Maintaining the Standard
In order to maintain the certification standards that have encouraged so many to seek the credential, PMI has found it necessary to revise and improve the credential continuously. Organizations often view the PMP as proof of an advanced ability to execute a project, and it is necessary that the PMP continues to reflect that advanced skill level.

This continued improvement was the motivation behind the recent revision of the PMP credential. PMI conducted considerable market research in 2004 to explore aspects of the PMP that needed to be revised. PMI opted to increase the value of the PMP credential in order to match the elevating professionalism of the field. This was accomplished by increasing the skill level and restructuring the exam and eligibility requirements to reflect the increased skill level of individuals who are leading and directing project tasks.

A primary difference between the latest version of the PMP credential and the prior version is that candidates are now required to demonstrate that they have “led and directed” project tasks. Additionally, there is an increasing proportion of situational questions to knowledge recall questions in the examination that assess a higher level of experience and skill. PMI also added non-scored, pretest questions as a means to gain important question performance data that is used in creating future versions of the examination.

Additionally, the revised PMP credential requires applicants to list supervisor or manager contact information for each project they submit on their application in order to verify that the applicant led and directed project tasks. This application process helps to ensure that those project managers who are working to obtain a PMP have displayed an appropriate level of knowledge and ability.

PMI’s Other Credentials
As the project management profession continues to grow and evolve, a demand has developed for other credentials that indicate levels of project management expertise. PMI has recently updated its Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credential.

The CAPM was created for project team members, specialists on project teams, students and entry-level project management employees working to establish and demonstrate fundamental project management knowledge. The CAPM provides a view of the process and terminology of project management and provides employers with an indication of knowledge level. It also provides less experienced team members with the ability to communicate with more senior project management practitioners by learning standard project management terminology and processes.

Reflecting an Expanding Profession
Every year finds more employers requiring a PMP designation on job requisitions and more organizations linking the necessity of project management skills to their success. Many of these organizations are multinational IT firms, but beyond these, one can find the title “project manager” in the HR files of automotive manufacturers and suppliers, construction and infrastructure contractors and aerospace and defense organizations as well.

As these and other industries continue to add project managers within their organizations, more practitioners will seek the PMP and CAPM credentials and accordingly, it will be necessary for certifications to reflect the expanding profession in updating and maintaining the standard.

For more information regarding the PMP certification, CAPM certification or PMI in general, visit www.pmi.org.

Denny Smith, Ph.D., is the manager of the certification program with PMI. Since joining PMI in 2001, he has been managing exam development,

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