What is the PMP Exam?

PMP exam

You need to pass the PMP exam to become a Project Management Professional (PMP). The PMP certification is the most widely held certification for project managers. You can find PMPs in nearly every country and industry – there are over a million PMPs in the world today. The certification, provided by the US-based Project Management Institute, is based on project management best practices, and is not industry specific. To take the PMP certification exam (a 4-hour computer-based exam consisting of 200 multi-choice questions), you must first meet the following requirements:


What is the PMP exam cost?

The fee for the application and exam is US$555 for non-PMI members, and US$405 for members.  Since PMI membership is around $130 per year, most PMP applicants join PMI for at least one year.  (It is not necessary to be a member of PMI while you are a PMP).  This fee obviously does not include the cost of any training that you might want to take.

Where do you take the PMP Exam?

Once you have completed the application process, you will be able to schedule your PMP exam, either at a Pearson VUE testing center, or at home/work using a Pearson VUE online proctor. We are not big fans of the online option, but it can be a useful alternative if there are availability issues of any kind at the testing centers. Normally the testing centers operate 6 days a week, and the online option is available 24/7.

What is the source for PMP exam questions?

The main source of questions for the PMP exam is the Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) from PMI.  The ten knowledge areas described in the PMBOK® Guide are:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

However, questions can be drawn from “other current titles on project management”.

What is the PMP certification value?

According to PMI Project Management Salary Survey, PMP certification holders earn 20 percent more than their non-certified peers, and according to the Pulse of the Profession® study from PMI, when more than one-third of an organization’s project managers are PMP-certified, organizations complete more of their projects on time, on budget and meet original goals.

Alternatives to PMP certification

Individuals unable to meet the requirements for the PMP exam may be interested the CAPM certification, also from PMI.  Another entry-level certification is the Project+ certification from CompTIA.  For experienced project managers, the main alternative to the PMP is certification through International Project Management Association member organizations.

How do you retain your PMP certification?

Once an individual becomes certified, they must acquire 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) every three years to retain their certification.  PDU’s can be earned from a variety of sources, including formal and informal studying/learning, speaking on project management topics, volunteering etc.

First Step for passing the PMP Exam

Many companies provide PMP prep courses, but they vary greatly in terms of content, quality, and duration. If you’re interested in taking a course with Key Consulting, you can read about our in-person or live online PMP prep courses and/or contact us with your PMP-related questions.

About Kevin Archbold

Kevin Archbold, PMP, PMI-SP, has over 30 years of project management experience with large and small organizations in a variety of industries, including automotive, nuclear, telecommunications, trucking, IT, recruiting, mining, construction, and government. Kevin has presented at local and national levels within the Project Management Institute (PMI), is the winner of a local chapter PMI Project of the Year Award, and is the current president of a PMI Chapter.

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