This is a classic question whose answer would likely help a lot of people on this site.
Is it worth it to get the PMP? How about other project management certifications?
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Certifications of any type, whether for PM (PMP, PRINCE2), Computer Security (Security+) or Plumbing are of primary use to job seekers. It's an independent and objective assessment you can put on your resume to document that the certifying authority thinks you possess a particular skill.
The question a person needs to ask themselves is: what are they hoping to gain from certification?
I personally got my PMP specifically because I was considering changing jobs & I was looking to add a PM credential to my resume. I had been managing projects for over 10 years. I applied, bought Head First PMP, took a few free online practice exams and took the test. The certification provided exactly what I expected.
For a younger or candidate PM, I'm not sure I'd encourage them unequivocally to run out & get certified, unless they also considering a career change. The PMP is heavy on theory and light on practice - it reminds me of the CMMI that way. I've run across some PRINCE2 sites that deride the PMP for essentially capturing 'common sense' and little else. That said, because of the devotion to the PMBOK, which is an excellent set of practices, the PMP certification is of increasing value as the size of the project increases.
In a nutshell, I highly recommend the PMP or any comparable cert for job seekers. I would not recommend it outright for people wanting to learn the profession, but it's an option that you could certainly take.
There was a paper in the February 2011 issue of the Project Management Journal (Vol. 42, Nbr. 1): "PMP Certification as a core competency: Necessary but not sufficient" (pages 31-41). Although it was only a limited study, its' results are interesting.
I still value my certification because it gave me the opportunity to study the pmbok in more detail then I otherwise was ever going to do. Like all the rest, this is tacit knowledge I carry with me to do my job. But when people ask me about it I call it the cherry on the cake: it looks good, but it doesn't tell you anything about the cake :-).
I can't argue on the value to job seekers. But recently I had a fundemental Aha Moment that made me realize the value of certifications, if done right. I wrote a long blog on this, specifically in reaction to the recent PMI Agile Certification.
If you want to read the full blog, click on the URL below. The nutshell points to the US Incident Command System. A national system that allows multiple emergency service agencies to plug into each other and operate together on a disaster.
The can do it because of a common language and a common framework.
Certifications give you that common ground from which everyone can agree that the red cylinder thing is a fire extinguisher and not an upright vacuum cleaner.
Potato, Pahtato Gorilla- http://thegorillaisnamedhogarth.blogspot.com/2011/03/potato-pahtato-gorilla.html
I have completed my PMP certification in Oct-2010 and have few comments regarding its worth
In a world moving from waterfall to lean and agile the 42 processes and 9 knowledge areas may not make sense in all project management scenarios. That's the reason why I think PMI has realized it and has come out with an agile certification.
Having said the previous point I still believe for a technical person moving to PM role it provides a very structured learning methodology where you can understand and appreciate the different facets of project management especially topics like risk management and cost management which no one teaches you otherwise.
Also in the end any certification help you differentiate yourself from the persons with similar skill set, and demonstrate that you have invested time and effort in getting yourself benchmarked against some industry standard.
There are a few perspectives:
Looking for a job
In this case it really depends. There are some organizations which values certification highly and those which don't really care and won't pay you even a penny more because you have a bunch of certificates. Big corporations tend to be in the former group. I personally present the latter approach. You can either prove your skills during recruitment or no and your certificates don't change it.
Knowing the stuff
Whatever kind of certification we're discussing here it deals with specific methods, practices, principles and nomenclature. If everyone at your workplace follow specific method getting certification can help to sort all the stuff out and get you on the same page with others. Especially when the organization follows some approach rather conservatively.
Learning/becoming better specialist
That's where certification barely works. You can get most certificates pretty easily (PMP being rather an exception here). Having the certificate proves only you participated in some course (see: http://technicaldebt.com/?p=645). Even PMP with PDU mechanism doesn't really work well here. A bunch of PDUs is no confirmation that I'm better specialist or know more than someone who doesn't care about it at all.
To summarize: if your organization is orthodox in following specific method, certification might be quite a good idea. If you look for a job, think first what kind of job you're looking for. And if you want to learn I believe you can use the time much better than trying to earn a certificate.
Btw: so far I know no PM-related certificate which would work differently.
I have found getting a PMP is worth it to have if you think that the certificate will allow you to move up in your current company or you think that you would look for another position in the future.
Although I have found that solid experience is much more valuable than a PMP certificate, it certainly opens doors for you when job searching!
For more information, you can check out a few articles I've written here: PMP certificate- is it worth it?, and What to expect applying, preparing, and taking the PMP exam
I actually wrote a blog post about it. The summary of it is that I think it's worth it for me, but depending on your situation it might not be the best thing for you.
PMP & Career Opportunity
PMP, per se, does not create any job opportunity. But it can help in enhancing your career. The scope of PMP is excellent. It is a well renowned & respected certification. According to various surveys, it is one of the top 10 certifications in the world.
Many companies have made it mandatory for the PMs to attain a PMP or equivalent certification. You will find many JDs saying “PMP mandatory”. If you do not have the certification then you are not considered for the PM designation. This might restrict your career progress.
Another reason to do PMP is salary. According to PMI's Salary Survey 9th edition - those with a PMP certification garner a higher salary (20% higher on average) than those without a PMP certification
You can also refer to PMI salary survey (http://www.pmi.org/learning/project-management-salary-survey.aspx) and check out the salaries for your geography and your industry.
There are 2 requirements to appear for the PMP certification -
Regarding Project Management Experience
You need 4500 hrs of PM experience if you have done 4 years of degree (bachelors degree or equivalent). Other wise if you have a diploma of equivalent then you need 7500 hrs of PM experience.
PM role is important for doing PMP - 4500/7500 hours of experience should be in leading & directing projects. However, PM role is not equivalent to PM designation/title. PM role means that you should have managed full or part of a project. PM role could mean vendor management, team management, client management etc. The projects could be related to any industry. They could be big or small, technical or non-technical etc.
You can read more about the details of PM experience here - questions on PMP requirements
Regarding 35 contact hours This article that will tell you everything about PMP 35 hours training - The Complete Guide to PMP 35 Contact Hours
You can do self-learning online training to get 35 contact hours - Best PMP Online Training Course - 6 Popular Courses Compared
Or you can go go for an instructor-led online course - Best PMP Live Online Training - 6 Popular Courses Compared