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PROJECT MANAGEMENT CERTIFICATION GUIDE:How to become certified Project Manager?

Updated: Jun 13

Preparation for PMI PMP certification
Preparation for PMI PMP certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certificate offered by project Management Institute (PMI) is one of the most recognized certificate for professional Project Managers in the World and will provide you a visible sign of your advanced experience and skills and will give you a distinct advantage in employment and promotion.

In this Project Management Certification (PMI PMP) Guide will be described everything you need to know about professional project management certification process.

#1 Certification process

The certification process can be described in 7 steps:

STEP 1: PMI Membership

Membership in PMI is not mandatory for certification application, but it will provide you free access to all PMI publications and PMI partner sites that will be useful resources for retention and renewal of PMP credential as they are providing free education materials, webinars, articles, virtual conferences, etc.

Membership price for 1 year period is $129, but if you are becoming member for first time, you will also need to pay $10 first time member fee. If you want to be also member of local chapter, membership for local chapter is $15/y.

PMI Croatia local chapter supports and promotes the project management profession in Croatia. It organizes monthly gatherings and conferences during the year and local chapter members usually have discounts and can collect PDU (Professional Development Units) which are required to maintain the credential.

STEP 2: Application Submission

Once, application is started, the deadline for completing the application is 90 days. Advice is to prepare all application information offline before starting the application process.

STEP 3: Application Completeness Review

PMI Administration reviews the application within 5 days.

STEP 4: Audit (optionally)

Once, application is submitted process can go into two directions. First, your application can be automatically approved and then you can go to Step 5: Payment process. Second, it can be selected for Audit.

If selected for audit, PMI will send e-mail to your contacts who were provided as witnesses of experience on projects to confirm provided experience. PMI processes the audit material in a period of 5-7 days.

Advice is to announce your contacts in advance that you are in certification process and if selected for audit to check e-mail from PMI (also bulk, spam or promotions).

After experiences are confirmed from your contacts you will be transferred to next step in process, payment. If you don’t pass audit than you will be suspended in 1 year period and after that you will need to submit different projects for new application and audit is mandatory for next application review.

So, to prevent this situation, advise is to hire mentor with strong background in understanding PMI mindset when describing project experiences.

After application is approved, eligibility period for taking the exam is 1 year and you can take exam 3 times in 1 year period. Each time, you have to pay exam fee.

STEP 5: Payment Process

Payment must be made before scheduling the exam. Price: $405 for PMI members or $555 for nonmembers.

The re-examination/retake costs for the PMP exam, if you cannot ace it in your first attempt, are $275 for PMI members and $375 for non-PMI members for each retake.

STEP 6: Schedule Exam

After payment, the place and time of the exam is selected. The exam can also be taken online, but it is necessary to provide special equipment. More information about online test is here.

You don't have to sign up right away, you can wait until you are ready with studying. However, advice is to schedule it at least one month before, especially if you are taking the test at a test center, due to availability of free appointments in the exam center.

STEP 7: Multiple choice examination

PMP exam is based on PMI Examination Content Outline (ECO) that covers 3 domains, with % of items in test:

  • People (42%) - focus on communication practices, dealing with conflict as well as your ability to engage, motivate and get the best out of people.

  • Process (50%) – focus on how to deliver a project from the inception of the business case, through to a charter, planning and understanding requirements, doing and controlling the work and finally understand what was delivered.

  • Business Environment (8%) – focus on keeping the value / benefit of the project to the fore as the project is delivered. Focusing on benefits, organization positioning as well as value delivery.

PMI PMP Examination Content Outline (ECO)
PMI PMP Examination Content Outline (ECO)

Test duration is 3.5 hours, consists of 180 questions and will test your knowledge of Examination Content Outline (ECO).

At the beginning of the exam, a tutorial is launched with information on how the exam application works, and at the end of the exam, a questionnaire about the satisfaction of the participants is filled out. The duration is 5-10 minutes and is not included in the exam time of 3.5 hours. The exam includes 2 breaks of 10 minutes each: after 60 questions and revision of answers and after 120 questions and revision of answers.

Watch out! When you revise questions and the break starts, you will no longer be able to go back to previous questions.

Expect multiple choice questions, questions with formulas and pictures (hot spot questions), matching (drag and drop questions). Exam results are available immediately.

A calculator is built into the exam, pen and paper/notepad are provided in the classroom.

Exam results are available immediately.

The certificate lasts 3 years and 60 PDU points must be collected from the time of passing for extension. How to collect PDU points is described in “What happens after certification” section.

#2 Journey starts with the experience

To apply for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential, you need to either have:

  • A four-year degree

  • 36 months leading projects

  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification


What is also good to know regarding experience and education:

  • Experience must be in the last 8 years.

  • The duration of the submitted projects cannot be in parallel, otherwise only one will be accepted.

  • Education can be from any area of project management, but it is best to take a PMP preparation course from certified PMI ATP Instructors due to the availability of authorized PMI exam preparation materials.

  • The registered projects, as well as the education, should be completed by the time of application for the exam. The "In progress" option during registration will calculate the time until the moment of registration.

#3 Application preparation – education and experience

When preparing application, you need to enter basic information about your organization and contact information, then formal education, professional education (35 hours of project management education/training) and project experience for each project until 36 or 60 months (depending on formal education) is satisfied.

PMI PMP Application preparation
PMI PMP Application form

After you submit application, if you are selected for audit, you will get message that your application has been submitted and selected for audit.

PMI PMP audit process
PMI PMP audit process

After audit process is completed, you will also get message that your audit process is successfully completed and that you can go to next step in process – Make Payment.

PMI PMP successful audit process
PMI PMP successful audit process

#4 Projects experience descriptions – best practice

When preparing descriptions for your project experiences keep in mind selected approach/methodology, because descriptions of Project Managers role need to fit in project approach. At the beginning, best practice is to describe project objective and at the end project results. In the middle, suggestion is to describe your role according to project phases (preparation, planning, executing, closing) or their versions in different methodologies.

Watch out! Project description must match to project approach selected (predictive, adaptive, hybrid).

#5 Exam preparation

PMI PMP exam preparation sources
PMI PMP exam preparation sources

In order to pass the exam, it is not enough to read a Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)- 6 & 7 edition, but a number of different books and instructions:

  • PMI Courseware – materials provided by PMI ATP Instructors that contain all necessary resources for exam preparation (manual, videos, check lists, case study, exam question examples, examples of project artifacts…). Current PMI Courseware is released in January 2023 and based on PMBOK 7th edition.

PMI Courseware is provided in pm4you certification preparation program.
  • Agile Practice Guide – part of the PMBOK Guide 6 edition and it is mandatory for learning about adaptive approach to project management practices.

  • Process Groups: A practice guide– published in October 2022, offers useful and practical guidance for a predictive approach to project management practices.

  • PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct - all PMI members, volunteers, certification holders and certification applicants must comply with the Code.

  • PMI Certification Handbook - handbook contains information on what to expect when you apply for one of the globally recognized and highly valued PMI® certifications.

For practicing exam questions you can buy PMI simulator - consists of around 280 practice questions examples and costs $99 (for PMI members) or use PMI Study Hall: The Ultimate Study Buddy to test your knowledge before exam.

#6 Tips & Tricks

More tips how to prepare for certification:

  • Prepare all application information before starting the application process.

  • Read and practice PMI Courseware and ECO at least 3 times.

  • Practice a maximum of 2 times on each test simulator.

  • Don't memorize definitions, understand the context of use.

  • The questions on the exam are situational, there are very few "definitions".

  • Ensure support from family, colleagues and boss.

#7 What happens after certification

Collect 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) in 3 years period to renew your certificate.

If you are a PMI member at that time, you'll pay a renewal fee of $60. The PMP renewal cost for nonmembers is $150.

PDUs collection is based on PMI Talent Triangle and knowledge gathering should be connected to these 3 domains:

People | Power Skills - The critical interpersonal skills required to apply influence, inspire change and build relationships.

Process | Ways of Working - Mastering diverse and creative ways (predictive, adaptive, design thinking) to get any job done.

Business Environment | Business Acumen - Effective decision-making and understanding of how projects align with the big picture of broader organizational strategy and global trends.

PMI PMP talent triangle
PMI PMP talent triangle

PDUs can be collected in different ways:

  • Working experience

  • Trainings, seminars

  • Attending conferences

  • Giving back to profession - Volunteering (e.g., in local PMI chapter)

  • Self- learning (e.g., reading books, articles, webinars…)

  • Giving presentations or trainings from project management

Also, one great recommended source for self-learning is Project website.

Get your head in the game

If you are interested in most efficient way to prepare for PMP certification, sign up for the pm4you Instructor-Led PMP certification preparation program that will enable you:

  1. All you need in one training - instructor will evaluate your qualifications and prerequisites for certification and review application. Also, instructor will prepare study plan and provide exclusive license for access to official PMI Courseware® studying materials and 35 hours of project management training.

  2. Working with PMI Instructor in structured discussion and dialogue where you will connect practical project experience with PMI mindset.

  3. Individual mentoring sessions during studying period with Instructor to support your goal and keep motivation.

  4. You will be enrolled in study group with colleagues who are looking to achieve the same goal as you.

  5. You will be prepared to pass the exam from the first attempt in period up to 3 months since beginning of training.

Training is starting in October 2024 and is limited to 5 participants. You can book your seat with Instructor:

Let me help You become and remain Professional Project Manager!

Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate
Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate

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