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If someone has written PMP on their resume. What can I assume that they know about project management?

Would they know what is scrum, extreme programming, waterfall, etc? Would they know which methodology to chose and when?

What is safe to assume about a person with PMP Certification?

EDIT: Alternate wording of the question is what is taught to a PMP and what are they tested against?

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  • This question also goes for all other types of certification (prince2, scrum, PMBOK, etc...) – Kennethvr Jun 15 '11 at 6:52
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Hasan, David's answer is exactly correct. It guarantee's nothing. But if your question is more along the lines of what does it 'imply' a guarantee of...

It implies that the PM understands and uses commonly used processes and vocabulary that would be understood in most industries. It also implies that the PM knows how and when to use these processes correctly.

Unfortunately these are only implied, and neither true or guaranteed.

So what is tested against? WBS, EV, CP, the 9 Knowledge Areas, the 42 processes, good practice, ethics, etc., but ONLY as can be applied to ALL industry. So would they know scrum, XP, waterfall, etc.? Not to pass the PMP. Those are specific methodologies and the PMP does not deal with those. The PMBoK Guide (on which the PMP is based) was designed as a high level framework from with methodologies can then be developed.

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With the PMP credential, you are guaranteed that, at one point in his/her relatively recent past, (s)he took and passed the PMI test. All else are uncertain.

@Hasan in response to comment: I believe I answered the question and I meant exactly what I wrote. The PMP test is knowledge base, psychometric test that touches a little bit on skill, based on basic PM principles and practices as indicated in the PMBoK. A PMP certificate guarantees that the person has passed the test and had at that time the basic knowledge to pass it at the then passing score. It guarantees nothing else, including whether that person has retained what (s)he learned to pass it or that (s)he really understood it, the latter indicative of boot camps. To maintain the PMP, you are required to obtain PDUs, which I suppose provides a degree of confidence that the individual is maintaining or continuing to learn; however, there is really no oversight in terms of knowledge acquisition, master, and retention with those PDU classes. So the degree confidence you might have is further degraded.

There has been no quality examination that correlates the performance to the PMP-certified practitioner. None. There is no evidence that a PMP performs better or worse than the non PMP. Thus, you can generalize nothing from that, either, meaning you have continued uncertainty.

At the end of the day, a PMP guarantees only that a test was passed.

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  • +1 I agree with David, this answers the question perfectly. There is no guarantee. In fact, the person taking the PMI test could have jut quickly memorized everything to pass the test and then promptly forgotten it all as soon as he/she walked out of the room. (This is unlikely, but possible.) – jmort253 Jun 11 '11 at 16:48
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    Basic PM practices centered on the very high level processes of the nine knowledge areas across the five process areas. But I don't think that is what you are after, either. PMP is entry level. It tests for basic, primitive competencies of a person. – David Espina Jun 11 '11 at 17:31
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    @Hasan - This is why they give you such a large textarea to use for your question :). The More detail and clarity in your question, the more likely you'll get answers you're looking for. – jmort253 Jun 12 '11 at 17:38
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    Thank you @DavidEspina for the elaborate answer. My earlier comment wasn't in a good taste. My appologies. – Muhammad Hasan Khan Mar 10 at 17:00
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It's a tricky question. It does guarantee that you know the theory of Project Management as defined by the PMI. You will have a common language and you will know the basic flow of the project phases. You will have grasped the different knowledge areas enough to recognize them in practice. It also guarantees that you've put in a few years of project work.

What it doesn't guarantee is a level of competence. I have worked with PMP certified PMs who couldn't manage themselves out of a paper bag. I've worked with non certified PMs who could manage a multi-million dollar project without breaking a sweat.

Over the years I've achieved a number of certification (mutual funds license, Canadian Securities, etc). They have tended towards theory and knowledge rather than experience. PMP at least has experience requirements.

hope that helps.

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PMP guarantees that the certified do have a general understanding of Project Management concepts and tools. It also guarantees that the certified is experienced with real-time projects. Know more about PMI Certifications.

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    Neither of these is true. – David Espina Feb 17 at 10:55
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It proves they took the time and the initiative to achieve the certification. Neither the test nor the application paperwork are trivial, they both take considerable amounts of time and dedication to complete.

While it does not guarantee their level of competence as a PM, it does guarantee that they were willing to do the work and the studying and that they were competent enough to pass the exam.

I doubt there is any written exam to prove someone's ability to manage people, money, risks, issues, customers, etc, etc all at the same time.

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But also – lots of folks out there say that they have this-or-that certification when they actually don't.

A "certification," despite the name, really does not "certify" anything. It simply indicates that the person undertook some course-of-study and passed a test. It's really just "a certificate." It isn't sold by Willy Wonka, so it isn't a "Golden Ticket."

Now, just having formally studied something can itself be useful. And, "the PMBOK" is a very well thought-out framework for the discussion of project management. It's a thing well worth studying closely, because the people who put it all together did know whereof they spoke. There are a lot of really, really good ideas in there, and they are well-presented. Whether or not you have a "certificate" to show for it, a careful study of these principles will be valuable to you.

And by the way – "exam study guides," if(!) well-done, can be a very good source of information even when you're not interested in taking the exam.

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  • Not all certificates are equal. There are more valuable certificates that indeed certify capability and predicted future performance but the cost of entry is far more extreme. Example: pilot certificates, from private to ATP; medical board certifications. – David Espina Mar 10 at 17:58
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What others have written. I tend to assume that the certification implies that someone was exposed to a common vocabulary. When I was younger, I used to hire people who had skills over people who had certificates every time. A bit older, I still want a sense that someone has real-world skills as opposed an ability and patience for certifications, but am likelier to recognize that both can be true--and sometimes the certificate is a proxy for "I am interested in this field and want to get my hands on."

Someone once explained to me that the requirement to graduate college was often used as a proxy for "does this person have the stick-to-itivness to work through a college degree program," which is often an important life skill. Likewise, we often ask if someone has a PMP or CSM to judge whether someone has had exposure to the concepts in a structure way and is likely to get what is expected. As with most proxys, it is important to remember that the certificate isn't the real thing.

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