If you want to be certified as a project management professional, you need a bachelor’s degree in a related field and at least 4,500 hours (10 to 12 weeks of full time work) that covers the five project management areas: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. Alternatively, you could get a diploma in this field from a secondary program and show that you have 7,500 hours of work experience in these five areas. In both cases, the emphasis is that your education was both knowledge-based theory and hands-on practical.
After you meet the initial requirements for project management certification, you have to take at classroom course that covers at least 35 hours of learning. There are several courses that meet this qualification. Upon submitting your paperwork, you can then take the project management professional (PMP) test, which is a 200 question multiple-choice exam that will last about four hours.
The PMP test is available through the Project Management Institute, through you don’t have to be a member to take the exam and receive your certification. Membership costs $100, and currently, members can take the test for $405. Non-members can take the test for $555, so financially, it does make sense to become a PMI member, though there may be other unrelated reasons that you opt not to be a member of this organization.
While the PMP test is a one-time exam that you have to take to be certified, you do have to have continuing education in order to remain certified as a project management professional. Every three years, you must earn at least 60 professional development units, which boils down to about 60 hours of professional education. You can do this through volunteering, taking PMI quizzes, publishing professional papers, taking registered educational courses, taking part in online classes, and more. Many of your professional development units may come for activities you already do as a member of processional organizations or by working with your company, so it is simply a matter of remembering to submit the paperwork.
Although the certification process is expensive, by getting your certificate, you’ll qualify for better jobs at higher salaries. Many companies hiring entry-level project managers specifically look for candidates who are seeking certification or who currently have certification, and if you want an advanced degree in your field, your school may require this certification to even enter the program.
The first step, obviously, is finding a degree or diploma program that fits your career goals. Look for a program that offers a concentration in project management, while still sticking to the industry you enjoy the most. This will increase you chances of finding a job you love when you graduate. Programs for computer technology, communications, business, and more are available for project managers both online and offline from accredited schools, so begin your search today to learn more about your options in this field.