The Project Notebook

PMP® Credential: The Chicken or Egg?

Fellow blogger Fadi El-Eter contacted me this morning to let me know an article on earning a PMP credential which I had on his site, PM Hut, had a question in a comment and invited me to provide an anwer. For those of you who are unaware, the Project Management Institute has been raising the bar for earning a PMP credential at regular intervals. When I took the exam in 2000, the language around qualifications was a lot looser. Although I had plenty of experience managing projects and leading teams, many were able to get by with simply doing project work.

The tighter qualifications now require managing projects and leading teams as an eligibility requirement, leading Brian P. Branagan to post the following question:

Again and again, we see that companies do not allow a candidate to manage a project without PMP certification. You emphasize that one is not eligible to take the examination without project management experience. Something must be allowed to come first. What helpful thing can you say about this?

My response:

While its true in the past, you only had to work on projects, the September 2008 PMI PMP Certification Handbook now states:

The PMP Role Delineation states that candidates for the PMP credential:

• Perform their duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of the project for the life of the project

• Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule,budget, and scope

• Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined project requirements and deliverables

The key phrase here is “under general supervision”. When I first became a Project Manager 25 years ago, my manager, himself an experienced Project Manager who moved into a management slot supervised my efforts. Such on the job training is the best route to take to gain the needed experience. Smart companies create internships and mentoring opportunities.

One way to convince your manager you are ready for such an “apprenticeship” would be to earn the CAPM – Certified Associate Project Manager first.

While its an unfortunate truth, there are also still companies which create the “knighted” Project Manager — you get a copy of the MS Project documentation (if you’re lucky!) and are told to “go forth and manage”.

Either way, you can still earn the necessary experience, even though just working on projects isn’t any longer sufficient.

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Category: PMP® Challenge Question

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP