So, you did it. You studied your butt off, making sure you’ve memorized and understand the content provided in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), among numerous other texts you probably poured over to prepare for your PMP certification exam.
In 2019 that was me, after the grueling 6 months of hard work and cramming that came after deciding to become PMP certified – a step I took to become more marketable and to increase my salary potential.
Thankfully, my hard work paid off – despite around half of entrants failing the exam on the first attempt. I’m extremely proud that I was able to pass on my first try 6 months after making the decision to take it.
But that was far from the end of my journey. Since then, I’ve come to look at becoming PMP-certified as just one milestone in the course of many more in the course of my project management career.
This contrasts with the almost unconscious belief I had while studying for the PMP, that PMP certification was the ‘end goal’. I was still at least a year away from having the type of position I wanted.
I’d like to share the four most important things I’ve learned since becoming PMP-certified.
You can – and should – make immediate use of your PMP certification
Right away, new PMP-certified professionals receive a digital badge via Credly proving their PMP certification.
With this you can provide proof of your PMP-certification to current or potential future employers. You’ll want to update your social media, especially accounts closely connected to your career, such as LinkedIn. You also want to revise your resume, to show potential new employers your new PMP-certified status.
The PMP is hard proof that, alongside years of experience (a prerequisite of sitting for the PMP exam in the first place) you are an all-round expert in project management, with honed technical and business skills, in addition to the soft skills that allow you to communicate with both colleagues and clients effectively.
Take note that you probably won’t receive your physical PMP credential certificate in the mail for about 6-8 weeks, along with the congratulatory letter and instructions as to how you can keep your PMP certification.
(If you want the PMP-certified lapel pin, which can be useful when networking, you can request to have it sent to you for free from the Project Management Institute (PMI) – they won’t send this to you unless you ask specifically.)
Maintaining your PMP
Sadly, even after all the hours you put into studying and qualifying for your PMP, the work doesn’t stop there – but that’s why the PMP is so well-respected and carries such weight in the world of project management.
Instead, you will need to acquire 60 professional development units (PDUs) to meet the PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR), which must be achieved in each 3-year CCR cycle.
To be clear, that means 60 hours of PDUs, which comprise of educational units (a minimum of 35 out of the 60 required PDUs) and/or ‘giving back’ PDUs (which are optional but can count for up to 25 of your 60 PDUs).
Of your educational PDUs, you must have at least 8 technical PDUs, 8 leadership PDUs and 8 strategic PDUs, with the remaining PDUs in whichever of these categories you prefer. You can obtain these through courses, researching, engaging in e-learning and more.
Giving back PDUs can be comprised of activities such as sharing project management knowledge, giving talks and presentations, creating learning resources and more activities that ‘give back’ to the project management profession.
You can expect career perks
There are loads of potential career benefits you might reap from obtaining your PMP certification; though, experiences post-PMP differ from person to person.
One of the most obvious benefits that PMP-holders hope to gain is – of course – an increase in salary, and stats show that this is more than likely to happen. PMP-holders on average have a salary 20% higher than that of their non-PMP certified counterparts.
Whether it allows you to negotiate a higher salary at your current job or go for a higher paying job at a different company or even in a different industry, the PMP-certification is sure to raise your prospects.
What’s more, your productivity and efficiency will most probably skyrocket as you’re armed with more knowledge, in addition to having a greater capacity to apply that knowledge to each project you take on.
Another perk to being PMP-certified – and more particularly of being a member of the Project Management Institute – is that your networking opportunities will broaden significantly.
There are loads of meet-ups organised by the PMI in major cities, where members can congregate to network and learn more about the industry – there are also a ton of online communities to get involved with.
The networking opportunities provided by getting involved with the PMI and becoming PMP certified may even lead to a potential new job.
If you’re changing industries, you’ll need more than your PMP
The PMP is a great certification that is bound to make you a better project manager than you were before – no matter how much prior experience you had. However, if your goal is to transition to a role in an entirely different industry, then your PMP – no matter how useful – will never totally prepare you for the change.
As project managers, we’re lucky in the sense that our skills are so transferable. We’re excellent at communicating, planning, and analyzing risks, among many more tactile skills – allowing us to sidestep into a different industry if we want to. These skills give us a unique flexibility in our career trajectory and the ability to follow our interests.
Shortly after obtaining my PMP, I transitioned from construction and design project management to business transformation and software implementation.
Regardless of my PMP, there was still a steep learning curve that only education about – and experience with – my new industry could prepare me for.
In my case, I got another certification in software product management. The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) would have been another good option to prepare me for the unique work dynamic that my new industry fosters.
The PMP alone will boost your performance in any project management job, but there are countless ways you can prepare yourself further with more industry-specific education.
Not only will continued education make you more prepared for any job position you enter, but it also makes you more marketable and shows you’re really interested in the industry in which you’re applying for a role.
Education comes in all forms – you don’t have to get certification upon certification in order to find out about your new industry. You could attend seminars, conferences, undertake some short courses and more to find out more about your chosen industry.
So, if you’ve passed your PMP – congrats! But remember that the journey doesn’t stop there, and that the PMP is just one step towards making your project management career the most successful it can be.
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