Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification : A Comprehensive Guide

Written by the MPUG Community of PMP Experts

Product Management Profesionals standing

The increasing need for efficient and effective project management in today’s business world has led to a surge in demand for skilled professionals. As organizations strive to keep pace with a rapidly changing market, they are turning to project management methodologies to help them achieve their goals and objectives. This has led to a growing number of professionals seeking PMP certification, as it demonstrates their expertise and sets them apart in the competitive job market.

What is a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification?

The Project Management Professional Certification (or PMP Certificate) is a globally recognized certificate issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI) that tests Project Managers’ experience and ability to manage projects, people, and business priorities through ways of working. The certificate based on the PMI BOK is one of 8 credentials offered by the PMI.

Project professionals designed the PMP exam to confirm to potential employees that you have the necessary skills to be a successful Project Manager. The exam is meant to assess your ability to plan and execute processes, manage people, and your ability to connect an organization’s strategy with projects. The PMP has recently been updated to include three approaches :

According to PMI’s exam outline, 50% of exam questions in the new exam will consist of Predictive approaches and the rest a combination of Hybrid and Agile.

PMP Certification Eligibility Requirements

You can obtain the PMP Certification by passing the PMP exam and meeting the experience requirements, but to be eligible for the exam you need to meet the exam requirements. These requirements include :

  • Four Year Degree
  • 36 months leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
  • High school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
  • 60 months leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification.

Not sure if you are eligible? Read More Here

PMP Certification Exam

The PMP exam change was introduced in 2021 by the PMI Institute to accommodate the evolving demands of project management, organizations, and people. The PMP exam is based on the Exam Content Outline (ECO). The ECO is akin to a syllabus for the PMP exam.

PMI usually revises the ECO once every three to five years. It is done to keep up with the current project management trends and maintain standardization of the PMP exam.PMI Published the ECO for the current version in 2015. The new version of the exam will be based on the ECO released in May 2019.

The old PMP Exam

The old project management certificate exam focussed on the following :

  • Initiating the project (weighted at 13 percent)
  • Planning the project (weighted at 24 percent)
  • Executing the project (weighted at 31 percent)
  • Monitoring & controlling the project (weighted at 25 percent)
  • Closing the project (weighted at 7 percent

The ECO for the PMP exam is based on a Role Delineation Study (RDS). An RDS is a study done to assess the roles and functions, in this case, of a project manager, to determine their job description. This study is done as part of a global practice analysis to determine new trends in project management.

The last RDS was done in 2015, which resulted in the current version of the ECO. PMI conducted another RDS in 2019 and came out with a new ECO as mentioned earlier. From January 2, 2021, the new ECO will become the basis for the PMP exam.

The new PMP Exam

The ECO for the PMP exam is based on a Role Delineation Study (RDS). An RDS is a study done to assess the roles and functions, in this case, of a project manager, to determine their job description. This study is done as part of a global practice analysis to determine new trends in project management.

The last RDS was done in 2015, which resulted in the current version of the ECO. PMI conducted another RDS in 2019 and came out with a new ECO as mentioned earlier. From January 2, 2021, the new ECO will become the basis for the PMP exam.

The new exam contains inputs from trends discovered in PMI’s latest GPA. According to PMI’s PMP Examination Content Outline of January 2021, the GPA highlighted the dynamic environments in which Project Managers work, as well as the different tools used to execute and manage projects.

PMP New Exam Contents

The new project exam will focus on the following 3 domains :


This domain carries an overall weight of 42% and evaluates a project manager’s leadership skills and ability to manage people. This domain is broken down further into tasks including some of the following

  • Building/leading a team
  • Managing conflict
  • Empower team members and stakeholders


The second domain carry’s an overall weight of 50% and evaluates a project manager’s technical knowledge. It is broken down to include some of the following

  • Assess and manage risks
  • Plan and manage budget and resources
  • Plan and manage the scope

Business Environment

The remaining 8% is attributed to a project manager’s ability to comply with organizational requirements. It is broken down to include some of the following tasks :

  • Evaluate and deliver project benefits and value
  • Plan and manage project compliance
  • Support organizational change

PMP Exam Structure

The PMP exam is structured as follows :

  • 180 questions total
  • 230 minutes (3 hours 50 minutes) to complete
  • Two 10-minute breaks
  • A combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blank questions

Earn an MPUG Project Management Certificate

PMP Certification Training

How do you prepare for the PMP exam? Project Management Professionals have different opinions on how to prepare for the PMP Certification Exam. Most agree that relying on your existing knowledge is not recommended. The PMI reports that on average every successful PMP takes roughly 35 hours to prepare for the exam.

Authorized Training Partner: PMI recommends working with either Authorized Training Partners (ATPs) or the PMI® Authorized On-demand PMP® Exam Prep course.  PMI Authorized Training Partners are organizations aligned with PMI that have successfully completed a PMI Authorized Training Partner Train the Trainer – PMP Exam Preparation Program and whose instructors use PMI-developed training course content, like MPUG

MPUG as a PMI ATP: MPUG remains an Authorized Training Partner (ATPs) with PMI to deliver live online PMP training, deep-dive certificate series sessions, hosting hundreds of on-demand training videos, helpful articles, and resources, as well as a community forum for all your Project Management Professional PMP training and questions is just the start of who we are.

By combining peer collaboration with the most up-to-date online training and resources, MPUG’s unique structure will help you make the most out of your PMP experience. An MPUG Premium Membership supplies you with complete and unlimited access to, including:

MPUG You LogoLearn how an MPUG Membership helps individuals and teams become better project managers and Microsoft Project users through Microsoft Project Training.

Join MPUG to attend live training webinars, access 500+ hours of on-demand sessions, receive certificates of completion, and earn the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Professional Development Units (PDUs) needed.

Study the PMBOK Guide: As our expert Author Cornelius Fichtner sets out in his article : “How to Pass Your PMP Exam in 30 Days” , in addition to reading through lessons others who have taken the test and passed, studying A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is recommended. It’s important to note that the PMBOK guide alone is simply not enough. The Overview of PMBOK Guide 7th Edition lesson presented by Jeff Bongiovanni is a good starting point.

Watch MPUGs On-Demand Webinars: An MPUG Membership gives you full access to MPUG’s on-demand PMP training webinars broken down by the 3 categories of the new PMI Talent Triangle framework to satisfy the 35 contact hours required to apply for the PMP ® certification.

Join For MPUGS Live Virtual Webinars: When you join MPUG you get access to MPUG’s Live Virtual PMP training Webinars where you can engage and ask questions to instructors

Online courses: MPUGs expert-led courses like The Do’s and Dont’s of Microsoft Project provide you with a deeper understanding of how Microsoft Project can be utilized to improve your project management skills

Read Expert Articles on PMP Exam Tips and Tricks: Often times the best way to learn is from others’ mistakes or successes. MPUG has a wide range of expert resources including :

How long is the Project Management Certificate valid?

The PMP Certification is valid for 3 years during which you will have to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) to meet the criteria to renew your PMP Certificate. If you do not meet the required PDUS after 3 years, your PMP Certificate will be suspended for one year, after which it will no longer be valid. Meeting your required PDUs after a 3-year cycle extends your PMP certificate for another 3 years.

PMP Certification Salary

According to a survey conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI), professionals with PMP certification often earn higher salaries than those without. PMI reports that globally, PMP-certified project managers earn an average of 16% more per year compared to their non-certified counterparts.

In the United States, the difference in earnings is even more significant, with PMP certified professionals earning 32% more, as reported by Forbes, than those without the certification. The average salary of PMP-certified professionals can vary depending on factors such as location, industry, and years of experience. However, on average, PMP-certified professionals can expect to earn a higher salary than those without the certification. According to a survey conducted by PMI in 2021, the median salary for PMP-certified professionals was $129,000, compared to $112,000 for non-certified professionals.

PMP Certification Renewal

To maintain their PMP status, certified individuals must participate in the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This program requires PMP holders to earn a certain amount of professional development units (PDUs) within the three-year certification period. These PDUs can be obtained through multiple means, such as attending professional development courses, presenting at conferences, or writing articles. Once the required amount of PDUs has been earned, they can be submitted to PMI for certification renewal.

How much does the PMP Certificate Cost

The cost of the PMP Certificate in theory stretches further than just the cost of the exam If you consider the time invested to gain the 36-month or 60-months experience, based on your secondary qualification, to be eligible for the exam, as well as the cost of training to prepare for the pmp exam.

Entry into the exam will cost you $405 if you are a member of PMI, and $555 if you are not. PMP Exam Prep Training could cost you up to $2 000 from institutions like the Project Management Academy.

How do you apply for the PMP Exam?

To apply for the PMP Exam follow this step by step guide :

  • Step 1: Verify your eligibility by checking that you meet the education and experience requirements for the PMP certification.
  • Step 2: Create a PMI account on the PMI website.
  • Step 3: Complete the PMP application form and submit it along with the required documentation, such as proof of education and experience.
  • Step 4: Pay the PMP certification fee, which varies depending on your PMI membership status.
  • Step 5: Schedule your PMP exam by selecting a date, time, and location that works for you.
  • Step 6: Prepare for the PMP exam by studying the PMBOK Guide and any other materials recommended by PMI.
  • Step 7: Take the PMP exam and receive your exam results.
  • Step 8: Once you pass the PMP exam, you will be certified as a PMP professional by PMI.
  • Step 9: You will need to maintain your certification by earning continuing education hours and reporting them to PMI every three years.

How to determine if your organization needs a PMI Certified PMP

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not to hire PMP-certified personnel for project management. These include the size and complexity of the projects being managed, the experience and expertise of the project management team, and the organization’s overall goals and objectives.

PMP-certified personnel has demonstrated a high level of knowledge and experience in project management, making them better equipped to handle the challenges and risks associated with complex software development projects. If your company is involved in large, complex software development projects, hiring PMP-certified personnel may be beneficial.

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Additional PMP Exam Resources

Frequently asked PMP questions

What is PMP Certification?

PMP Certification stands for Project Management Professional Certification. It is a globally recognized certification that demonstrates a professional’s ability to lead and direct projects.

How can I prepare for the PMP exam?

You can prepare for the PMP exam by studying the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) guide, taking PMP certification training courses, and gaining practical experience in project management.

How long does it take to get PMP certified?

The time it takes to get PMP certified varies from person to person and depends on several factors such as the amount of time dedicated to studying, the experience level of the individual, and the method of study. On average, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months to prepare for the PMP exam.

How much does it cost to get PMP certified?

The cost of PMP certification varies depending on several factors, including the method of study, the location of the exam, and whether or not you are a PMI member. On average, the cost can range from $500 to $1,000.

Do you have to have a degree to obtain a pmp certificate

No, you do not necessarily have to have a degree to obtain a PMP certificate. However, you must meet the educational requirements set by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

How difficult is the PMP Certificate

The difficulty level of the PMP certificate exam can vary depending on the individual candidate’s level of experience and knowledge in project management. The exam covers a wide range of topics, including project integration management, project scope management, project time management, project cost management, project quality management, project resource management, project communications management, project risk management, and project procurement management. Candidates are expected to have a strong understanding of these concepts and be able to apply them to real-world scenarios.