Management Potential: Unpacking the PMP Certification

Project completion rates are on the rise — recent survey data found that in 2018 almost 70 percent of projects met their original goals, and just under 60 percent stayed on budget. As projects grow in size and scope; however, success becomes elusive: IT projects with budgets over $1 million are 50 percent more likely to fail than their lower-funded counterparts.

As a result, project managers can expand opportunities with the skills and knowledge necessary to keep large projects on time and budget. But in a global market increasingly governed by compliance and regulatory expectations, project management potential can’t be assumed. C-suite executives and corporate recruiters are now looking for verifiable and quantifiable expertise.

Certification offers the shortest route to a career in project management — options such as the PMP certification can help your resume stand out from the crowd. Not sure if PMP is the right path for you? Let’s break down some of its biggest benefits, examine key requirements, dig into the exam, and answer one of the most common questions asked by potential project managers: PMP or MBA?

The Benefits of PMP Certification

Created by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the project management professional (PMP) certification is one of the most popular management-track qualifications in the world. Some of its biggest benefits include:

  • Global recognition — Based on standardized project management practices, the PMP certification is recognized and sought-after worldwide.

  • Expanded job opportunities — Every business has projects on the horizon or in-progress efforts that aren’t meeting expectations. As a result, the PMP certification is viable and valuable in any industry, providing a wealth of job opportunities.

  • Improved salary potential — The average salary for a PMP-certified expert in the United States is just over $110,000, and PMP holders are typically paid 17% more than their non-certified counterparts.

  • Enhanced job security — Even during times of economic unrest, projects continue they simply shift focus to cost management and recovery. As a result, PMP holders enjoy both job security and stability over time.

  • Increased skill depth — PMP certification leverages the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, which contains globally-recognized processes, terminology, best practices, and guidelines.

Earning the PMP certification also clarifies that you prioritize positive project outcomes and demonstrates to recruiters that you’re willing to put in the work since the PMP exam is widely recognized as both in-depth and difficult, even for experienced project managers. Successful completion speaks to both your theoretical knowledge and practical expertise.

What are the Requirements for PMP Certification?

PMP isn’t an entry-level certification. Successful candidates need a mix of real-world project experience and theoretical knowledge to obtain PMP certification, and PMI also lists specific qualification requirements, including:

  • A four-year degree
  • At least 36 months of leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management training or education

It’s also possible to apply for PMP certification with a high school diploma or associates degree but requires 60 months of project leadership.

Is the PMP Exam Difficult?

The PMP certification exam is challenging. It has 200 multiple choice questions with a four-hour time limit and covers a wide body of in-depth project management knowledge. While no pre-exam coursework or training is required, it is recommended, even for project managers with substantial real-world experience.

Because project management is continually evolving, obtaining the PMP certification depends on combining practical skills and theoretical knowledge. Comprehensive PMP training courses help current managers refresh their existing skillsets and ensure new project managers are equipped with the knowledge they need to complete the exam.

The PMP certification exam costs $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members.


PMP certification and MBA degrees are often favorably compared by corporate recruiters and C-suite executives, but which one is better for your career?

While both are business-focused qualifications that help professionals expand their job opportunities and enhance their earning potential, their focus and frameworks differ. MBA degrees typically require two years to complete and focus on all aspects of a business — although this includes project management, MBAs also provide broader skillsets for human resources, accounting, and operations. Meanwhile, PMP is an experience- and exam-based certification that focuses solely on effective project management using the PMBOK framework.

The best fit for your career depends on both your short- and long-term goals. If overall business management and administration is your preferred career path, it’s worth investing the time and money into a degree-based MBA. If your primary focus is project management, and you’re looking to expand your potential job pool across industries, PMP offers a clear path to success.

Put simply? PMP certification comes with global career potential. This highly-structured, cross-industry qualification also offers increased job security, stability, and salary, making it a worthwhile investment for any professional looking to boost their management potential.

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