I am a long-time financial services IT project professional in the Greater Boston area typically working for large, financial services corporations. Roles I typically fill include Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Product Owner. I am proud of the breadth and depth of my knowledge and experience.
That said, I had been aware for several years of the value that many employers place on some professional certifications, including the PMP. Additionally, I do try to continually improve myself, personally and professionally.
As a result, in 2018, I decided it was time to take action and determine a very short list of self-improvement, professional certification opportunities. Due to its rigor, recognition, and subject matter, the PMP was an immediate front-runner for my pursuit. After much hard work, I recently qualified for and passed the PMP exam, and am now a certified PMP.
If you are a long-time IT project management professional who is developing interest in obtaining the PMP certification, then I offer you the following Possible Steps to PMP Certification as a plan for you:
- Understand the requirements
- Qualify for the exam
- Prep for the exam
- Take the exam
Here are some additional thoughts on each of the above.
Understand the requirements
Read it well.
I recommend signing up for membership with the PMI if you are serious about the PMP. As a member, there are online resources available and a reduced PMI exam price available.
If you are less serious / less committed, you can just prep for the exam without going through the qualifying steps and circle back to that later.
Qualify for the exam
You need to apply online.
Part of the application process involves entering in a certain number of hours over a certain number of years, by category. If you are a long-time full-time IT project work, you will easily exceed the number of required hours. Newer project management professional will not. Be accurate in your numbers.
You could potentially be audited.
Some employers / project teams use tools such as JIRA to track and report hours. You could potentially work with the JIRA administrator in you company to generate some reports for you to help you determine your applicable hours.
Another part of the qualifying for the exam is taking at least 35 hours of approved training.
This can be classroom, online, or other, and must be through an approved vendor. This can cost up to $2,000 for a week long in the classroom experience. Or less than $20 for an online course. Connect with me on LinkedIn and I will share with you the vendors I used and my thoughts on them. I hesitate to be too blunt in a public blog as I found that pricing and quality varied wildly. Also, price and quality did not directly correlate, in my experience.
Once you complete the 35 hours, update your online application at PMI.org Or update your online application incrementally for approved training of fewer hourly increments.
After you meet the education and experience hours, you will qualify for the exam. You have a year to take the exam. You have to pay in advance of taking the exam to qualify for the exam and to start the clock.
Once you qualify for the exam, PMI will email to you a link with instructions for signing up for the exam.
Prep for the exam
READ THE PMBOK.
You can get an online copy (e.g., with a PMI membership), or if you are “old school” like me, buy it hard copy (e.g., from Amazon.com or other vendor).
Just doing your 35 hours of training is not enough. You must read the book in detail.
Don’t obsess over the ITTOs (don’t try to memorize each component of the lists), but a solid understanding the sequence of events is critical.
Rita Mulcahy’s is generally considered the gold standard among the PMPs I questioned, but I did not use hers. I used one by Kim Heldman which was awesome; I used a version that had online questions available. Other books and versions are available.
Also Read: Robyn Weible shares what NOT to do during a PMP prep. Don’t miss this.
DO LOTS OF PRACTICE QUESTIONS.
Kim’s book has some great questions. Practice questions from other vendors were great, too. But some vendor’s had questions of low value and quality. Don’t be surprised if some questions by some vendors are of poor English or are even logically wrong.
CONSIDER an exam prep review. A study guide and/or an online video. I found one by Joseph Phillip’s which was excellent.
Take the exam
In the Greater Boston area, the exam is only proctored at a Prometric location. I don’t know about other regions or countries.
Sign up for the exam early enough in advance to get a time slot and location that works well for you. If you are a “morning person,” sign up for a morning time slot. If you don’t wish to take a scheduled vacation day from work to take the exam, then target a weekend time slot.
You have 4 hours to complete 200 questions.
Leave no blank answers.
Do a brain dump at the beginning of the exam and write out some key info like formulas and sequences.
Be well rested and well hydrated going into the exam.
Also Read: Click to discover a trick Pratiksha accidentally discovered that automatically fast-tracked her exam prep.
The exam targets your understanding of PMI’s methodology and terminology. In the real world, methodologies, frameworks, terminology, experiences, and preferences will vary wildly. So, you may need to put all those aside for the exam, and focus on PMI’s methodology and terminology.
After the exam, synthesize and leverage what you have learned through your PMP exam preparations and apply it to your own projects.
Don’t hesitate to speak with your friends and co-workers in your area and industry who are PMPs. Seek their inputs into your PMP preparation journey.
Upon obtaining your PMP certification, celebrate!! Perhaps a nice dinner out with someone special! Or perhaps plan a vacation day or two away from work (and away from studying) for some rest and relaxation!
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