To PMP® or to Not PMP® – That is the
By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP®,
Chief Cheetah and Founder of Cheetah Learning, and Kristen Medina,
Should I get it now, or should I wait
until I have more time to study? What if I study and I don’t pass,
and wasted all that time for nothing? Will having it actually impact
my career, or will there be no change?
These are the questions that run
through one’s mind when deciding to become PMP certified or not.
They are normal. And they are very good questions.
At first, I wanted to write this
month’s Know How Network article on why you should get your PMP
(because I believe that in most cases, it can only help you in your
career and in your life). But isn’t that so typical? Me, the CEO of
a training company that profits from people earning their PMPs,
writing an advocacy article about how great the PMP is? How
authentic is that?
So instead, I want to focus on
arguments that I have seen out there lately about why having your
PMP does not matter, and why taking an exam prep class is a bad
idea, and address those. Here we go!
Reasons Why You Should Not Earn Your
Reason: Maintaining Your PMP is time
consuming to keep active.
When you earn your PMP credential, you do not just join a Fraternity
or Sorority in which all that is required is an initial energy dump
and then you are a member for life.
The PMP credential signifies that you
are a member of an elite and professional organization that is
characterized by each member’s dedication to Project Management and
their commitment to continue learning and growing in their
profession. This is why to continue being a PMP, you are required
to earn 60 hours of professional development over three years.
(there are all types of ways to earn these 60 hours of
The more effort required from you to
maintain your PMP credential, the more emphasis and goodwill is
placed on having your PMP. And it is the people who hold the PMP
credential the longest who are the highest PM earners in their
Reason: Getting your PMP is expensive.
Not earning your PMP is expensive. The
cost to of the PMP exam is $405 if you’re a PMI member and $555 for
nonmembers. PMPs typically earn $10,000 more a year than their
non-PMP counterparts. This means that in just one month you more
than paid for the cost of the exam due to your increase in salary.
Also as mentioned above, the longer you keep your PMP, the more
your salary increases.
Not having a PMP can also be expensive
in the lost opportunity costs associated with not being considered
for a job or promotions simply because you do not have your PMP.
Those are immeasurable, but we have heard it time and time again
(read this short story for just one example -
http://blog.cheetahlearning.com/?p=665): having the PMP
credential helps people get in the door so that they have a chance
at the job of their dreams.
Reason: Just because you earn your PMP
doesn’t mean you are a good PM.
Just because you have your license
doesn’t mean you are a good driver. But if you don’t have your
license, you can’t drive – period.
More and more jobs are not even
considering someone who is not PMP certified. Why? Because the
reasons to earn your PMP far outweigh any excuse you may have to not
earn your PMP. So when a prospective employer looks at your resume,
and sees the potential for a PMP but not the actual credential, this
will raise a red flag as to why you didn’t go that extra mile to
show dedication to your profession.
The bottom line is that while the PMP
can only say so much about your PM skill level – it says a whole lot
about your character and your dedication to your personal and
professional growth, which does matter when you are looking to
change jobs or move up in your organization.
Reasons Why You
Should Not Take a PMP Exam Prep Course
Reason: Exam Prep courses focus on
To pass any exam, memorization is
required. As students in school, we know this. We had to memorize
all the chemicals on the table of elements to create it later on an
exam. We had to memorize all the capitals and states, and where they
were located on a map. And what did we get from all this
information? While not a perfect memory, I am guessing that most
adults today could tell me the capital of Virginia if I asked them,
or would know that Cu abbreviated Copper on the table of elements.
And we can thank memorization for this.
Memorization is an important part of
learning. The fact that you are memorizing does not mean that you
are not learning – it is a deeper form of learning that is
ingraining the information in your brain so that you can reference
it later, and is absolutely crucial to passing the PMP exam.
Reason: Exam prep courses just focus on
passing the exam.
It is called an Exam Prep course for a reason. If you wanted to
learn how to make your own home-style Italian meatballs – go to an
Italian meatball cooking class. If you want to learn how to pass a
specific exam and don’t want to spend months and months preparing,
go to and exam prep class that is focused on that one thing only:
passing the exam.
While I know this may sound harsh, the
reality is that time is a scarce resource. Most exam prep
institutions (ah hem, Cheetah Learning!) value learning beyond
obtaining your PMP credential, which is why we offer many PDU
courses that are geared toward extensive Project Management
learning. But by providing a direct service of allowing you to learn
what you need to know to pass the exam, we are providing a way to
take less of your scarce resources (time and money) and giving you
what you need (PMP credential).
So while you read over these and wonder
if the PMP credential is right for you, make the right decision for
you based on facts rather than emotional responses and go from
there. Best of luck.
About the Author:
Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a
penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder
Learning, the author of
Cheetah Success Series,
and a prolific
blogger whose mission
is to bring Project Management to the masses.
Cheetah Learning is a virtual
company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To
date, more than 50,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah
Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning
Recently honored by the
Project Management Institute (PMI®), Cheetah Learning was
named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI®
Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought
leader, Michelle was previously recognized by PMI as one of the 25
Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.
Michelle’s articles have
appeared in more than 100 publications and websites around the
world. Her monthly column, the
Know How Network,
is carried by over 400 publications.
She is a graduate of
the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management (OPM)
program and holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and
the University of Dayton.