You can’t attain PMP certification without relevant project management experience. You need at least 36 or 60 months of experience in leading and directing projects before you can apply for the exam.
Having said that, you can take the exam even if your job title is not Project Manager.
Let’s understand the requirements and pre-requisites for appearing the PMP exam and specifically look at experience requirement in detail.
Note: If you do not have the relevant experience for PMP, you can look at CAPM certification. It can become a stepping stone for passing the PMP exam.
PMP Certification Without Project Management Experience
PMP is a highly valued certification and hence its qualification requirements are somewhat stringent. You can’t appear for the exam without having the requisite project management experience.
In order to fill the PMP exam application form, you need at least 3 years (36 months) of project management experience under under your belt. This can increase to 5 years (60 months) if you do not have a four-year bachelor’s degree or global equivalent.
In addition, you need to undergo 35 hours of formal project management education to be eligible for the exam. This requirement is waived off for the active CAPM certification holders.
The educational and professional experience requirements, as stated by the PMI, are tabulated below.
|Educational Background||PM Experience||PM Education|
|Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent).||Min 5 years / 60 months unique non-overlapping professional PM experience.||35 contact hours of education.|
|4-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent).||Min 3 years / 36 months unique non-overlapping professional PM experience.||35 contact hours of education.|
You can refer to our article on eligibility requirements for PMP certification for understanding the items of above table in detail. Let us understand the experience requirement in detail.
What is Project Management Experience?
Experience in project management refers to time spent in performing various project management tasks during the entire duration of a project.
Till 2020, PMI needed a minimum of 4,500 and 7,500 hours of project management experience for professionals having bachelor’s and secondary degree respectively. Now PMI does not specify any minimum number of of hours. It just says a minimum of 3 and 5 years of project management experience.
For the ensuing discussion we will assume that minimum 4500 / 7500 hours are still required.
Here are a few examples of of how you can attain the required hours:
- Case I: You have done project management activities worth 4500 / 7500 hours in a single project.
- Case II: You have worked in multiple non-overlapping (sequential) projects and have done project management activities worth 4500 / 7500 hours.
- Case III: You have worked in multiple overlapping (simultaneous) projects and have done project management activities worth 4500 / 7500 hours.
While calculating your experience hours, you must remember the following things:
- You should focus only on project management activities and not on all project activities.
- You should consider hours across all your project in last 3 or 5 years (as per your educational qualification)
- You must count only non-overlapping hours across all your projects.
Why does PMI Need PM Experience?
While aiming for PMP certification, you must have a good understanding of both technical and practical approaches to project management. This will help you in understanding and appreciating the PMBOK Guide concepts. It will also make your study easier.
You can co-relate this to a situation where medical practitioners have to go through residency and internship programs before they can become doctors. You would not want a heart surgeon who has only passed the written test and has no practical knowledge to be allowed to operate you. Rather you would prefer a doctor who has successfully passed the written tests and has a very good record with heart surgeries.
PMI makes it very clear that the certified PMP delivers what they have learnt from real-life practice. Only passing the exam without any relevant experience will not take you anywhere in becoming a good project manager.
Proof of Experience
PMP credential is globally recognized for project management skills and experience. Hence this must not surprise you that PMI undergoes extensive measures to verify the applications. They randomly review applications before you go for the PMP Examination.
If your application comes under audit, PMI can ask for proof of educational qualification or proof of contact hours.
Examples of Project Management Experience
Project management is an integral part of any industry today. Industries like Defense, infrastructure, Construction, Information Technology, Energy, and Healthcare depend on project management for launching new services and products. Projects also help in bringing new initiatives to fruition like cutting improving operational efficiencies and bringing down the cost.
Professionals working in the above industries or any other sector that undertakes projects can be eligible for taking the PMP exam.
While supervising a project you must also have experience in the 5 Process Groups viz. Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & control, and Closing.
Here are a few examples of the tasks that can be considered as project management activities:
- Planning: Project managers create a blueprint of the entire project. Every detail of how the plan will move forward is defined in this very first step. This includes the main aim, Resources needed, estimated time frame, a plan B, in case there are any deviations and more.
- Leading: Project managers lead the project team by communicating with them, the necessary details and ensuring that everyone is clear about basically everything.
- Execution: Once the plans have been made, it’s time for executing them. A project manager has to make sure that the plans are laid accordingly.
- Budgeting: A key responsibility for project managers includes coming up with — and sticking to — a budget for the project. If unexpected financial issues arise, it’s up to the project manager to manage them and reallocate resources where necessary.
- Documentation: Project managers keep a record of each project’s progress with tools such as data collection and status reports.
- Troubleshooting: It’s crucial to come up with a plan for the ongoing success of the deliverable; this includes troubleshooting and maintenance.
- Coordination: Project managers should be able to maintain harmony between her/his teammates and resolve conflicts if any.
While counting your experience it is not necessary that you should have a project manager designation or title. You title could be anything like functional leader, supervisor, group manager, senior executive etc. It is also not necessary that you have handled a complete project.
Depending on your industry and area of work, the projects handled by you could be large or small but that does not matter as long as you have the relevant experience.
CAPM Certification Exam
If you don’t fulfill the requirements for PMP certification then don’t worry and don’t feel down. PMI has some basic level certification for professionals who have less experience. If you are someone with less experience than you can go for some other certification like CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) and till then fulfill your PMP requirements.
In this way, you can fulfill both PMP requirements and gain a professional certification too.
How to get Project Management Experience?
You should spend your time in getting project management experience while you pursue CAPM. This way you will be ready for the PMP exam in a few years.
The project management experience can be gained through on-the-job activities like:
- Review your previous roles and responsibilities to determine if you have any.
- Shadowing project management experts and mentors.
- Volunteer for small projects within your organization.
- Take on contributory project management roles outside your organization.
- Build connections with experts to get your first job as a project manager.
- Contact your company’s Project Management Office (PMO) to see if you can help.
- Speak to your supervisor or HR department for setting up a PMO in your organization if it doesn’t exist.
Take this quick quiz to find out whether you are eligible for the PMP exam.
If you have the requisite project management experience and are looking for a training then you can look at our PMP 35 contact hours online training course. It is a wholistic preparation program that comes with every possible study aid.
Our PMP program is priced as low as USD 149 in USA. Our training is unmatched in the industry. It will enable you to pass the PMP exam in your first attempt and, in case you are unsuccessful, we will refund 100% training fee.
If you still have a doubt about PMP requirements then you can contact us with your query and we will answer it.
Over To You
Do you have the requisite experience for applying to the PMP exam? Do you think CAPM is a more suitable certification for you at this juncture.
Please write your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.