If you’ve decided to pursue the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, you might be looking for assistance in covering the exam and training fees. The fees include:

  • PMP Exam Testing Fee for Non-PMI Members: $555 (USD)
  • PMP Exam Testing Fee for PMI Members: $405 (USD)
  • PMI Annual Membership: $139 (USD)
  • Course Preparation Materials: $179 – $2,600 (USD)

Assuming you’ll purchase the PMI annual membership since it will reduce your testing fee, your total PMI exam and membership
costs are $544; this does not
include training. Let’s assume you want to take a four-day
instructor-led training course to help you prepare, and the course fee is
approximately $2,600. This brings
the total cost to prepare and pass the PMP exam to $3,144. Yikes! That’s quite a lot of money to cover from your personal finances.

I recommend that you ask your employer to pay for these
costs, as the PMP certification will help your professional development. If your organization sponsors PMP
certification, then you should be all set to sign up for the training and the
exam. However, many organizations
don’t have an official company sponsored certification program. If you’re in this situation,
don’t fret — follow my five-step plan to get your company to pay for your PMP
exam and course fees.

1: Adopt a business
case mindset

The way to tap into your employer’s coffers is to develop a
compelling one-page business proposal. 
Similar to the projects you manage on a day-to-day basis, funding your
PMP exam will require an understanding of costs, benefits, and how you will
demonstrate a return on investment. Your employer won’t invest over $3,000 in your attempt to improve your
marketability without understanding how the organization will benefit from
their investment.

2: Develop a one-page proposal

The proposal should include a one-sentence
summary, a list of benefits, a list of costs, and a return on investment
section. A sample summary might read:

Goal: Provide company sponsorship for Andrew
Makar to earn the PMP Certification

3: Identify the benefits

In the Benefits section, list a few bullets instead of lengthy
paragraphs; this allows your
direct manager or a senior executive to quickly scan the bullet points and understand the
organization’s benefit to funding your PMP exam. For instance, benefits might include:

  • Increases
    organization’s expertise and domain knowledge in project management standards,
    processes, and formal techniques
  • Improves
    organization’s project management maturity
  • Establishes an
    in-house resource for project management best practices and processes
  • Improves
    employee’s development and educational goals

4: Identify the costs

In the Costs section, you want to provide two options so the
sponsor can determine the best option given their training budget. For example:

  • Option 1: $2,140 for a four-day preparation course and PMI testing fees
  • Option 2: $755 for an online self-study course and PMI testing fees

If you only list one option, you’re more likely to get a “No,” but by listing two options, you’re providing some flexibility. When you review the proposal, you can talk about the two options and discuss which one makes the most sense.

Larger companies often provide training opportunities for their
employees, and some even mandate at least 40 hours of training per year — this
will be the key to getting your PMP exam covered. The corporate training budget is your opportunity to apply
these funds to your PMP class instead of your mandated training.

Note: If appropriate, remember to include travel fees in your costs.

5: Provide the Return on Investment

The goal of the Return on Investment section is to outline how you’ll give back to the organization and use the knowledge gained in a quantitative or qualitative manner. A company doesn’t want to invest in an employee only to have that person gain a certification and start looking for a new job. HR and your management want to know how you’ll apply the knowledge given the training investment. Here’s sample language of what you might include in your Return on Investment section.

Using the knowledge from
the PMP training, I will:

  • Facilitate a PMP
    Training Study Group for three months during which I help other employees prepare for their PMP exams
  • Facilitate Lessons Learned with Microsoft Project training sessions for all the project
    managers in the company

Most in-house corporate
workshops costs at least $300 per person for a half day session. Using the cost of a typical PMI chapter
dinner meeting at $25 per person, a three-month peer study group with 10 people
recoups the cost of the PMP certification training.

Does this approach work?

Before simply emailing your boss and asking if she’ll let you charge $3,000 to the corporate credit
card for your PMP exam and training, I encourage you to try to this approach. I followed this format twice to gain funding for my doctorate program from two different
employers and was successful both times. The key is to make a
professional presentation and ensure it is a no-brainer decision.