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PMP Certification: Why Industry Expertise Matters

Insights / 07.02.2021
Alyssa Hedington / Associate Business Manager

Historically, a college degree has been viewed as a necessary step to becoming a qualified candidate in the job market; many companies were beginning to include higher education such as a master’s degree as a preference for applicants. Of course, there are some professions where this is non-negotiable: doctors need an M.D., lawyers need a J.D., and so on. But in a world where a four-year degree has become mandatory, there’s been a growing focus toward another form of higher education – industry certifications and credentials. 

The accreditations within industries reflect an individual’s desire to become a “master” of their craft. This became obvious as soon as I entered the professional world. When I first joined the Project Management team at Red Door, I immediately felt a sense of admiration towards my co-workers with the letters ‘PMP’ presented confidently beside their name in email signatures, LinkedIn titles, and business cards. But at the time, I had little understanding of the significance of these letters, even as a professional in the industry myself. 

What is the PMP?  

Project Management Institute (PMI) is ‘the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession.’ With over 50 years of operational experience, this organization supports 2.9 million Project Managers worldwide through continued education, networking opportunities, and access to tools and resources to effectively do their job. Among these are eight professional certifications, one of which is the gold standard for project management – the Project Management Professional (PMP). 

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the globally recognized project management certification that, as stated by the PMI ‘validates your competence to perform in the role of a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams.’ The path to earning this certification is no small feat – an individual must first qualify to take the exam, which, if you have a 4-year degree, includes 4,500 hours of professional experience leading projects and 35 training hours specific to project management. Once an applicant meets these requirements and has been approved to take the exam, PMI estimates that they’ll need to spend roughly 35 hours preparing to pass.

On exam day, aspirants are tasked with answering 200 multiple choice questions in a 4-hour time block. These questions are situational-based and require test takers to think through the correct next step based on the circumstances outlined. In the answer choices provided, there will typically be more than one correct response listed, but the challenge is to select the best right answer. Those who have prepared successfully walk away with the ability to call themselves a certified PMP, while many (estimated to be 40-50%) must take their learnings and prepare for their second attempt at the exam. 

While I lacked knowledge of what this certification was prior to beginning my career, I was fortunate enough to land at an agency that not only values continuing education, but also has a goal for all its project managers to become PMPs. The encouragement and drive that Red Door fosters for continual growth is a key reason we have such a qualified team of PMP-certified Project Management experts. 

PMP Exam Content  

The rigor that comes with qualifying for and passing the PMP is a testament to the challenging nature of the Project Management role. From an outside perspective, it’s easy to call out the foundational skills of this profession – organization, attention to detail, and communication. However, the skillset of those in the role is evolving. The ability to communicate, coupled with attention to detail and organization, will always be indispensable for success. However, technical know-how for all the elements in project management differentiates those who simply want to finish a project from those who can apply the knowledge areas from the PMP to manage projects more effectively and efficiently. 

It is no surprise that scope, timeline, and budget management are all key topics within the PMP exam content. This is what many believe Project Managers focus on 24/7. What goes unnoticed is the amount of time PMs spend behind the scenes on projects to ensure the work is headed for success. Take risk management, for example. This is a key pillar within the PMP curriculum that many fail to realize is part of a Project Manager’s role. Being skilled in risk management means going far beyond the ability to manage issues when they arise. When proficient, an individual can look at a project from the onset and proactively identify risks that may occur, and create risk mitigation plans that allow risks to be avoided altogether. 

Other management focus areas within the PMP curriculum include: 

  • Managing conflict 

  • Leading a team 

  • Emotional intelligence and soft skills 

  • Communication 

  • Quality 

  • Change management 

  • Agile methodology

  • Scope, budget, and timeline management 

Benefits of Project Management  

Many organizations don’t prioritize Project Management, often leaving the responsibility to those who don’t specialize in actual “project management” to tackle the role. This causes pain points across the team(s) involved and, in return, likely costs the organization more money to run the project due to misalignment, rework, and inefficient project management. Another consequence of not utilizing trained project managers is the stress that comes with mismanaged projects. These situations often bring chaos and disorganization into the workplace, leaving employees lacking clarity on what’s required to be successful and negatively impacting both employee morale and retention.

At Red Door, we recognize this, which is why we have prioritized formal training and education for our Project Management team and include Project & Program Management as fundamental components of delivering great work. For our clients, this means they have an expert in the industry managing their marketing program, ensuring the successful and timely delivery of all project work within set budgets. 

Curious to learn more about how our PMP-certified team can support your goals? Let’s chat

 

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