Many organizations rely on technical certifications as a means of verifying a potential candidate’s skill set. These certifications can be found in a wide range of specialties, including database management, server technology, Web development, networking, and programming. Most certifications target a specific vendor platform or technology and require in-depth experience or advanced knowledge of the subject matter.

While technical certifications provide a valuable way of showing your knowledge as a technical candidate, how do you demonstrate your project management background? One source for project management certification is the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Founded in 1969 as a nonprofit organization focused specifically on the issues of project management, PMI has grown to be the leading professional organization in the discipline. Today, PMI boasts more than 80,000 members in 125 countries.

PMI offers a program that enables people involved in project management to earn their Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. More than 27,000 certified PMPs worldwide are providing project management services in 26 countries. To attain this certification, you must fulfill education and experience requirements, agree and adhere to a code of professional conduct, and pass a comprehensive examination.

Before you can take the PMP exam, you must have project management experience in the following five areas:

  • Initiating processes—You recognize when a process phase should begin and can launch it.
  • Planning processes—You can develop and maintain a viable plan to accomplish the project goal.
  • Executing processes—You can coordinate staff and resources to implement the plan.
  • Controlling processes—You can make sure that project objectives are met by assessing progress and making adjustments when necessary.
  • Closing processes—You can formalize acceptance of the project/phase and conclude it in an organized fashion.

In addition to meeting those qualifications, you must be able to comply with one of the two following categories:

Category 1: You hold a degree. To satisfy this category, you must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate or equivalent university degree.
  • Have a minimum of 4,500 hours of project management experience in the five process groups.
  • Have at least three years of project management experience within the past six years.

Category 2: You don’t hold a degree. To satisfy this category, you must:

  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent secondary school credential.
  • Have a minimum of 7,500 hours of project management experience in the five process groups.
  • Have at least five years of project management experience within the past eight years.

The exam
The PMP certification test is a computer-based exam consisting of 200 multiple-choice questions, taken over four hours. The questions cover a wide range of topics within the project management discipline. If you’re a PMI member, the exam costs $405; nonmembers must pay $555.

Although the PMP certification is becoming widely recognized as a mainstay for the certification of project managers, other institutions are also developing their own programs, including the Association for Project Management and the International Project Management Association.

Regardless of where the certification comes from, the recognition of project management experience is growing and will become an important part of the hiring process. Being able to show your credentials as a professional in project management can potentially move your career to an entirely new level.