So you’re looking to get your big break in project management. You like being organized, and writing reports makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Should you take the plunge and go for Project Management Professional (PMP) certification? If you’re toying with the idea, here are some questions to consider.
Will My Next Company Require It?
It can’t hurt, but it may not necessarily put you on top of the stack if there are others with more relevant project management job experience and the ability to think outside the PMBok. One position I held stressed that PMP certification was very desirable, but it turned out that 98% of the day-to-day project management work never required PMBok processes (like making earned value calculations, for instance). The projects at that company were tiny—sometimes they were finished before you had a chance to take a breath. All that I needed to be successful were organization skills, common sense, and good people skills.
At another position, the projects are much more complex (large scale e-commerce implementations for big retail clients). Did they require PMP? Absolutely not! In fact, after learning that the company had a bad experience with a couple of PMPs, I decided not to wear my certification on my sleeve for fear that I might get tagged as one of them. So, if you were being considered for a project management position there, my bet is your PMP wouldn’t work much in your favor.
How Expensive Will It Be?
If you take a training course and add in the cost of sitting for the test, just getting to the exam can cost up to $5K. Then there’s the cost of those Professional Development Units (PDU).The requirement is to earn 60 in each 3-year cycle. Some you can find cheap or free through webinars, podcasts, or low-cost training courses. But they can also be very expensive ($100 or more per PDU) if you go to a global or regional Project Management Institute (PMI) conference or take a class from a more expensive learning center. Not to say those courses wouldn’t be fascinating—just not cheap. You’ll pay for the experience or the convenience.
There are lots of ways to get PDUs. It can be economical if you plan it right, or a big wallet drain if you don’t.
What Are The Big Benefits?
For me, taking the PMP crash course and studying for the test showed me how much I didn’t know and how much information was available to help me manage projects more effectively. In some cases, it was an “oh, so that’s what that’s called” moment, and in others it was being fascinated by something and wanting to learn more.
After getting my certification, I started reading lots of books. I especially enjoyed reading Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art by Steve McConnell. I didn’t start walking around with the PMBok and reading off passages to people when I felt it was appropriate, but I did keep a whole pile of other books handy and referenced them when I wanted to share some ideas.
Also, because of the PDU requirement, I’ve filled my network with an ever-growing list of interesting people. I’ve gotten involved with my local PMI Chapter and gone to evening meetings. Initially, it was just for the PDUs, but I quickly realized that I enjoyed the speakers and the crowd. Getting connected with PMI has given me the opportunity for mentorship both virtually and in person.