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PMI certifications: What these IT certs could mean for your salary and PM career

Before deciding whether to strive for any or all of the Project Management Institute's certifications, you should know how the certs could impact your career and income.

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The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers eight certifications, each with their own benefits and requirements. Find out what the requirements are to get and maintain these project management certifications, and how the certs might boost your PM career and income potential.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP is often referred to as the gold standard, and is the most globally recognized certification in project management.

PMI says "more than one-third of their project managers are PMP-certified," and recommends this certification for more experienced project managers who handle all aspects of project delivery, leading and directing cross-functional teams.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • A minimum of 35 hours of project management education

or

  • A four-year degree
  • A minimum of 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • A minimum of 35 hours of project management education

Cost: The PMP certification's fee is US $405.00 for PMI members and US $555.00 for non-members.

Program Management Professional (PgMP)

The PgMP is recommended for senior-level project professionals with a proven ability to manage multiple complex related projects that overlap functions, organizations, regions, or cultures aimed at aligning results with organizational goals.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 6,000 hours of project management experience
  • A minimum of 10,500 hours of program management experience

or

  • A four-year degree
  • A minimum of 6,000 hours of project management experience
  • A minimum of 6,000 hours of program management experience

Cost: The PgMP certification's fee is US $800.00 for PMI members and US $1,000.00 for non-members.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

The PfMP is for the executive or senior-level practitioner who is managing a portfolio of projects and programs aimed at organizational strategic alignment.

The prerequisites are:

  • A minimum of eight years of professional business experience and have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 10,500 hours of portfolio management experience

or

  • A four-year degree (a bachelor's degree or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 6,000 hours of portfolio management experience

Cost: The PfMP certification's fee is US $800.00 for PMI members and US $1,000.00 for non-members.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

The PMI-ACP is for project professionals who work on agile teams. This certification demonstrates real-world, hands-on experience and skill.

The prerequisites are:

  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. A current PMP or PgMP will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP.
  • A minimum of 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies (in addition to the 2,000 hours of general project experience)
  • A minimum of 21 contact hours of training in agile practices

Cost: The PMI-ACP certification's fee is US $435.00 for PMI members and US $495.00 for non-members.

SEE: Agile project management: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)

The PMI-PBA is for project leaders who work with project teams and manage requirements or product development, or for a project or program manager who performs business analysis in their role.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree or
  • A minimum of 7,500 hours of business analysis experience
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours working on project teams*
  • A minimum of 35 contact hours of education in business analysis

or

  • A bachelor's degree or the global equivalent
  • A minimum of 4,500 hours of business analysis experience
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours working on project teams*
  • A minimum of 35 contact hours of education in business analysis

* Project experience can include your business analysis experience. A current PMP or PgMP will satisfy this requirement but is not required for the PMI-PBA.

Cost: The PMI-PBA certification's fee is US $435.00 for PMI members and US $495.00 for non-members.

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

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The PMI-RMP was designed for project professionals who have advanced knowledge and experience in risk management, or a project manager focused on project risk management, including for large projects and/or complex environments.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 4,500 hours of project risk management experience
  • A minimum of 40 hours of project risk management education

or

  • A four-year degree (bachelor's degree or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 3,000 hours of project risk management experience
  • A minimum of 30 hours of project risk management education

Cost: The PMI-RMP certification's fee is US $520.00 for PMI members and US $670.00 for non-members.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

The PMI-SP is for project professionals who have an advanced knowledge and experience developing, managing, and maintaining project schedules and are interested in showcasing their skills.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree
  • A minimum of 5,000 hours of project scheduling experience
  • A minimum of 40 hours of project scheduling education

or

  • A four-year degree
  • A minimum of 3,500 hours of project scheduling experience
  • A minimum of 30 hours of project scheduling education

Cost: The PMI-SP certification's fee is US $520.00 for PMI members and US $670.00 for non-members.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM is for project professionals who like to manage larger projects and gain more responsibility or add project management skills into their current role.

The prerequisites are:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree, or the global equivalent)
  • A minimum of 1,500 hours of project experience

or

  • A minimum of 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam

Cost: The CAPM certification's fee is US $225.00 for PMI members and US $300.00 for non-members.

What does all this mean for your career and earning potential?

PMI has put out its ninth edition salary survey covering salary data from 26,000 project management professionals in 34 countries. Key findings show US project manager salaries in 2015 ranged from $90,000 (25th percentile) to $130,000 (75th percentile) overall, with a median salary of $108,200. Total compensation ranged from $93,940 (25th percentile) to $143,000 (75th percentile) with the median of $116,000. Here are additional findings by position, certification status, years of PM experience, and techniques.

Median US annual salaries by position

Position Median Salary
Director of PM/PMO $135,000
Portfolio Manager $128,000
Program Manager $120,000
Project Manager III $105,000
Project Manager II $95,000
Project Manager I $87,000
Project Management Specialist $85,000
Project Management Consultant $110,000


Median US annual salaries by PMP certification status

Certification Status Median Salary
PMP $111,000
Have a PMP for less than one year $95,000
Certified between 1 -5 years $104,000
Certified for 5-<10 years $120,000
Certified for 10-< 20 years $124,000
Certified PMP over 20 years $133,000
Non-certified Project Manager $91,000


Median US annual salaries by years working in project management

Years of PM Experience Median Salary
< 3 years $74,900
3-<5 years $85,000
5-<10 years $100,000
10-<15 years $112,200
15-<20 years $120,000
Over 20 years $125,000


Median US annual salaries by technique experience

Technique Years of Experience Median Salary
Agile/Interactive/Incremental PM/Scrum None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$103,000

$109,000

$120,000

Extreme PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$106,000

$109,377

$120,000

Process-based PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$107,000

$100,000

$115,550

Event Chain PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$107,070

$105,000

$120,000

Project Portfolio Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$96,788

$108,000

$125,000

Program Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$93,502

$103,000

$122,000

Earned Value Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$101,000

$107,000

$122,500

Lean PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$105,000

$108,000

$120,000

Critical Chain PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$107,000

$104,000

$118,000

Waterfall PM None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$100,000

$100,000

$116,400

Risk Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$92,750

$100,000

$120,000

Change Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$95,000

$100,000

$116,500

Resource Management None

1 to 5 years

6 years or more

$96,000

$97,500

$119,000

Maintaining PMI credentials

Holding PMI credentials and maintaining professional status requires gaining ongoing professional development units (PDUs) to ensure project professional skills and knowledge are current. There are also annual professional dues that are required, along with strict reporting requirements for PDUs based on specific reporting cycles.

For more details, visit PMI certification maintenance.

Conclusion

Project management certifications can provide professionals with a boost to their career paths as well as income potential. To see the full PMI survey and findings (including salary breakdowns by country) go to the PMI site and download the Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition.

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About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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