How Much Time, Effort and Money is Required for the PMP Credential?

pmp certification input money and time

Earning the PMP Certification may cost you a lot of money, time and efforts. It is imperative to estimate whether your budget and study time allows you to take on PMP as your next professional achievement.

This article gives will you some ballpark figures on the money, time and efforts required for writing the PMP exam and maintaining the PMP Certification to help you estimate resource availability.

Just as the projects we manage every day, a good planning is half success. With the information on PMP Exam presented here, it is hoped that Aspirants will be able to lay out a plan that is most suitable for their success.

PMP Time and Study Effort Inputs

It is often said that the PMP exam is very hard and it requires a lot of preparation (and that’s why the PMP Certification is such a valuable professional recognition).

But as someone who has never prepared for the PMP Exam before, how can one know how much time is needed to be fully prepared? Actually, the actual length of study required usually cannot be determined until you are halfway in the study (that’s my very own experience).

Luckily, a recent survey of 100 PMP who successfully passed the PMP exam gives us some hints on the amount of time required.

The survey asked 100 PMP who have recently passed the PMP Exam. It shows that Aspirants may need as short as a week of study or as long as over 6 months of preparation to pass the PMP exam. The average time required is around 2 months with 3 hours of studies every day (you may refer to the survey for more detailed discussion).

The average Aspirants need around 180 hours of studies for successfully pursuing the PMP Certification. 

Is 180 hours an extremely long duration that is not easy to afford? Let’s do the maths:

  • Suppose you can devote 8 hours per day for your preparation, you can finish it in around 23 days (less than 1 month).
  • Suppose you can devote 4 hours per day, you can finish the preparation in 45 days (less than 2 months).

But please understand that the amount of time to be required for the PMP Exam really depends on the capability and style of study of individual Aspirants. The average figure here is just a reference only. You will need to consider your past exam preparation time required in order to arrive at a more accurate estimate.

I passed the PMP Exam with 4 Proficient and 1 Moderately Proficient, check out here for my study notes, tips and resources for free.

Money Input – PMP Certification Cost

The minimal payable items required for the PMP certification exam for most Aspirants are listed below:

  1. Becoming a PMI member (US$139) — you will get saving for the PMP Exam Fee plus a free download of the PMBOK® Guide (which is often considered as the textbook for the PMP Exam)
  2. The PMP Certification Exam Fee (US$405) — this is for PMI members only, non-members will need to pay US$555
  3. 35 Hours Project Management Education (depending on courses) – It is advisable to take one even if you have previous project management education as exam prep courses will help you to prepare and pass the PMP exam
  4. PMP Exam Simulator (cost depends) — that’s the mock exams to be tackled before the real PMP Exam to understand if you are ready for writing the real one (there are some available for free)
  5. PMP Exam Prep Study Guide (~US$100) — the textbook for your revision

By adding up the above items, the minimum PMP Certification cost would be around US$1000.

Detailed discussion of the cost involved in getting PMP Certified and cost saving tips can be found here.

You may optionally want to study in a classroom environment with an instructor (that’s around US$1000, no to mention the travel cost and days off).

Also depending on your exam centre location, some Aspirants may need to fly to the city where the exam centre is one night before the exam and live in a hotel nearby.

These extra costs vary a lot from person to person and therefore is not taken into consideration in our simple calculation. But you should take note if that applies to you.

PMP Re-certification Inputs

Passing the PMP exam and getting the PMP certificate is not the end of your PMP Certification journey. The PMP Certificate is only valid for 3 years from the date of passing the PMP Exam. Costs are involved in maintaining the PMP Certification throughout your life if you intend to keep the Certification status.

PMI requires every PMP to obtain at least 60 PDUs in each 3-year re-certification cycle (1 PDU is equivalent to 1 hour of project management education/service). You will need to spare at least 60 hours of your time every 3 years to collect, record and report the PDU you have gained during the re-certification cycle (luckily, this is not a large amount of time compared to the 180 hours or more for your PMP Exam preparation).

Also, some PDUs may cost you money but yet there are numerous ways to obtain PDUs for FREE:

  • Being a member of PMI, for example, you get you enough free PDU every 3 years (essentially this is NOT free as you will have to pass the membership fee US$129 X 3 for each 3-year cycle, i.e. US$ 387).

Of course, if you would rather attend courses that are more tailored to your professional or personal needs, the course fees will have to be taken into account for the re-certification cost.

After you have successfully collected the required PDUs, you will have to pay a PMP Re-certification fee (or called PMP renewal fee):

  • US$60 for PMI members (this again shows that it does make sense to maintain your PMI membership with annual membership fee of US$129 for the savings on PMP renewal fee as well as the free PDUs provided)
  • US$150 for non-PMI members

What’s Next?

If PMP is your next professional target and you are able to set aside the money (around US$1000) and time (around 180 hours) to prepare for the PMP exam, it is time to actually begin the PMP journey – to understand in depth how to get 35 contact hours for project management education and select a PMP training suitable for you.



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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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2 Responses

  1. Thane Gysel says:

    Would you PLEASE update your 2020 PMP certification guide with 2020 information and current texts and information.
    You still show 2018 information and old texts. You also NEED to talk about the test change starting 1 July, 2020. This effects everyone studying now… who must pass the test by 30 June… or prepare for a different exam.

    Thank you