Preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam can be challenging. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project professionals spend on average more than 35 hours preparing for the PMP exam. Even this amount of preparation is no guarantee that you will pass on the first try.\n\nFollowing are details about the PMP certification and why it is so valuable and insights into the layout of the exam, the prerequisites, costs, and tips on how to ace the exam.\n\nPMP certification\n\nThe PMP certification by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is the most industry-recognized certification for project managers. Project managers who earn the PMP certification meet global project management standards and are connected to other PMPs worldwide. PMPs bring formalized training and tested knowledge that provides employers with peace of mind, knowing that their project managers are held to PMI's stringent uniform standards.\n\nPMP certification cost\n\nThe cost for PMI members is $405 (U.S.). For non-members the exam costs $555 (U.S.). You have one year to take your test, and you can take the exam two more times should you not pass it the first time.\n\nPMP certification requirements\n\nThere are two possible sets of requirements for the PMP exam:\n\nOr:\n\nProject management experience hours are the number of hours an applicant spent leading and directing project management-related tasks. Applicants do not have to have been a project manager but must have played a significant role in the portion of the project in which he or she was involved and must have led or directed project tasks.\n\nIt is important to note that you are not required to be a PMI Member to apply for and take the PMP exam, but there are some financial benefits to becoming a member, including:\n\nMany local PMI chapters also offer discounts on their PMP exam prep workshops to PMI members.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\n\nHow to get PMP certification\n\nIf you meet the PMP exam eligibility requirements, complete the PMI\u2019s online application form within 90 days. PMI will conduct a full review of your application to ensure it is complete and notify you if any additional information is required. Once PMI confirms your application is complete, you can submit the application fee online. Then the final step in the application process is to schedule your exam.\n\nPMP certification exam\n\nAccording to the PMI, the PMP certification is aligned \u201cwith certification industry best practices, such as those found in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The PMP credential is also accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 17024 standards.\u201d\n\nThe PMP exam is made up of 200 multiple-choice questions, comprising 25 pretest unscored questions and 175 scored questions broken down by phase. Studying the latest edition of the PMBOK Guide is essential to pass the exam.\n\nPMP salaries\n\nThe PMP certification offers a rewarding career, greater flexibility, potential for growth, and a salary boost. In fact, PMP salaries are on average 20% higher than those of uncertified project management professionals, according to PMI\u2019s ninth edition salary survey.\n\nTo find out more about project management pay, see \u201cProject management salaries: Talent gap reveals long-term growth.\u201d\n\nPMP certification training\n\nPMI provides a list of approved training providers, previously called the Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) Program. In January 2021, it will be replaced with the PMI Authorized Training Partner Program in all regions except China. Individuals can find authorized project management training partners by searching PMI\u2019s database. Groups can request distance and face-to-face training and request training using PMI\u2019s Training Request for Proposal (RFP) Form. PMI Authorized Training Partner Program ensures all partners meet all of the necessary requirements, including the following:\n\n\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 through PMI\u2019s quality review process.\n\nPMP certification courses\n\nPMI also lists searchable courses and upcoming ProjectManagement.com on-demand webinars. In addition to PMI, there are other providers of project management PMP exam training and courses, including these free project management training courses. Not all providers are PMI authorized, so it\u2019s important to do your homework on these or other providers before signing up and paying for training courses. Also, pay attention to whether courses are available virtually anywhere as some may require physical attendance, which may not be an option for you.\n\nHow you can prepare for the exam\n\nPMI offers these suggestions to ensure you have adequately prepared for the exam.\n\nIt\u2019s important to establish a daily study schedule to help you keep on track, as this greatly enhances your chances of passing the PMP exam. Set aside study time on your calendar for each day, and organize your study materials so that they are ready to go when you are. You should also set weekly study goals that are reasonable, taking into account the amount of material you hope to cover each week, and select a suitable location to study. Studying in a place where you feel energized and can concentrate is critical to your success.\n\nIt\u2019s also worthwhile getting support from your family, friends, and co-workers. Make sure they understand why becoming PMP-certified is so important to you and why you need to devote some time away from household or social obligations to prepare for the exam.\n\nPMP exam preparation resources\n\nThere are numerous other resources available to help you prepare for the PMP exam. Because everyone has different preferences for learning, here are several options to explore:\n\nThe PMBOK Guide: Some people pass the exam using this essential resource alone. While you can use it in conjunction with other materials, exam prep books, prep courses, and workshops, it is a must-have to be successful.\n\nPMP exam prep books: Prep books strive to explain the PMBOK Guide in plain English, systematically take you through its concepts, provide you tips about what to expect, and may also offer some sample questions.\n\nPMP exam prep workshops: If you prefer a classroom setting and need one-on-one interaction, this is a good option. It is important to confirm that your instructor is PMP-certified and that the presentations are based on the current PMBOK Guide and current exam.\n\nOnline PMP exam prep workshops: This option tends to be less expensive than in-person workshops. Some online prep courses may be self-paced and others may be a bootcamp style that delivers content at a very rapid pace.\n\nDownloadable PMP exam prep videocasts: PMP exam prep videocasts are portable, powerful learning tools that reinforce concepts from the PMBOK Guide through audio-visual training. You can download them to a mobile device so that you can study on the go.\n\nOnline PMP exam simulators: These practice exams help you get a feel for the exam setup and environment. They present you with the same style of questions you'll find on the PMP exam so you can get comfortable with the pressure and timing associated with the exam.\n\nFlash cards: Flash cards are tried, tested, portable, and cost-effective. You can create your own or purchase them. The benefit of using flashcards is that you can have someone test you on them. They work well if you know someone who is also studying for the exam and you both want to test one another on the material.\n\nTips for acing the PMP exam on the first try\n\nIn addition to taking PMI\u2019s advice for studying, the following tactics will help make sure you are amply prepared to pass the exam on your first try:\n\nMaintaining your PMP credentials\n\nQualifying for the PMP and preparing for the exam can be time-consuming but well worth the effort. But passing the exam is only the beginning. PMI requires certification holders to follow PMI\u2019s \u201cContinuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program and earn professional development units (PDUs).\u201d This amounts to paying the annual membership renewal fee, and earning and reporting 60 PDUs every three years.\n\nThere are many ways to earn free PDUs and hundreds of resources that offer them. One of the most rewarding ways is to earn free PDUs is by volunteering at your local PMI chapter. Another great way to earn free PDUs is by listening to project management-related podcasts.\n\nMake sure that you read about the five categories of PDUs as outlined in the PMP Credential Handbook. There are some limits on the number of PDUs you can claim from each category.\n\nDocumenting your PDUs\n\nYou can document your PDUs online using PMI\u2019s Continuing Credential Requirements System (CCRS).\n\nPMI offers a PMP Credentials Handbook as well as additional information on how to maintain your certification and how to earn and report PDUs to help you remain in good standing.\n\nThree years may seem like a long time, but it will pass in the blink of an eye. Don't wait until year three to start accumulating PDUs. Once you've earned your PMP certification, set out a three-year plan to accumulate your PDUs consistently over the next 36 months.