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  • Writer's pictureJosh Atkinson

How to earn your PMP® Certification

In talking with so many I think there is a lot of demand/desire to obtain the Project Management Professional Certification or PMP®, yet so many don’t really know what this requires or how do go about doing it.

This article is to help simplify the process and set folks (especially our veterans) up for success.

First it is important to understand that earning your PMP® certification is a journey and not just an event. Many folks think that you just take the 5 day/35 hour class and you get your PMP on Friday. This isn’t how it works. It’s NOT a participation trophy like other certificates.

The 3-part Journey

Part 1: Training

In order for you to be allowed to apply for the PMP® Exam you MUST have 35 contact hours of training. This training can come from college courses or various methods, but you need to be able to show that you have at least 35 hours of self-paced or live classroom learning.

One of the best ways to get these 35 hours is to attend a PMP® Prep course or Boot Camp though it isn’t required. I am an advocate of a prep course because many other educational programs are speaking in more foundations or concepts of projects but may not actually understand the nuances of the exam or how to prepare for the test. (also good to take a class with a PMI-ATP or authorized training partner to ensure what you are being taught is actually aligned with the current exam) Look them up here:

Part 2: The Application

After you have taken your course, the next step is to fill out the PMP application. To qualify for the PMP® exam you MUST have at least 36 months of non-overlapping experience (with a Bachelors or higher), or you must have at least 60 months of experience (No Bachelors Degree).

This can seem daunting for some; especially military. I can assure you that everything we lead in the military is a project and translating military to civilian for the application is part of PM-ProLearn’s specialty. We are the Roseta of military to PM translation.

PMI is trying to validate that you have applied the planning and execution methodologies in a project environment in order to allow you to get certified. The application requires you to describe your projects to qualify. All PM-ProLearn students get assistance with this application and a pre submission review for compliance.

Once you submit your application to PMI it will take about 5 working days to get it approved. You will need to log into your PMI account to check the status.

There is a chance you will also be selected for an audit. If this happens, don’t worry. PMI is doing random sampling to see that students are not lying on their applications. As long as you have listed a credible POC for each project it should be rather painless. If you are selected for Audit, you will need to wait until the audit is completed before you will be allowed to test.

Part 3: The Exam

Now that you have taken a class, and had your application approved, you need to study for the exam. The Exam is a 4 hour proctored test monitored by Pearson Vue. It is 180 questions that are multiple choice; choose the best answer.

You can choose to test at an in person testing center or at home through the OnVue system. For our military members, your education center is likely a testing center already. You can find a center here:

After the class PM-ProLearn students are provided a 21-day study program to help them get ready. Going from initial exposure in the course to test ready takes some time and practice. You cannot skip this step. PM-ProLearn also has a dynamic full length practice test to make sure you are fully ready for the real thing. The exam changes every time you take it so you cannot memorize the answers.

Last piece: paying for the exam. The exam is an added cost for many of $575 if you are not a PMI member, or $405 if you pay the $139 membership fee. For PM-ProLearn, the exam and a failure retest are included with our training.

The test will be a frustrating exam just because you might now want to choose any answer. It is important that while you are studying you understand why you got a question right or wrong before you try the real thing. Getting lucky will not help you. Pace yourself and go in with a plan.

Overall timeline:

Typically we say that the journey to your PMP® certification will take between 5 to 8 weeks. One week of class, 3 weeks of studying, and then scheduling your exam. If you find its taking you more than 8 weeks, you might want to sit back in class again. This is a HUGE benefit for our PM-ProLearn students with a year of unlimited attendance and re-attendance. Don’t forget to request your one on one coaching too.

Funding Options:

If you are thinking about pursuing your PMP® and still have questions please email us at and one of our client advisors will reach out to make sure you understand. We can also walk through various funding options too.

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