The PMP Certification Process Overview

PDF Download: The Complete PMI PMP Certification Guide can be downloaded as a PDF file.

PMP Application Process

The PMP® Certification Process and the requirements for becoming a PMP® are quite complicated if you haven’t taken any PMI exams (like CAPM® or PMI-ACP®) before. Reading the PMP® Handbook alone will not help you much as you will still have some questions unanswered.

The PMP® Certification Process (An Infographic)

We try to create a infographic here with a view to allow PMP® aspirants to visualize and remember the route to PMP® success easier. Studies have already found that human remember and understand best with graphics rather than words.

Below is the PMP® certification process presented in an easy-to-understand infographic format. Hope you will find it useful!

The PMP® Certification Process In Details

After going through the infographic on PMP® Certification Process, you will now have a clearer mental picture of what are involved in the PMP® certification. Below is a more detailed account of the process and requirements:

A) Fulfil PMP® credential requirements:

  1. Must have enough project management experience as stipulated by PMI
    • For secondary degree holders (e.g. high school diploma, associate’s degree) : need to have at least5 years of project management experience and a minimum of 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
    • For four-year degree holders (e.g. bachelor’s degree) : need to have at least 3 years of project management experience and a minimum of 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  2. Have the required 35 Hours of Project Management Education
    • Any education on project management offered by a formal education provider taken at any time before the PMP® exam will satisfy this requirement, e.g. a course in your degree curriculum about project management with a length of more than 35 hours;
    • The course on project management is NOT required to be based on PMBOK® Guide. BUT taking a course based on PMBOK® Guide will help you also in your PMP® preparation (try to find a PMP® exam prep course provided by a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.)that is accredited by PMI, more on that later).

What is project management experience as recognized by PMI?

  • NO need to carry the job title ‘project manager‘ but must be assigned the responsibility of managing and taking care of projects.
  • The experience is about project management (as defined in the PMBOK® Guide) and not just carrying out project works managed by others.
  • Must have experience in all the lifecycle phrases of projects (i.e. 5 process groups of the project management lifecycle, including: initiating, planning, directing, monitoring & controlling and closing the project). PMI does not require you to have experiences from the 5 process groups from every project. That means you can just involve in initiating in Project A, closing in Project B and all 3 others in Project C.
  • You may consider the Certified Associate in Project Management Certification (CAPM®) offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) if you have not accumulated the required project management experience. The CAPM® is also based on the PMBOK® Guide (more on factual memorization) but there is no experience requirements.

If you are still not sure whether PMP® is for you, read here for a list of common questions Aspirants may have when considering whether they are eligible for the exam.

B) Apply for the PMP® certification online:

  1. The most convenient way to apply for the PMP® exam is through the online system at
  2. Sign up for an user account first. After which you can log in and begin filling in the PMP® application form. The information entered on the PMP® application form will be stored on PMI’s web server for up to 90 days. You will get an email reminder from PMI a few days before that period will expire and all the information be deleted.
  3. Read the article on common mistakes of PMP® Application and how you can avoid them.
  4. [Optional but highly recommended] Become a member of PMI. Though it is not required to become a paying member of PMI to take the PMP® exam, being a member allow you to enjoy discounted PMP® and other certification fee, a free downloadable copy of PMBOK® Guide and many online PMP® exam reference books. The PMI annual membership fee is US$129 plus US$10 of first time registration fee. The money you will save after becoming a member will be much more than the cost of the membership fee for the first year.
  5. After you have completed the online application form, submit it and wait for the approval to sit for the PMP® exam from PMI (in the form of an email).
  6. You can now pay for the PMP® certification fee online (US$405 for members and US$555 for non-members). Remember to pay $139 for the membership fee first if you haven’t before paying the PMP® certification fee, you will get an instant saving of US$16.
  7. [Selected randomly by PMI] If you are so fortunately to be chosen for an audit by PMI, you will get an notification email immediately after you have paid the exam fee. Act as fast as possible to send them all the required documents (e.g. academic certificates, 35 hours of project management education certificate, proof of working experience, etc.). Otherwise, you will be given an email authorizing you to schedule your PMP® exam at Prometric website.

C) Schedule, attempt and pass the PMP® exam:

  1. Though you are given a 1-year validity period during which you can schedule the PMP® exam at any time, it is advisable to schedule the PMP® Exam at Prometric website as soon as possible. This arrangement has two benefits:
    • Exam places are limited, the faster to schedule, the more likely you can schedule the exam at a date and time you prefer;
    • Having scheduled the exam will give you a tangible target for you to prepare consistently for the PMP® exam.
  2. Prepare and study well for the PMP® exam by making use of the PMBOK® Guide guide, a PMP® study guide as well as numerous PMP® practice exams.
  3. On the date of the exam, arrive at the exam centre early. Relax and enjoy the exam.
  4. You will be notified of the exam result immediately after the exam. The center staff will give you a printed proof of your exam achievement. If it is a pass, congratulations, you are immediately a PMP®! If fail the first try, make plans to retake the exam. You can have up to 2 more chances to take the PMP® exam within the 1-year validity period (though you must pay the re-exam fee separately).

D) Obtain PMP® PDU for re-certification

  1. The PMP® certificate will be mailed to you within 6-8 weeks.
  2. The first benefit of becoming a PMP® is that you can request a PMP® lapel pin free of charge (details will be emailed to you several days after you have passed).
  3. If you pass the PMP® exam, you are immediately a PMP® and your 3-year PDU re-certification cycle begins. Collect at least 60 PDUs per 3-year cycle to allow you to renew your PMP® credential.
  4. You can make use of PMI’s online system to report PDUs to PMI. When you have accumulated enough PDUs, PMI will send you a renewal notice. The renewal fee is US$60 for members and US$150 for non-members.

What’s Next?

If you fulfil the PMP® requirements and are eligible for the PMP® exam, you should next try to understand how much time, money and efforts are needed to get your PMP® title. This is the second most pressing question any PMP® aspirants would ask. 


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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6 Responses

  1. CM says:

    Your articles are good and very informative. I’ve my own business and main concentration was on desktop apps and embedded system. Being owner of the business, I mainly managed projects but no formal tool was used and I followed simplified process. I am post graduate and running my business for 17 years. I am now looking for some other opportunities and need PMI certification. Appreciate if you can guide on qualifications I need.

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi CM,

      There is no formal requirement for the complexity nor the tools required to run the projects. All you need to demonstrate is that you have accumulated enough working experience in project management. And you may ask your staff to verify that you have got the experience.

      You may or may not need the 35 contact hours depending on in which area your post graduate degree is it. But is doesn’t hurt to take a course that gives you both the 35 contact hour cert as well as preparation/tips for the PMP Exam.

      Wish you PMP success!

  2. Vi says:

    Dear Edmund,

    Your articles are really helpful to me!
    I would want to know if it is workable if I finish the PMP course in early Oct 2017, and schedule the exam in this December? There will be 2 months for studying and preparing for the exam, as you mentioned, a preparation of ” 2 hours per day for 2 months constantly ” would make it possible.
    Hope for your advises.

    • Vi says:

      Hi Edward, Sorry for the salutation typo, Edmund is one PM that always works with me 🙂

      • Edward Chung says:

        Hi Vi,

        Sure, there is still enough time to get PMP certified (my suggestion of 2 hours per day for 2 months actually includes the time for the PMP course, so you are way ahead if you can finish the course by Oct 2017). And it is a wise choice to get certified in 2017 as the changes to the PMP Exam in 2018 is still unknown (it is all about risk management).

        Wish you PMP success!

      • Vi says:

        Many thanks to your kindly and quick advice !

July 8, 2014