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PMP Certification Career Paths


The Project Management Institute offers project management certifications for individuals at all career levels. This certification guide will help you get started with PMI's most popular PMP credential as well as other certs and career paths.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a nonprofit membership association and certification body, best known for its Project Management Professional (PMP) credential and the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), a collection of best practices and standards for project management. With over 700,000 members in 180 countries, PMI is the world's largest project management association.

PMI, along with its affiliate organizations, provides education, research, advocacy, tools and other resources to more than 2.9 million project management-related professionals. Affiliate organizations include Human Systems International (benchmark and assessment tools and services), (formerly, and ProjectsAtWork (communities, networks, tools and resources).

As interest in the project management profession has grown, PMI's student membership has grown as well, with PMI reporting a 103 percent increase. PMI's Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) reports that more than 17,000 students are currently enrolled in GAC-certified project management courses.

Aside from certifications, PMI offers a plethora of resources including training courses, educational materials, customizable tools and templates for project managers, professional development assistance, and plenty of networking opportunities through chapters and communities of practice.


PMI Certification Program Overview

The PMI Certification Program began in the early 1980s with the PMP credential, and PMI has since added several certifications. The entry-level cert is the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). There are also several upper-level certs that specialize in program management, portfolio management, agile practices, risk management, business analysis, and scheduling. Although no PMI credential is a required prerequisite for another PMI credential, you'll see some suggested certification ladders below.

Becoming a PMI member offers a lot of benefits, including access to digital editions of all PMI global standards and the PMBOK Guide, as well as discounts on certification exams and renewals. Anyone can apply for membership, and there are three membership tiers available: individual, student, and retiree. Individual membership costs $129 USD plus a $10 application fee. Individual members can renew annually for $129. Former members who are now retired can join for $65 and students pay only $32.


PMP: Project Management Professional

Professional project managers can't go wrong by getting the Project Management Professional (PMP). It's one of the most popular and respected project management certs in the world (PMI reports more than 650,000 PMPs worldwide) and can boost your salary. According to PMI'sProject Management Salary Survey – Eight Edition, PMPs earn a reported 17 percent more than non-PMP certified project managers.

The PMP requires (1) a high school diploma or associate's degree (or equivalent), and five years of project management experience with 7,500 hours or more spent leading projects, plus 35 hours of project management education or (2) a four-year degree or equivalent, and three years of project management experience with 4,500 hours or more spent leading projects plus 35 hours of PM education and passing an exam. The exam has 200 multiple-choice questions (175 are scored), lasts up to four hours and costs $405 (members) or $555 (nonmembers).


RMP: Risk Management Professional

The PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) recognizes individuals who plan and manage project risk strategy and processes, monitor and report on risk, and analyze special issues. Eligibility requirements include (1) a high school diploma, associate's degree or equivalent, 4,500 hours of project risk experience and 40 hours of project risk management education or (2) a four-year degree or equivalent, 3,000 hours of project risk experience, and 30 hours of project risk management education.

The single required exam has 170 multiple-choice questions (150 are scored), takes up to 3.5 hours and costs $520 (members) or $670 (nonmembers).


CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is PMI's entry-level certification, which is ideal for people who are interested in a career in project management but have little relevant experience. Achieving the CAPM credential indicates you understand basic project management concepts, terminology, and processes.

A candidate must pass a 150-question multiple-choice exam (135 of which are scored). In addition, PMI requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) or associate's degree along with 1,500 hours of project experience, or 23 hours of PM education, before taking the exam. The exam takes up to three hours and costs $225 (members) or $300 (nonmembers). Once the application is approved, candidates have up to one year to pass the exam. No more than three exam attempts can be made during the year. Retests cost $150 (members) or $200 (nonmembers).