Project Management Professional

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Project Management Professional (PMP) is a credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). There are currently 583,806 active PMP certified individuals and 270 chartered chapters across 193 countries worldwide.[1]

Exam syllabus[edit]

The PMP exam is based on the PMP Examination Specification,[2] which describes tasks out of five performance domains:

  1. Initiating the project (13%)
  2. Planning the project (24%)
  3. Executing the project (30%)
  4. Monitoring and controlling the project (25%)
  5. Closing the project (8%)

The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions written against this specification. Twenty-five of the 200 questions on the exam are "sample" questions used to fine-tune the degree of difficulty and precision of the exam and as such are not counted for or against a test taker. These questions are placed randomly throughout the exam. The test taker is only graded on their proficiency on 175 questions. The numbers in parentheses describe the percentage of questions for each domain.[3]

Item references[edit]

Each exam item (a question with its possible answers) has at least two references to standard books or other sources of project management. Most of the questions reference the PMI A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (aka the PMBOK Guide).[4]

The Project Management Framework embodies a project life cycle and five major project management Process Groups:[5]

  1. Initiating.
  2. Planning.
  3. Executing.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling.
  5. Closing.

encompassing a total of 47 processes.[6]

Mapped to these five process groups are ten project management Knowledge Areas:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management
  10. Project Stakeholder Management[6]

The processes of these knowledge areas are described by their inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. The PMBOK also emphasizes the interaction and interdependence between different process groups. For example, the outputs from one process may be used by one or more other processes as inputs.


Government, commercial and other organizations employ PMP certified project managers in an attempt to improve the success rate of projects in all areas of knowledge, by applying a standardized and evolving set of project management principles as contained in PMI's PMBOK Guide.

In December 2005, the PMP credential was tied for fourth place in’s 10 Hottest Certifications for 2006,[7] and in December 2008, it was number 7 of ZDNet’s 10 best IT certifications.[8] More recently, in 2012 and 2013, the PMP credential has been ranked as a top certification by CIO,[9] Global Knowledge,[10] and[11]

Examination process[edit]

An example of a PMP Certificate issued by the PMI to candidates who pass the Project Management Professional Exam.

The PMP exam is offered as a computer-based test through the global network of Prometric testing centers. There is also a paper-based option for locations with no Prometric testing centers nearby. The exam consists of 200 questions ("items"). 25 are pre-release items, which are not included in exam scoring. The score is calculated based on the other 175 items. Each item has a key (the correct answer) and three distractors (incorrect answer choices).

Candidates who take the computer-based test receive their results (passed or not passed) immediately upon completion. PMI also evaluates proficiency levels in each project management process group from high proficiency to low proficiency in a score report which the candidates receive after the examination. Candidates who take paper-based tests receive their test results and score reports typically within 4 weeks.

Item writing[edit]

Item writing is an ongoing process at PMI and new items (questions with 4 answering options each) are added to PMI's collection of exam items while others may be removed from it from time to time. Item writers use the PMP Examination Specification to identify item contents and references (project management texts or standards) to verify the correctness of the item. Individuals who are active in the field of PMP exam preparation (trainers, courseware developers, book authors, etc.) are not allowed to participate in item writing sessions.

Pre-requisites to become eligible[edit]

Candidates must have completed a high school diploma or an associates degree with 60 months (7,500 hours) of project management experience, or a bachelor's degree with 36 months (4,500 hours) of project management experience. In both cases candidates must also have 35 contact hours of project management education. The application for the exam and verification of education and experience are done online at the PMI website.

Continuous credential requirements[edit]

Continuous credential requirements are also called CCRs. To maintain the PMP qualification, 60 professional development units (PDUs) must be earned over a three-year cycle, from activities such as researching, authoring articles, speaking on project management-related topics, or being engaged full-time in project management.[12] Credential holders may earn PDUs towards the maintenance of their credential through formal academic courses or courses offered by a provider (R.E.P. or Component). However, these are only two of the five categories of PDU earning opportunities in which a credential holder may participate.[13]

Other PMI credentials[edit]

PMP (Project Management Professional) is one of six credentials offered by PMI:[14]

Other PM credentials[edit]


  1. ^ [PMI Today, October 2013 issue, page 4]
  2. ^ Project Management Professional (PMP) Examination Specification. Project Management Institute. September 2005. ISBN 978-1-930699-88-5. 
  3. ^ "PMP Credential Handbook" (PDF). Project Management Institute. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  4. ^ "PMP Credential Handbook" (PDF). Project Management Institute. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  5. ^ PMBOK Guide Fourth Edition
  6. ^ a b PMBOK 5th Ed
  7. ^ Nagel, Becky (December 14, 2005). "’s 10 Hottest Certifications for 2006". Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  8. ^ Dignan, Larry (December 11, 2008). "The 10 best IT certifications". Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  9. ^ Hein, Rich (August 2012). "12 IT Certifications That Deliver Career Advancement". 
  10. ^ Muller, Randy (January 2013). "15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013". 
  11. ^ Schneider, Laura (2013). "Top 15 Highest Paying Certifications in the Technology Industry". 
  12. ^ "Maintain Your Credential". Project Management Institute. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Maintain your Credentials". Project Management Institute. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Certification". Project Management Institute. Retrieved January 12, 2012.