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Project management certifications from PMI: The smart person's guide

Here's what you need to know about the eight project management certifications offered by the Project Management Institute.

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A smart way to prove your proficiency in project management is by getting a certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). This overview of each of PMI's eight certifications will help you determine which cert or certs might be ideal for your career path. We'll update this guide as new information is available about PMI certifications.

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Executive summary

    • What are PMI certifications? Eight project management credentials that are designed by, and offered exclusively through, the PMI.
      - Project Management Professional (PMP)
      - Program Management Professional (PgMP)
      - Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
      - Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
      - PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)
      - PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
      - PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
      - PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
    • Why do PMI certifications matter? PMI certifications are considered the gold standard by organizations and leaders around the globe in career advancement and the delivery of advocacy, collaboration, education, and research.
    • Who do PMI certifications affect? PMI credentials offer significant value to students, business professionals, leaders, existing PMPs seeking additional credentials, project teams, and stakeholders.
    • When are PMI certifications available? Since 1969, PMI has offered many students and employees a way to advance their career.
    • How can I earn a PMI certification? Visit PMI.org and click on certifications to find out more about each of the eight certifications, the certification process, and how to maintain each certification through continuing professional development.

    SEE: Job description: IT project manager (Tech Pro Research)

      What are PMI certifications?

      The PMI offers eight project management certifications. Here are specifics about each certification's requirements and costs, as well as information about how the certs might boost your PM career and income potential.

        Project Management Professional (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 fee is US $405.00 for PMI members and US $555.00 for non-members.

          Program Management Professional (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 fee is US $800.00 for PMI members and US $1,000.00 for non-members.

            Portfolio Management Professional (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 fee is US $800.00 for PMI members and US $1,000.00 for non-members.

              Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is for project professionals who like to manage larger projects and gain more responsibility or add project management skills to 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 fee is US $225.00 for PMI members and US $300.00 for non-members.

                PMI Professional in Business Analysis (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 fee is US $405.00 for PMI members and US $555.00 for non-members.

                  PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (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 fee is US $435.00 for PMI members and US $495.00 for non-members.

                    PMI Risk Management Professional (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 fee is US $520.00 for PMI members and US $670.00 for non-members.

                      PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) is for project professionals who have 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 fee is US $520.00 for PMI members and US $670.00 for non-members.

                      Additional resources:

                      Why PMI certifications matter

                      On December 14, 2016, US President Barack Obama signed into law S.1550, the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA) to enhance accountability and best practices in project and program management throughout the federal government. This move signifies the importance of project professionals at all levels and the ongoing need for standardization, accountability, and ethics in the PM field.

                      Further, the project management profession is anticipated to grow by US$6.61 trillion by 2020, adding 15.7 million new PM roles, and PM certifications can provide professionals with the necessary skills to meet the growing demand.

                      SEE: The 10 best tech jobs that pay the highest salaries (TechRepublic)

                      PMI certifications are considered the gold standard in IT certifications by organizations and leaders around the globe in career advancement and the delivery of advocacy, collaboration, education, and research. With approximately 650,000 PM practitioners worldwide, the PMI notes that: "PMI certification holders show that employers recognize the value delivered by trained practitioners."

                      PMI certified professionals follow the PMBOK Guide and Standards and demonstrate:

                      • Adherence to globally recognized standards, developed by PMI volunteers experienced in every type of project, and the use of a globally recognized language for project management around the world.
                      • "Responsibility, respect, fairness and honesty," as core values of the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
                      • They can deliver value and improve organizational success and further elevate the profession.
                      • Advocacy for project management that's reinforced by globally recognized standards, the certification program, and extensive academic and market research programs, chapters, and volunteer and professional development opportunities.

                      Additional resources:

                      Who PMI certifications affect

                      PMI certifications benefit students, all members of a project team, executives, sponsors, vendors, and project professionals. The largest benefit is an increase in stakeholder confidence, as a result of the ethical and professional conduct, technical skills, and leadership of a certified project professional who is capable of increasing success ratios in projects.

                      For those interested in advancing their careers and earning potential, in 2015 PMI has put out its ninth edition salary survey, which covers 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.

                      Additional resources:

                      When PMI certifications are available

                      PMI has been around since 1969; its certifications offer many students and employees a way to advance their career, improve organizational success, and increase ethical standards. The project management industry continues to see record growth, which is expected to accelerate well into the future. In fact, the project management profession is anticipated to grow by US$6.61 trillion by 2020, adding 15.7 million new PM roles, according to a talent gap report by PMI.

                      Additional resources:

                      How to earn PMI certifications

                      Visit PMI.org and click on certifications to find out more about each of the eight certifications, the certification process, and how to maintain each certification through continuing professional development. PMI also offers members and non-members access to the following resources through its site.

                      Additional resources:

                      Other project management certifications to check out

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