The PMP Certification Process Overview

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 an infographic here with a view to allowing 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 is 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 Authorized Training Partner (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 phases 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 experience with 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 are 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 a 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 fees, 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 by 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 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 fortunate to be chosen for an audit by PMI, you will get a 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, unfortunately, you 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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23 Responses

  1. Kaushalyah says:

    Hi Edward, Good day, thank you for all your amazing blog posts, I find them very helpful for my PMP journey. I wanted to ask you, do the 4500 hours (36 months) need to be consecutive? There might be a one or 2 year gap in my work experience but I am able to fulfill the 4500 hours for leading and directing a project over a period of years. Also do the project experience need to be within the last 8 consecutive years?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Sure, it is not required to have consecutive experience. You just need to have 36 months of experience in the last 8 consecutive years before your PMP application.

      Wish you PMP success!

  2. Suzie Wong says:

    Hi Edward, I have a 3 year bachelor’s degree instead of 4 year degree but I meet all the other requirements of PMI for a PMP certificate Can I proceed to apply for the certificate?

  3. Grace Chow says:

    Hi Edward

    I am plan to submit my PMP application soon and was wondering if you could take at look and provide feedback of the project descriptions?

    Thank you,


  4. Jay says:

    Good afternoon Edward,

    Very helpful site with lots of details. A good of way of paying back. I am applying for the PMP. Can you please review my work experience and advise if they are as per PMI standard ? What is the e-mail address that I can send to you ?


  5. Jay says:

    Hello Edward,

    I really admire not only the details in your site but also how meticulous you are in correlating your struggle period while depicting a correct scenarios that most PMP aspirants actually go through. What a payback!
    I have formal education on PM modules and worked years together as PM but never cared for a PMP designation. Now preparing. Before I submit my application, wanted to run the project management experience on my application by an expert like you. Will you be kind enough to review and suggest your expert comment to avoid application audit ? Can you please share your e-mail ?


  6. Gustavo Flores says:

    Good Morning Edward:

    My name is Gustavo Flores.

    During many years ago i was working like sales manager, but now i have to work like Project manager in an Enterprise that privides cell calls services and i was study administration.

    my question is: I could be a Project Manager if i study this PM course????

    • Edward Chung says:

      Sure, you can learn the skills and knowledge to become a good project manager by studying. However, it is up to the companies/organization to whether recognize your knowledge or experience.

      Anyway, wish you best of luck!

  7. Mo says:

    Hi Edward – Great resource you have put together here, a lot of superb information! I have a question, based on the infographic you have provided it appears that I could not write the PMP exam unless I’ve accumulated the required work experience (in my case 5+ years of work experience combines with 7,500+ hours of project experience). However for so many PM opportunities, you need to be PMP certified…

    Would the “solution” be to take the CAPM exam instead?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Thanks Mo for your comments. Yes, the PMP Exam is indeed a symbol of achievement rather than helping one to get into the profession of project management. That being said, the experience in project management needs not be accumulated being a project manager (i.e. you can be a project coordinator to earn the experience). Frankly, I would not recommend the CAPM exam but that all depends on your need (i.e. if your employer requires it, you better get it). If I were you, I would wait until I have accumulated enough experience to get PMP certified. Hope this helps clear your doubts. Wish you PMP success!

  8. Swapnil says:

    Hi Edward, Many thanks for this fantastic site. It was really very helpful for me.
    Since, I failed in my first attempt of PMP, I think, I am in better position to share the learnings 🙂
    Common mistakes done:
    1) Overconfidence: yes, and I bet many don’t realize this while preparing that they are overconfident. Perhaps, after failing, people understand it, so a caution. Don’t take it lightly. For me, I have cleared many certifications in the first attempt so I was under the impression, what so big deal with PMP, but I was wrong. I was even comforting myself that so many other folks (read idiot folks) in my organization have done it, so I should be able to crack it easily, but I was wrong. Everyone has his own journey and they deserve the success of their hard work too. So, don’t be under the impression that you’ll be able to crack it easily. PMI doesn’t take you lightly, they’re a bunch of serious folks.

    2) Mistake: No extra penny spent in mock exams kit (like simplilearn, prepcast etc).
    Like many others, I didn’t want to spend a single extra buck on this exam other than my application fees. After all, I have NOT done it for my many of my earlier certifications. I again comforted myself that there are many online free exams, let me take them and I should be good. But, the biggest mistake is, these online exams do NOT tell you why you are wrong. They don’t tell you why your right choice is really right. Basically, you don’t retrospect. I had answered almost all the free questions available online but never bothered to understand why I was wrong. I just used to shrug my shoulders and murmur, “hmm, maybe I was wrong”. Trying to find out why you are wrong and why the right one is right, is VERY VERY important. Pay attention to that. Before my second attempt, I used prepcast and it gave me an insight on where I was wrong and most importantly – WHY.

    3) Mistake: When it comes to an exam, I can put myself together for 4 hours.I don’t need a MOCK exam at home.
    Take it again. Many of aspirants here are working professionals with family, kids and many other responsibilities. Gone are our graduate, college days when we used to sit around for an exam for 3 or 4 hours. We are NO longer habitual to it. Again, don’t take it lightly. Many online mock exam kits make you sit for 4 hours. Time management on this exam for 4 hours is also a key. If you don’t get a question, jumping to next one is important. You’ve to take that decision in that moment and these MOCK exams prepare you for that. I remember, I spent a lot of time on many questions in my 1st attempt. These MOCK exams, prepare your brain for 4 hours and enforces you to learn the time management of 4 hours. No MOCK exam contains the actual questions getting asked in the PMP, so do NOT buy it under the impression that you’ve bought the PMI-PMP question bank.

    I cleared this exam on 19 Jun 2018 with 3 ATs, 1T and 1 BT. My 1st attempt was exact 20 days back with 2 ATs, 2 NIs and 1 BT.

    Fellow aspirants: Feel free to get in touch with me if you have need any other info.

    With you all the best for PMP success. It is a journy and it is tough but NOT impossible.

  9. Vivek Gupta says:

    Hello Edward,

    First of all Many Thanks to you that because of your wonderful notes and pointing in right direction of choosing PMP simulator from I passed my PMP exam yesterday 8/28 with flying colors with following rating:

    Initiation – Proficient
    Planning – Proficient
    Executing – Proficient
    Monitoring and Controlling – Proficient
    Closing – Moderately Proficient

    I still Thank my stars that I came across this site while doing google -> 2-3 months back when I was searching for solid plan to pass PMP in first attempt. First of all the inspiring stories were really helpful and while reading them I thought if he/she can do it with so many challenges then I can too. Also the language which you have used which is easy to understand and “to the point” not the big jargons used in other websites. To give a brief overview of my PMP journey it start 6.5 years back (you read it right its really that long). I completed training and then thought to take the exam after few months – then got placed overseas for a while and got promoted and got much into new projects in my Organization then became father and before I know it, its BOOM! 6 years (more or less). My wife was always motivating me to take the exam for last 4-5 years and this time she really pushed hard so I started studying back in February 2017. I went through Headfirst just for starters as I am more of a visual person and completed this book in 2.5 months. I was loosing pace in between but then I have set the target of July so paced myself to get back on schedule. Then started with Rita (8th Edition) and completed the questions in the back of each chapter. I would suggest going through Rita for atleast 3 times cover to cover not in same flow but once u finish Rita Mulchahy first time – in second go try different chapters in which you are strong first and start taking the questions at the end of each chapter. Then start taking mock exams from Prepcast and take them seriously as with couple of years into job you loose track and concentration of sitting in exam for straight 4 hours. Now go through PMBOK but dont waste too much time in ITTO (biggest mistake which I did of going through the ITTO’s, Please note PMI is checking your thorough knowledge and how to apply it about PM knowledge areas and not your memory about how much you can remember) and read it properly instead of skimming through. I really mean read between the lines and most of the questions come from concepts instead of direct ones (more details in next paragraph). Read Rita once again and 2 weeks into final PMP exam go through the Prepcast exams (4-5).

    I just realized while typing this comment that I got exactly the same rating as my online mentor – Edward so feeling prouder :-). Details about the PMP exam – its really a bouncer (term used in game of cricket for those not aware of this game take this term as shocker). I think there were around 85% indirect question 5% direct definitions type questions and 10% on ITTO (that too indirect and not like what is the T&T for determine budget) and ethics and compliance. There were way too many questions from processes, integration, quality management. Prepcast mock exams wont help you much if you are thinking you would get lucky and get couple of questions from Prepcast. These mock tests will prepare you about what you can expect and how to deal with your brain during 4 hours. Even I feel the difficulty level of real exam was a bit on the tougher side as compared to prepcast mocks. Biggest tip I can share from my experience during yesterday exam is that dont waste too much time if you get stuck on one question (most of the questions were 2-3 lines top) and after reading through multiple times you are unable to tick the final choice. Mark it and continue to next question. Time yourself during mock tests to complete the exam in 3:30 hours so that next 30 minutes you can concentrate on marked questions. You wont imagine that after I completed my 200th question with 26 minutes remaining in my second run I have changed almost 70% of my responses of around 25 marked questions. Few of them were really stupid mistakes which got skipped in first run. Trust me this really helped in aceing the exam.

    During the preparation I scored average marks in all 9 prepcast mock tests around 73% to 81%. First mock test was an eye openor as I scored 60.5% and worked on areas I scored least. So, on closing note I can say if I can do it you can too. Just dont loose focus – and learn from the best practices of others and earn the prestigious PMP title. I would like to Thank my Wife, Son and my Mom for the perseverance and for the encouragement which made this possible. Best of luck to all the PMP aspirants and hoping my PMP journey would help others in passing this exam.

    Vivek Gupta, PMP

  10. 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!

  11. 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 !