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Are the PMP® Requirements Tough Enough?

by Doug Boebinger, MS, PMP®

Woman hanging certificate in her office

There is a lot of discussion in the project management community about the level of qualifications necessary to become PMP® certified.  Are they tough enough?

Anytime there is an economic downturn, the number of people looking for certifications increases.  The goal is to set themselves apart from the masses looking for jobs or trying to keep their existing job.

Some believe, with the number of people getting PMP certification, that the standards are not high enough – too many people are being PMP certified, watering down the ranks of those who are already PMP.

Personally, I am thrilled with the number of people who are realizing that project management is a key part of their careers – and not just because I offer PMP Prep courses.

I don’t believe anyone disputes that project management skills can help people become more successful in their careers.  Project management is a skill set that is beneficial to master no matter what industry you are in, whether you run projects personally or participate in them.

The argument about the level of experience needed to become PMP certified seems to be around the fact that people who are not “Project Managers” are becoming certified.

Back in the mid-1990’s when I became PMP certified, not many people knew about PMP.  They mistakenly called it Project Manager Professional.  The Project Management Institute (PMI®) was quick to remind people that it is Project Management Professional – not Project Manager.  PMI® is not certifying that a person is a certified Project Manager.  They are certifying that the PMP has minimum necessary qualifications around the skills, tools, and techniques of project management.

This is a big difference.  PMI® is certifying that the person understands the minimum concepts of project management, not certifying that the person will be a successful project manager or that the projects they run will be successful.  In my opinion, this can’t be certified in any profession.  There are good and bad doctors who have passed their boards.  There are good and bad lawyers who have passed the bar. There are good and bad accountants that have passed the CPA exam.  There are good and bad project managers who have passed the PMP.

Could the bar for the minimum requirements to become PMP be raised? Yes. Would that end the discussion? No. Can any certification provide an employer with a guarantee that the person they hire will be successful? No. PMP is a minimum standard – a starting point in the evaluation of a project manager, not the ending point.

PMI and PMP are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

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