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Project manager discussing PMP certification

Does PMP Certification Improve your Salary?

Earning the PMP certification is expensive, time consuming and a big commitment. Is it worth it? 

Experts say absolutely! Even though there is a lot of work that goes into becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP), the return on investment is definitely worth the PMP test cost and time commitment. 

What is a PMP certification and who can get it?

Let's start with the basics. What is a PMP certification?

The PMP accreditation, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is a certification designed for project managers. Now recognized in nearly every sector, the PMP accreditation has become a benchmark for project management excellence. 

These days project managers are found in every kind of organization: finance, insurance, travel, healthcare, IT etc.

Their main responsibility is to handle projects inside the company and ensure that all tasks are carried out correctly and on time. This includes keeping track of the people working on the project, ensuring deadlines are met, making sure the budget is controlled, and more.

Needless to say, it is not a simple job. So, if you could make more money doing the exact same job by taking a test, why wouldn’t you?

Does a PMP certificate improve your salary?

There are many rumors floating around that having a PMP certificate means a big salary increase. Are the rumors true? To be blunt, yes.

There are many benefits to becoming PMP certified and a higher salary is certainly one of them. According to smartsheet's 2018 Comparison of PMP Salary Sources and Surveys,  PMP certified project managers in the United States earn a 22% higher salary than uncertified project managers

According to smartsheet, if you work as a project manager in the financial and insurance industries and are a PMP, you can expect to make between $114,000 and $144,000 – this being a 20-22% increase over non-PMP project manager salaries.

Salary growth however can vary depending on the industry and current position that you are in. According to Knowledgehut, the job titles with the most to gain from becoming PMP certified are: IT Project Manager, IT Senior Project Manager, Software Development Manager, Program Manager, and Engineering Operations Manager.

Why do PMP certified project managers earn more?

The concept behind PMP is that even though you are doing the same work, after becoming certified you are able to do it with a lot more competence and consistency. It basically validates your project management skill set.

The five phases of project management include:

  • Project Initiation: The project manager is responsible for preparing all work before the start of a project and leads the initiation.
  • Planning: The project manager plans the entire life-cycle of the project and finds fitting resources such as supplies, workforce etc.
  • Executing: The project manager guides the team through completing tasks and reaching goals.
  • Monitoring: The project manager makes sure that project deliverables stay on track and handles all possible changes.
  • Closing: The project manager ensures that the project is completed and wraps up any final details.

The PMP certificate ensures that you know what you are doing through the 5 phases and prepares project managers to execute them in any organization and in any industry.

According to Tim Wasserman, Program Director of Sandford’s Advanced Project Management Program, highly regulated industries especially “value the PMP certification because it shows an ability to adhere to strictly defined processes – a valuable skill when overseeing extremely sensitive and regulated projects.”

Although you do not have to be PMP certified to work as a project manager, having the accreditation shows employers that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to complete projects to a certain standard.

How to get a PMP certification

In order to become a Project Management Professional, you have to pass the PMP exam. Sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – hence the pay raise that comes with it.  

According to PMI, those that are eligible to apply for the PMP are experienced project managers who are responsible for all aspects of project delivery, leading and directing cross-function teams.

Depending on if you have a secondary degree or a four-year degree, eligible candidates must either have 4,500 hours or 7,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects, along with 35 hours of project management education.

After project managers meet these qualifications, they are allowed to take the exam. The PMP exam costs $404.00 for PMI members and $555.00 for non-members.

As explained in the beginning, this is not a cheap or easy certification to obtain, but if you weigh the costs against the benefits, the benefits always come out on top.

Is PMP worth it?

Project management is no longer considered to be just a profession, it is a strategic competence that is key to the success of a business. Due to the increase in company-run projects, the demand for competent and skilled project managers is continuing to grow worldwide.

With over 790,000 project managers being PMP accredited globally, becoming certified is no longer a suggestion - it's a necessity. Those that are not certified will find themselves at a great disadvantage when it comes to job opportunities, career advancement and salary growth. 

Labeled as "the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers" by the Project Management Institute, a PMP certification is the top way to differentiate yourself from others and grow faster as a project manager.

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Last updated: 26 Aug 2019

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