Is PMP Certification Worth It from an Employer Perspective?

How do organizations benefit from having project managers who are PMP® certified? Learn more here.

What is the practical value of the PMP® credential from an employer perspective?

There are many reasons to consider pursuing a PMP® certified workforce, not all of which will apply to your business. Let’s look at a few common ones.

  1. Better Project Results. Certified project managers are taught a broad set of tools to organize work and mobilize teams more effectively. Their exam performance validates their practical understanding of these tools, as well as the PM’s ability to tailor these techniques to the challenge at hand.
  2. Stronger Team Dynamics. Today’s PMP® exam content heavily emphasizes the people side of team leadership. (In fact, the “People” domain is 42% of the exam.) While the PMP® exam is not a test of EQ, it does prove that the project manager understands their role as a motivator and amplifier of team performance.
  3. Shared Terminology. Particularly in medium and large organizations, it’s important for project managers to speak the same language. The PMP® credential is a global certification that teaches standard concepts and terminology that are broadly accepted across the profession, even across industries.
  4. Customer Attraction. In companies where your project managers are delivering a service or product to your customer, PMP® certification is increasingly perceived as a value-add. In some cases, it is even a requirement to do business. You can potentially get an edge on your competition—and/or raise your rates—when all or most of your staff has this credential.
  5. Employee Retention. So far, we’ve talked about the upside of certification. There’s also a cost to not offering PMP® certification support to your employees. Most project managers aspire to earn the PMP® certification (or an equivalent). Offering exam reimbursement and test prep resources can be a “win” for talent attraction, retention, and engagement—and a liability for employers who don’t offer this type of support,
  6. Greater Agility.  The PMP® exam heavily emphasizes agile approaches to project management. Even if your organization utilizes a more traditional approach, project managers with expertise in multiple project management frameworks can speed up your company’s rate of innovation.

Are PMP® project managers better than non-certified project managers?

Not necessarily. It’s important to note that the PMP® exam does not validate an employee’s past results, nor does it assess individual strengths, skills, and liabilities. Instead, the PMP® certification validates these three things:

  • Experience. The employee has at least three years of validated project management experience (or five years if they don’t have a four-year degree).
  • Knowledge. The employee has passed a difficult exam that covers a comprehensive set of project management tools, techniques, processes, and principles. In addition, they took 35 hours of project management education to qualify for the exam.
  • Ongoing Development. The employee has made efforts to stay current in their knowledge (at least 60 hours of professional development units every three years).

Is the PMP® better than other similar certifications, like PRINCE2?

Not necessarily. However, there are a few areas where PMP® has the advantage over the certifications. First and foremost, it is the most common globally. This means that the PMP®  credential also makes it easier for your employees to pursue more specialized certifications through PMI.

What if my employee uses their new PMP® credential to find a job somwhere else?

As with any investment in your employees’ professional development, this does happen from time to time. However, for most companies, the bigger risk is that employees will gravitate to employers who offer certification reimbursement as a benefit. If you are not offering this support, you may find yourself lagging behind competitors in terms of talent attraction, retention, and engagement.

What is the level of effort for my employee to get their PMP® certification?

First, your employee will need to have at least three years of project management experience. They do not have to have the title of project manager, but they must prove that they were the person responsible for leading the project team to achieve the success criteria.

They will also need to get 35 hours of project management education. While not required, getting this education through one of PMI’s Authorized Training Partners can speed application approval in the case of an audit.

PMP® preparation courses count toward the 35-hour total. Some organizations choose to offer this to their employees privately as a group. This not only makes test prep easier but also enables an instructor to tailor examples and connect concepts to your industry.

Interested in how we could provide private PMP training for your company? Contact us.

Finally, your employee will need to spend 10-40 hours studying for the exam (often in addition to a PMP® exam prep course). Make no mistake, this is a difficult exam. Studying is essential.

Is there a benefit to having my whole team get PMP® certified?

Yes. The sooner you achieve a critical mass of PMP® certified employees, the sooner you can leverage a common understanding of tools, techniques, and terminology for better results. In addition, if many employees are preparing for the exam at the same time, you may be able to get discounts on things like test prep software and exam prep courses.

Is a PMP® certified project manager qualified to build or lead our PMO?

PMP® certification (or an equivalent) is usually a pre-requisite to doing PMO development work because it demonstrates both validated experience and knowledge of the profession.  However, it is not enough to qualify a person or company for PMO development work. Other things to consider for a PMO role are:

  • Length of experience
  • Depth of experience (for example, in one industry or project type)
  • Breadth of experience
  • Exposure to complexity
  • References and testimonials, especially from previous direct reports (if an individual) or clients (if a company)
  • Past results, especially in performance improvement, process improvement, and people leadership
  • Exposure to multiple project management frameworks (e.g., traditional, agile, hybrid)
  • Ability to think both systematically and adaptively, depending on the scenario

How much does the PMP® exam cost?

The exam fee is $405 for PMI members. However, additional costs might include PMP® prep materials, a PMP® prep course, and retake fees if the exam isn’t passed the first time.

Should we reimburse our employees for their PMP® certification?

At minimum, it’s a good idea to reimburse your employees for the exam fee itself. When the certification adds direct values to your bottom line (for example, by making you more competitive for bids) you should consider reimbursing or paying for PMP® exam prep resources and/or courses. You might also choose to allow employees the time away from work to take such a course.

Are there other ways to encourage our employees to get PMP® certified?

Yes. You can consider formally setting certification as a performance expectation (If you do this, be sure to reimburse for the exam fee and provide work time to study or take a prep course). You can also offer incentives, such as a one-time bonus or raise in recognition of the credential.


Is it necessary for my employee to enroll in a PMP® prep course?

It is possible for a person to self-study for the exam, but most people find this to be difficult and time-consuming. Your employee will need to purchase multiple resources to cobble together an effective study plan. The fastest way to study for and pass the exam is to take an exam prep course with one of PMI’s Authorized Training Partners. These partners teach exam prep content provided directly from PMI (often supplemented with additional aids) so you can have confidence that your team members are studying exactly what they need for exam success.


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