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How to Become a Project Manager

What Is PMP Certification?

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PMP certification is a popular and prestigious credential among Project Managers.

If you’re a Project Manager, you’ve heard those three letters a lot. They stand for Project Manager Professional, and for three little letters, they can have a big impact: Project Managers seek this credential out because it’s proven to be correlated to higher salaries.

The PMP exam itself, which is undoubtedly not easy with its 200 challenging questions to be answered in four hours, is the last step of the selection process carried out by the PMI.

Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) – a worldwide organization with more than 500,000 members – this credential is recognized globally as a standout credential for anyone working in the project management industry. PMI is a worldwide organization with more than 500,000 members.

PMP certification is less about strategy and creative problem-solving, and that it’s more centered on theory and process. You’ll still need to find ways to connect with folks and come up with solutions that take your project’s unique goals and personalities into account. And let’s be real: Nothing beats practical experience for learning how to think on your feet when a project throws you the inevitable curveball.

Is PMP Certification Worth It?

If you’re a Project Manager, a PMP Certification is definitely worth it given its prestigious status within the industry.

As a professional Project Manager, pursuing a PMP certification will boost your core project management skills while providing you a structured framework for how to successfully steer projects. Everyone in the project management industry is familiar with how highly regarded the PMP is, so you’ll have newfound professional clout with your peers. You’ll also now be eligible for career opportunities that make PMP certification a prerequisite for hiring.

The other reason it’s worth it? While you do have to consider the time and money you would invest in acquiring a PMP, there’s really no denying that it does boost your chances at a raise or a promotion. According to PMI’s Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey (2020), 82 percent of Project Managers surveyed have a PMP certification and worldwide, PMP-certified survey respondents earn 22 percent higher median salaries on average than those without PMP certification. Further, the study also found that median salary steadily grows the longer you hold a PMP certification.

According to the survey, Project Managers in the U.S. with a PMP certification earned a median salary of $111,000, while Project Managers without the credential earned a median salary of $91,000.

And since it’s in a universal format, a PMP certification ensures you’re following the best practices of project management no matter where you are or where you go.

What Is Agile Certification?

Agile certifications are educational credentials that Project Managers pursue to learn more about a specific agile methodology.

Agile project management is a collaborative, iterative approach to project management that incorporates continuous testing and an ability to be adaptive and quickly respond to change. If you work in an industry where agile practices are the norm -- or you want to learn more about how you might use agile methodology with your own team -- you might decide to get an agile certification.

The PMI offers a qualification designed specifically for agile practitioners, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). There’s also an agile-specific PRINCE2 certification, PRINCE2 Agile, available at both Practitioner and Foundation levels.

Depending on which agile methodologies you (and your organization) prefer, you could also choose to specialize even more. For example, if you’re a Scrum aficionado, many Project Managers covet a Certified ScrumMaster with the Scrum Alliance.

Which agile certification is right for you depends on the processes and frameworks your organization and industry use most.

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