The PMI® PMP® is touted as the go-to project management industry certification.

Although it is a common certification, it takes time and effort to prepare for and pass the exam. There is a reason it is considered the industry standard.

At Edwards, more than half of our employees hold their PMP® certification. We asked our project managers to provide real-world insight about prepping and taking the PMP exam. Four of our Program and Project Managers – Carolyn Eichhorn, Rebecca Duve, Rosa Linnear, and Sara Fontaine – discuss their experiences and the benefits of the PMP certification.

What do you think aspiring PMPs gain from an official prep course and exam?

Eichhorn: I actually went through a PMP® prep with my then-boss, so it was an opportunity to see beyond the title to a real human being that worked just as hard as I did to prepare for the exam. It’s helpful to remember that behind every PMP® is a wealth of diverse experience, hard work, and a level of perseverance and not just another project manager on paper.

Duve: The PMP® prep and exam enforced the importance of the PMBOK® Guide, essentially necessitating that I become very familiar with the contents. This knowledge has helped me to find things more easily when I need to reference something on the job.

What advice would you give someone who was looking to get their PMP® certification?

Linnear: Develop a plan for studying. Give yourself time to understand the PMI® way of project management not what is done in the real world. Learn the terms and definitions because doing so will put you at an 80% success rate for passing the exam.

Eichhorn: Be prepared to dedicate time to focus without distraction as there is a great deal of content to absorb and taking time for practice tests is crucial.

What were your preparation tactics? Were they effective? What would you do different?

Linnear: I found a study group, learned the terms and definitions, and re-quizzed myself every week to baseline my rate of preparedness.

Duve: I initially tried to study on my own with podcasts, reading the PMBOK® Guide from start to finish and then finding online exams. It took a while, but I finally figured out that a PMP® boot camp/prep class is necessary and not exactly optional. If I were to do it differently, I would take the prep class first and then supplement with any extra learning if I felt I still had gaps.

What were your preparation tactics? Were they effective? What would you do different?

Eichhorn: I did a five-day boot camp and then studied for about a month before taking the exam.

What was the best part of the PMP® prep class you took?

Eichhorn: The instructor was very clear that we were not there to learn how to project manage – we were there to prepare for the exam. Setting this expectation was critical as not all areas directly related to my specific role at the time, but all of it was necessary to be successful on the exam.

Duve: I think the daily quizzes were what I needed to pass the exam. It helped to reinforce the PMI testing style which up to that point I was unfamiliar with.

How have you been able to leverage your PMP® certification at Edwards to keep customers happy?

Duve: It is a highly requested certification on our federal contracts, so it helps to check that box. More importantly though, the training needed to achieve the certification makes my job conducting project management more systematic and I have the confidence to get the job done right.

Fontaine: Being able to use the technical jargon, and refer to project management theory allows the customer to feel confident in my knowledge.

Why did you choose to become a Certified Project Management Professional?

Linnear: A Vice President and project manager whom I worked with at a mutual funds/financial corporation told me I would be an excellent project manager. I had never heard of the PMP® before they acknowledged my skillset for managing projects.

Eichhorn: I chose to pursue the PMP® certification to broaden my career prospects and to take advantage of the educational support benefits my company provided.

Duve: I was already doing the work, but I wanted to learn how to do it better. I knew the certification would set me apart from others, but what I really needed was the standardized approaches that I hadn’t yet picked up on the job.

Fontaine: In truth, I had a boss who couldn’t advance my position unless I had the PMP® certification. In hindsight, I’m glad that forced me to get it, because it honestly opens doors.

What impact did the certification have on your career path?

Linnear: I received a $50k increase in my salary after I obtained my PMP®. Having my PMP® opened the door to many opportunities.

Eichhorn: Having the PMP® definitely opened doors that might not have been available to me otherwise. In addition, there is a community of respect and professional support among PMPs, both local and around the world.

Duve: It has allowed me to stand apart from other job applicants and it created the right environment for me to pursue additional certifications like the PMI-ACP®.

Fontaine: The PMP® opens doors. It allowed me to get jobs that otherwise would have not been available to me.

How did the certification prepare you for real-world project management situations?

Eichhorn: Different projects may require different approaches or solutions, beyond mere personal professional experience. The PMP® prepares project managers across a wider range of professional situations, so even if responsibilities shift, there are resources that can help fill experiential gaps.

Duve: I now know how to reference items in the PMBOK® Guide more easily such as when standing up a new project. I needed the prep class to help show the value of the Guide since we walked through the entire book throughout the course.

What have you done to continue honing your skills?

Duve: I collect PDU’s to maintain my certification through on the job training, webinars, PMI® Chapter meetings and reading articles that are geared towards topics important to my current projects. Learning never stops.

Fontaine: I really enjoy the webinars available through the PMI® website. The webinars are often about people taking pieces of that theory and applying it to the real world. It’s really helpful.

What is the best way to prepare for the PMP® exam?

Linnear: Read, apply. Read, apply. Read, Apply.

Eichhorn: I definitely feel that a focused prep course will save a great deal of frustration and wasted time and I can’t stress the need to practice exams enough, especially if test anxiety is an issue. You don’t know what you don’t know and it’s better to find out before getting to a testing center.

The PMP® delivers value far into your career so it’s worth the time, money, and investment. This singular certification shows employers you have the skills and experience to deliver value to any project.

The first step to earning your PMP is finding a training course that adequately prepares you for the exam. Edwards provides virtual instructor-led training, as well as in-person classroom training, that includes PMI-developed content to ensure it’s of the highest quality and standard. Check our training platform for the current course schedule.