How to Get PMP Certification: Process

Instructor: Laury Hales

Laury has taught in professional adult education settings for over 10 years and is currently working on a PhD in Organizational Psychology.

Obtaining a PMP certification is not a difficult process, but the right steps must be followed to obtain it. In this lesson, we'll learn how to get a PMP certification.

What Is PMP Certification?

Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the gold standard of certifications for project managers. It is obtained through the Project Management Institute, and it tells employers and peers that you have the experience, formal specialized training, and demonstrated knowledge to successfully act to a high standard in the role of project manager. It is proof that you can take on the challenging projects with on time and on budget results.

PMP certification requires a process that begins with several thousand hours of practical experience, includes formal specialized training in project management processes, and ends in a certification exam.

Get Some Experience

There is no substitute for experience, and PMP is globally recognized as validation of your experience. To count for PMP certification, experience must be in leading and directing projects in unique and non-overlapping projects. Additionally, the experience hours need to be spent in each of the five PMI process groups:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing

You can't count the same hours in a single project for two processes, even if activities in both processes were completed in those hours. You have to break up the hours between the two applicable process groups.

For example, if you have a project that requires new internet service to a building, you would have to find out what companies are available in your area, compare internet packages, select a company, and schedule a time for the company to come install the internet equipment. You've covered activities in both the initiating and planning processes.

However, if you spent 3 hours on the phone doing all of this, you couldn't count all 3 hours in both the initiating and the planning processes. You would have to break up the hours between the two phases according to how much time you spent accomplishing activities in each process. If you spent an hour researching the available companies in your area, you would count 1 hour to the initiating process and the remaining 2 hours to the planning process.

The number of hours you'll need depend on your level of education. If you have a high school diploma, associate's degree, or a global equivalent, you'll need to have 7,500 hours of unique project management experience. If you have a bachelor's degree or a global equivalent, you'll need 4,500 hours of unique project management experience.

The number of hours isn't the only factor; the experience must be gained over at least a 36 month time frame for those with a bachelor's degree. If you have a high school diploma, associate's degree, or equivalent, the experience must be gained over a 60 month time frame. Obtaining all the required hours in less time can be done, but it won't suffice. You must have the required number of experience hours spread over the minimum number of months to obtain a PMP certification.

Because the required number of hours is significant and take a minimum of 3 years to accumulate, many PMP certified project managers recommend recording your experience hours as they are gained. Something as simple as a spreadsheet will work, as long as it contains all the needed information. To record hours, you need to note the following:

  • Project name
  • Project phase
  • Number of hours
  • Manager

It is possible to have multiple entries for the same project; remember that you need to break up the hours by process group. If you led a project from inception to completion, you would have 5 entries for that particular project to note the hours you spent in each process group.

Formal Specialized Training

In addition to experience, PMP certification requires 35 hours of formal specialized project management training. Often referred to as 'contact hours,' this specialized training must be in the area of project management.

It can be obtained in different formats, such as face to face or online learning environments and through attendance in courses, workshops or training sessions. However, the specialized training cannot be self-directed learning. So, reading a book on project integration management would not count, but the same material covered by an instructor would be considered formal training.

This requirement is the same regardless of your level of education or number of experience hours; it is 35 hours for everybody.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create an account