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Prerequisite for PMP Certification

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A Project Management Professional certification demonstrates mastery of the Project Management Institute’s project management framework and also shows that you have the skills and experience required to lead and direct projects. High standards and strict eligibility criteria ensure that only qualified people can schedule the exam. Every PMP exam application goes through a completeness review to verify that prerequisites have been met before the PMI gives permission to schedule the test.

Prerequisite Overview

PMP prerequisites focus on three areas: general education, project management knowledge and job experience. Everyone must have either a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree to meet the general education prerequisite. PMI also requires that everyone complete an additional 35 hours of formal project management education. Job experience requirements, which vary according to whether you have a high school diploma or a college degree, ensure that everyone can handle the tasks and responsibilities expected of a project manager.

The 35-Hour Contact Rule

PMI refers to the 35 hours of formal project management instruction requirement as contact hours for two reasons:

  • One Contact Hour is equivalent to 60 minutes of project management instruction
  • The training must involve direct contact with your instructor. Although you can enroll in an online training program, it can’t involve independent or self-directed study.

Any training specific to project management counts no matter how long ago you competed the training. You’ll need to enter the information on your application and keep a certificate of completion or letter of attendance as supporting documentation in case your application is selected for exam application audit.

Job Experience Hours

An applicant with a high school diploma will need at least five years of on-the-job experience within the past eight years that includes at least 7,500 hours of direct leadership. An applicant with a college degree will need at least three years of project management experience within the past eight years and have at least 4,500 hours of direct leadership experience. In both cases, there is a non-overlapping requirement. This means that no two projects can overlap, so if you’re working on two projects at the same time, only one project can count towards meeting the experience requirement.

Job Experience Requirements

To count as on-the-job experience, a project must first meet PMI’s definition of a project, which is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product. Although there is no specific requirement for how many hours you must complete in each of PMI’s five process groups -- initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing a project -- your application must show that you have experience in all five groups. Refer to the most current Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline for specific information on the job experience criteria for each of the five process groups.


About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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