You know you need the PMP certification training to get that next promotion at work. However, finding the time to study isn’t easy. Then you have to face the question of which resources to leverage. Let’s cut through the complexity by looking at a few simple ways to get PMP certified faster.
1) Know Your Why For PMP Certification
Take 5 minutes to journal about why you want to pursue this certification. Is it a prerequisite for your career goals? Do you want to fill in gaps in your knowledge? Take your time here – knowing your why is essential to staying motivated during your studies. Here are some popular reasons for taking the PMP:
- Career Advancement. As the PMP becomes a standard requirement, you may hit the ceiling on your career goals unless you earn the PMP certification.
- Increase Your Confidence. You probably have a few techniques you use to stay organized on your projects. However, personal organization tips and tricks are not enough to manage large projects. To operate at that scale, the tools and methods covered in the PMP certification will help.
- Maintain Competitiveness. If you skip investing in your career, you put yourself at a disadvantage. As the PMP becomes more popular in project management, it may not be optional.
Your Action Step: Take 5 minutes and write down 3-5 reasons why you are interested in earning the PMP certification.
2) Know The PMI Requirements Before You Apply
Do you know why the PMP certification is so widely respected in the market? It is challenging to obtain, and it requires considered work experience hours. Before we go any further, take the time to check if you are eligible for the certification.
Note: The PMP certification is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). If you have a question on whether you are eligible, it is best to contact PMI directly.
- Work Experience. The amount of work experience required for the PMP depends on whether you have a degree. Take note that the application will ask for a detailed breakdown of your experience hours (4500-7500 hours) and contact information for references. Remember that PMI can audit your application and request proof from your references.
- Project Management Training. You must complete an accepted project management training course. Fortunately, there are many options available including intense weekend courses and online self-study courses.
- Application. You need to complete the PMP application. Once it is approved, you will have the option to schedule your PMP exam date.
- Exam. PMP certification exams are multiple choice tests based on the PMBOK Guide and other resources. The good news? Most major cities have several testing centers so you can choose a time that suits your schedule.
3) Leverage A Proven Study System
What was the last exam that you studied for and passed? If you are taking the PMP exam, your university years are probably a distant memory. With your career advancement goals on the line, do yourself a favor: use a proven study system. You could ask your coworkers for recommendations, but they may have taken the exam years ago in a classroom. Instead, I recommend looking for online options that fit with your schedule.
When you select a PMP certification training resource, look for the following features:
- Practice Exam Questions. Reading PMP exam books is helpful. How do you know if you are truly learning what you read? The only way to tell is to take a practice exam. The best PMP certification training providers include practice questions so you can evaluate your knowledge.
- Contact Hours. Under current PMI requirements, you must complete a certain amount of “contact hours” to be eligible to take the exam. Make sure the resource you choose fulfills this requirement.
- Case Studies. If you’re like me, you can only read the PMBOK Guide so much before you ask “how does this work in practice?” That’s why I recommend looking for industry case studies in your certification training.
- Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). This special status quickly tells you whether or not a training provider has registered with PMI. If a PMP certification training has this status, it is a good sign you are working with a reliable provider.
- Training Format. In essence, you have two ways to take PMP training: online or in a classroom. I used both methods when I earned my PMP certification. If I had to do it all over again with limited resources, I would focus on an online course option.
4) Discuss Your Plans With Your Manager
If you have been following along so far, you have already made some substantial progress toward earning your PMP certification. Now it is time to reach out to your stakeholders at work. To keep this simple, let’s focus on your manager. I recommend scheduling a one on one meeting with your manager to discuss your PMP goals. Ask for their advice and support in pursuing your studies.
Note: If your organization tends to fund professional development, ask your manager for funding before you pay for anything.
5) Connect With Your PMI Chapter
Studying by yourself is critical to PMP certification success. To reinforce your learning, connecting with others is helpful. If your area has a PMI chapter, I recommend joining and asking about PMP study groups. Joining an in-person study group is an excellent way to grow your network while you learn.
Resource: Visit this webpage for a list of PMI local chapters to find one located near you.
6) Commit To A Study Schedule
In my first job, I used to try to squeeze professional development into my work day. When 4 pm arrived, I would open my materials and start studying. As you might guess, this studying approach was slow and didn’t work well. That’s why I recommend you commit to a study schedule. Skip TV twice per week or cut back on a volunteer role to give yourself the study time you need.
7) Leverage Deadlines By Scheduling Your Exam Date
Until you have a specific PMP certification exam date, your study efforts will be unfocused. That’s why I recommend scheduling your exam date as soon as you can. To the degree possible, schedule your exam to avoid known holiday plans, work busy periods and so forth. Once you have a date in mind, build a high-level schedule to organize your studies.
Here is a sample three month study schedule that assumes you have about 5-10 hours per week to study:
- Month 1. Complete your contact hours course. Read through the PMBOK Guide.
- Month 2. Complete two or more practice exams. Focus your studies on areas where you have low scores. Attend one study group session.
- Month 3. Write up your notes using The Feynman Technique for areas where you need to sharpen your understanding. Take more practice questions. Visit the exam location a few days in advance to confirm you know how to get there.