There is absolutely no reason to wait 20 years as I did to get your PMP®! Although PMI was founded in 1969, it was virtually unknown when I embarked on my Project Management training in 1980. I had on-the-job training from my managers, seminars from IEEE and ACM, and formal classes from the GE Management Institute, but PMI never played a part in any of that. There was also a lot of effort in self-study — I was one of the early adopters of Visi-Schedule, perhaps the earliest well known scheduling tool.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I had the opportunity to work with a fellow Project Manager who was a PMP. Tom encouraged me to look into the certification. In between work and travel (I was a jet commuter every week from San Diego to Walnut Creek at the time) I looked into the exam requirements, found I met all the qualifications, and had more than 75% of the knowledge to pass. I had just two relatively new knowledge areas to look into, a few areas to brush up on, and had to learn “the PMI way” (which was only slightly different than what I was practicing). By November 2000 I took the exam and it was the following year I decided to look into the organization behind it. The rest, as they say, is history.
Back in 1980, the road to Project Management was very different than it is today. There is a far larger demand for Project Management, so getting the necessary training and qualifications early is more important so you are distinguished from the other potential candidates. Worse yet, if you find yourself being the “knighted Project Manager” (here’s a copy of MS Project — go manage our projects), you may never find the time to gain the right skills and knowledge to allow you to move your career ahead in a constructive manner.
Besides the benefit of having the qualifications in hand, there are other benefits of having a PMP:
- You demonstrate to your prospective employer you have some minimal training
- Likewise, you have at least 3-6 years of practical experience
- You are expanding your network of contacts and opportunities
- You are giving something to the future of others in your profession
- The PMP was rated #5 of the top 10 IT qualifications — an extra benefit for IT PMs
- You are demonstrating your commitment to life long learning
- PMPs have higher average salaries
- PMP is now a requirement for certain jobs
- PMP has major recognition in large organizations (e.g. US Government, Microsoft, HP)
Now, there is even less reason to put off working toward this credential — the new CAPM® certificate is an intermediate milestone you can shoot for along the way. I like to think of it as the mid-point in your path, since it carries half the experience requirements of the PMP. There is also the new PgMP if you have already obtained your PMP.
Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP is the Director of the Project Support Office at EDmin as well as a consultant, speaker, writer, educator, and mentor on Project Management. Ray is also the Component Mentor for PMI Region 7 (Southwest North America), a Past President of PMI, San Diego Chapter, Inc., and an adjunct faculty member at three San Diego universities. You can find out more about his professional roles at http://www.edmin.com/company/index.cfm?function=showBioDetail&id=80 and through his blog, Tales from the Project Notebook, at http://projectnotebook.blogspot.com.