A Complete PMI Certification Guide
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A Complete PMI Certification Guide

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a not-for-profit association for the project management profession. PMI offers certifications, global standards for project management, a network of project management chapters, PMI certification training and education programs, events, project management thought leadership and academic research.

PMI offers eight project management certifications, including the Project Management Professional (PMI PMP certification), which is reputed to be the worldwide gold standard project management certification. Based on PMI certification salary reports and career opportunities, employers recognize the value delivered by PMI certified project management practitioners.

This guide contains a comprehensive introduction to the various Project Management Institute certification programs:

  • What is PMI Certification?
  • PMI vs. ITIL
  • PMI Certifications
  • How Much Does It Cost to Get PMI Certified?
  • PMI Recertification and Renewal
  • PMI Certification Suspension/Expiration
  • PMI Certification Salary and Career Information
  • PMI Certification Training

PMI vs. ITIL

PMI certification is related to the traditional function of project and program management. Professionals with PMI certification are capable of managing programs and projects of any type and in any industry. By comparison, ITIL (the Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework of twenty-six processes created specifically for developing, delivering and managing IT services. First developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency of the U.K. Government, ITIL is now owned by Axelos. The ITIL certification path entails five certifications with increasing levels of expertise and experience — Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate, Expert, and Master.

If you are involved in IT service management, then ITIL certification is certainly something that you should look to acquire. If you are involved with program or project management — with or without IT services — then the PMI certification path is the one to follow. In fact, the two paths are actually complementary — and many IT professionals have earned both ITIL and PMI certification.

Compensation data provider PayScale reports an average salary of $94,000 for ITIL Foundation certified professionals, whereas PMI PMP certification warrants an average salary of $104,000, with IT program managers averaging nearly $120,000.

PMI Certifications

PMI certification is a set of industry-leading credentials for project and program manager professionals. In particular, the two flagship certifications:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

In addition to the PMP and CAPM certification, the Project Management Institute offers six other certifications:

  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)®
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®

PMI certifications are rated by employers and project managers alike as some of the most valuable project management credentials in the industry.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®

The PMI PMP certification is perhaps the most sought after project management certification in the industry. The PMP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Performance Domain I: Initiating
  • Performance Domain II: Planning
  • Performance Domain III: Executing
  • Performance Domain IV: Monitoring and Controlling
  • Performance Domain V: Closing a project

Required exam: Earning the PMP certification requires passing one exam — the PMP exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PMP certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 4,500 hours of documented experience as a project manager and 35 hours of project management education to earn the PMP. An additional 3,000 hours of project management experience is required for candidates with a high school diploma or associates degree.

Certification update: PMI is planning an update of the PMP cert exam in December 2019.

Program Management Professional (PgMP)®

The Program Management Professional (PgMP) is designed for senior project management professionals who are responsible for managing one or more programs — groups of projects. PgMP candidates typically do not manage the projects themselves, but work with the individual project leaders and project teams.

The PgMP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Performance Domain I: Strategic Program Management
  • Performance Domain II: Program Life Cycle
  • Performance Domain III: Benefits Management
  • Performance Domain IV: Stakeholder Management
  • Performance Domain V: Governance

Required exam: Earning the PgMP certification requires passing a written exam and sitting for a panel review. During the application process, a panel of certified program managers assesses each candidate's professional experience as submitted on their application. The panel review process takes about four weeks to complete.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PgMP certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 6,000 hours of verified experience as a project manager plus 6,000 hours of verified program management experience to earn the PgMP. An additional 4,500 hours of project management experience is required for candidates with a high school diploma or associates degree.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®

The PMI Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) is designed for senior-level practitioners or executives who manage a portfolio of projects and programs for their organization. Portfolio managers align projects, programs and operations with strategic objectives, allocating resources to the right projects in order to deliver the expected overall return.

The PfMP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Domain 1: Strategic Alignment
  • Domain 2: Governance
  • Domain 3: Portfolio Performance
  • Domain 4: Portfolio Risk Management
  • Domain 5: Communications Management

Required exam: Earning the PfMP certification requires passing a written exam and sitting for a panel review. During the application process, a panel of certified program managers assesses each candidate's professional experience as submitted on their application. The panel review process takes about four weeks to complete.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PfMP certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 6,000 hours of verified portfolio management experience to earn the PfMP. An additional 4,500 hours of portfolio management experience is required for candidates with a high school diploma or associates degree. Additionally, all candidates must also have at least eight years of professional business experience

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

The PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is designed for professionals with little or no project experience who are interested in starting a career in project management. Due to its PMI pedigree, the CAPM certification enjoys a degree of credibility from PMP cert holders, project managers, customers and employers.

The CAPM certification validates a candidate's knowledge in thirteen performance domains:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Project Management
  • Chapter 2: Project Environment
  • Chapter 3: Role of the Project Manager
  • Chapter 4: Project Integration Management
  • Chapter 5: Project Scope Management
  • Chapter 6: Project Schedule Management
  • Chapter 7: Project Cost Management
  • Chapter 8: Project Quality Management
  • Chapter 9: Project Resource Management
  • Chapter 10: Project Communication Management
  • Chapter 11: Project Risk Management
  • Chapter 12: Project Procurement Management
  • Chapter 13: Project Stakeholder Management

Required exam: Earning the CAPM certification requires passing one exam — the CAPM exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must either meet the required work experience or training requirements to earn the CAPM certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a high school diploma or any secondary degree must have 1,500 hours of documented project management experience to earn the CAPM. Alternately, candidates must complete at least 23 hours of project management education to fulfill this requirement.

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®

The PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) is a standalone certification designed for data and business analysis professionals.

The PMI-PBA certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Domain 1: Needs Assessment
  • Domain 2: Planning
  • Domain 3: Analysis
  • Domain 4: Traceability and Monitoring
  • Domain 5: Evaluation

Required exam: Earning the PMI-PBA certification requires passing one exam — the PMI-PBA exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PMI-PBA certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 4,500 hours of proven business analysis experience to earn the PMI-PBA. An additional 3,000 hours of business analysis experience is required for candidates with only a high school diploma or associate degree. Additionally, all candidates must have 35 hours of training in business analysis.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®

The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner certification is designed for project managers that employ approaches like Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP) and test-driven development.

The PMI-ACP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Domain 1: Agile Principles and Mindset
  • Domain 2: Value-Driven Delivery
  • Domain 3: Stakeholder Engagement
  • Domain 4: Team Performance
  • Domain 5: Adaptive Planning
  • Domain 6: Problem Detection and Resolution
  • Domain 7: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)

Required exam: Earning the PMI-ACP certification requires passing one exam — the PMI-ACP exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PMI-ACP certification.

Required experience: Candidates must have 2,000 hours of documented general project management experience and an additional 1,500 hours working with agile methodologies to earn the PMI-ACP. Additionally, all candidates must have 21 hours of training in agile practices.

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®

The PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) is designed for project managers who must identify and assess project risks, mitigate threats and capitalize on opportunities. PMI research indicates that the majority of organizations that are high performers in project management also employ risk management practices.

The PMI-RMP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Domain 1: Risk Strategy and Planning
  • Domain 2: Stakeholder Engagement
  • Domain 3: Risk Process Facilitation
  • Domain 4: Risk Monitoring and Reporting
  • Domain 5: Perform Specialized Risk Analyses

Required exam: Earning the PMI-RMP certification requires passing one exam — the PMI-RMP exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PMI-RMP certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 3,000 hours of proven project risk management experience and complete 30 hours of risk management training to earn the PMI-RMP. An additional 1,500 hours of risk management experience and 40 hours of risk management training is required for candidates with only a high school diploma or associate's degree.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®

The PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) certification is designed for project managers with experience developing, managing and maintaining project schedules. PMI research indicates that even though schedules are a fundamental element of project management, half of all projects are not completed within the initially scheduled timeframe.

The PMI-SP certification validates a candidate's knowledge in five performance domains:

  • Domain 1: Schedule Strategy
  • Domain 2: Schedule Planning and Development
  • Domain 3: Schedule Monitoring and Controlling
  • Domain 4: Schedule Closeout
  • Domain 5: Stakeholder Communications Management

Required exam: Earning the PMI-SP certification requires passing one exam — the PMI-SP exam.

Prerequisites: While there are no prerequisite exam, candidates must meet the required work experience requirement to earn the PMI-SP certification.

Required experience: Candidates with a four-year degree must have 3,500 hours of proven project scheduling experience and complete 30 hours of project scheduling training to earn the PMI-RMP. An additional 1,500 hours of project scheduling experience and 40 hours of project scheduling training is required for candidates with only a high school diploma or associate's degree.

How Much Does It Cost to Get PMI Certified?

PMI certification cost varies by certification. The PMI certification exam cost for the Project Management Professional (PMP) is $555 for non-members and $405 for PMI members. PMI membership costs $129/year plus a $10 application fee. Other PMI certification exam costs for non-members vary from $300 for the CAPM, to $800 for the PgMP and PfMP.

Your total PMI certification cost will also include what you spend on the study materials and certification training courses that you take in preparation for the exam. Beyond the PMI certification exam, you'll also need to budget for the costs involved in professional development units (PDUs) needed to renew your PMI certification.

PMI Recertification and Renewal

In general, PMI certifications are valid for three years after the candidate passes the PMI certification exam. In order to maintain and renew their PMI certification, holders must earn a specified number of professional development units (PDUs) over the three-year renewal cycle. PDUs can be a mixture of required Education PDUs, or optional Giving Back PDUs where you share your knowledge or volunteer your professional services.

For renewal, the PMI certification requirements are for 30 or 60 PDUs over the three-year renewal cycle. 60 PDUs are required for the PMP, PgMP, PfMP, and PBA certifications. 30 PDUs are required for the PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, and PMI-SP certifications.

For every rule, there's an exception. In the case of PMI certification renewal, the PMI-CAPM certification is valid for five years after passing the PMI certification exam. There is no PDU requirement. In order to maintain and renew the certification, holders must simply retake the CAPM PMI certification exam every five years.

PMI Certification Suspension or Expiration

In order to renew a PMI certification — other than the CAPM — holders must register their required number of PDUs with PMI's Continuing Certification Requirements System (CCRS) and submit a renewal fee.

If the required number of PDUs is not completed, then on the three-year renewal date, the PMI certification is suspended for one year. If after one year of suspension, the professional development units are still not complete — AND/OR the renewal fee paid — then the PMI certification credential expires. At this point, the now-former holder must apply from scratch to require the certification.

PMI Certification Salary and Career Information

There is a healthy demand for professionals holding a PMI certification. PMI's Earning Power Salary Survey (Ninth Edition) reported that professionals with the PMI PMP certification were likely to command a salary 20% higher on average than those without a PMP certification. Employers are also seeing the benefits of hiring project managers with the PMI PMP cert. PMI research found that when more than a third of their project managers were PMP-certified, organizations completed more of their projects on time, on budget and meeting original goals.

So having earned your certification, what can you expect in the way of a PMI certification salary? Compensation data provider PayScale reports the following average PMI certification salary for employees holding particular PMI certifications:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): $66,000
  • Project Management Professional (PMP): $104,000
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP): $100,000
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP): $119,000
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): $108,000
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP): $116,000
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP): $101,000

Clearly, your PMI certification will be just one indicator of the value that you bring to the table. Other factors will play a big part in how much a job will pay. So for example, although the average salary for a Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) is $100,000, PayScale reports salaries up to $120,000 for a Portfolio Director and $130,000 for an IT Program Manager.

PMI Certification Training

As you begin on your PMI certification path, be sure to check on the CBT Nuggets video training classes that support PMI certification. Current courses related to PMI PMP certification are:

Our course offerings do change from time-to-time, so be sure to check CBT Nuggets for new and updated on-line PMI certification training courses that are relevant to your personal goals.

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