Project management involves any activity to produce a specific product, service or outcome. Examples of projects include expanding into a new market, launching a new product or designing a new manufacturing process. In each case, project managers lead the effort to achieve organizational goals on-time and on-budget. Project management certification isn't required, but it can strengthen your skills and help you stand out in the job market. Various certifications are available, but the Project Management Professional credential is "the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers," according to the Project Management Institute.
The PMP credential can enhance your credibility with existing and future employers. Passing the PMP exam and becoming certified indicates your level of work experience and that you have have received formal instruction in project management. The credential also establishes your adherence to high ethical and professional standards. To apply, you must have between three and five years of project management experience, have spent 4,500 to 7,500 hours directing projects and completed 35 hours of training depending on your education.
The PMP credential results in increased marketability and earning power, according to the "Project Management Survey" conducted by the PMI. Employers value certified professionals more highly than others, according to research by The Standish Group as reported by CIO in 2010. Moreover, the number of chief information officers requiring their project manager employees to be certified grew from 21 to 31 percent between 2005 and 2009. Some employers place more value on certification than others, such as IBM, which employs approximately 25,000 certified project management professionals as of 2010.
Certification may lead to more personal success when managing projects. Project managers without PMP certification have fewer projects completed on time and on budget, according to the PMI's "Pulse of the Profession" research as reported by CIO in 2010. However, not everyone agrees since there are many factors that affect a project's success such as corporate governance, funding and end-user buy-in. There's no guarantee that the PMP credential will enhance your success, though it certainly won't hurt your chances and may even have a positive effect.
As with any credential, the PMP certificate plugs you into a valuable network of professionals. While preparing for and taking the exams, you'll have the opportunity to network with your fellow examinees; later, when you've earned the credential, you'll become a full-fledged member of a professional society. You'll have the opportunity to meet with local chapter members, complete further training and participate in other member activities. You'll have an advantage of networking with other PMP holders within your organization to advance your career.