PMP Certification: Expectations vs. Reality

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PMI PMP is one of the most successful certifications in the project management profession. However, you can have erroneous expectations about this. Many consider it as a booster to their salary and job offers. But the actual advantages are different.
I also had the wrong expectations. But I corrected them quite fast. Here is how it was.
To keep up with the demands of the employers, I regularly go to interviews. I do it even if I do not plan to change the job. It helps to stay in good shape, find new networking opportunities, and track the demands of the skill set.

So just after I got my certification, I went on a job hunt. I went through different companies in different countries. I’ve tried various professional levels, even the lowest. I also went outside of software development.
I should note that it was a period of economic decline. Anyway, I got invited to three interviews in two weeks.
In summary, I was somewhat disappointed. The certificate itself had no demand on the market.

Immediately afterwards, I was determined to justify the efforts and the money expended on the certification. Frankly, the experience was positive. The actual benefits of the PMP PMP that I have discovered are much more valuable.

How Does PMI Position PMP Certification?

“The Project Management Professional (PMP)® is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers.” says the Project Management Institute.

As a result, it is globalized and recognized by the industry. So it certifies that you are capable of managing a project in any industry and any country. But this does not mean that all organizations throughout the world apply PMI processes and procedures.

Remember that, you will learn about a universal project management approach. So, it may not be efficient in all cases. Moreover, it might not be compatible with the policies and procedures of a performing organization.

So, here is my interpretation of the certification.

It certifies that you are capable of selecting and applying best practices to manage a project of any size and complexity in any environment.

Therefore, you will learn about the great diversity of processes, tools, and techniques. The majority of them may not be practically applicable in your case.

It is something that frustrated me a lot in the beginning.

You will find out a lot of useful ways to manage a project. But there will be many valid reasons why you can’t apply them in your organization.

The promise of a Better Salary

“The PMP also increases your earning potential. PMP Certification holders earn 20 percent more than their non-certified peers according to Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition.” – Another quote from PMI’s site.

But I would correct it to say there is no factual data to prove it.

PMI PMP certificate sends a strong signal to employers that you are serious about your professional development. Moreover, you have a required set of theoretical knowledge.

However, in practice, everyone is only interested in your current experience, skills, and achievements. Theoretical knowledge is an excellent addition. But it doesn’t guarantee that you are capable of solving real-life problems and conflicts.

Additionally, expectations from PMP certification holders towards abilities are much higher.

So, the PMI PMP certificate can provide you 1-2 additional interview opportunities. However, only your experience, skills, and achievements will secure you a job offer.

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pMP certification value / Benefits

What are the true benefits of PMP certification?

Here are the three that I believe are the most important.

1. It is an Achievement

Take a look at the prerequisites:

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education


  • Four-year degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

In addition to that, you need to prepare to and successfully pass the exam. 200 multiple-choice questions and four hours to complete it.

If you do all that, you can be proud of yourself. It will boost your confidence. It will teach you to think bigger and dream for more.

2. Strong Self-Education Momentum

You just can’t stop learning. After much effort to prepare for the exam, you will have the momentum to learn even more. It will be easy.

Additionally, you will now need to maintain your certification by Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program. It will replace your self-accountability system.

There will be clear goals and necessity to read just another work-related book.

3. PMI Community

In fact, you can become a part of a community without the certificate. You just need to get a PMI Membership. It costs $130 a year. And I believe it is worth every cent.

It will give you access to Local PMI Chapters. They are aimed at improving the project management profession in your area. And usually, they are aligned with your local realities. It is a great source of knowledge sharing, networking, and professional development.

Additionally, you will get your free copy of the PMBOK® Guide and access to the resources of

Even if you do not plan to get the certificate right now, I would suggest you join PMI anyway.

As you can see, the major benefits relate to your personal and professional development. In the long run, they stack up into considerable achievements. You can then present these achievements to acquire a better job and salary.

PMI PMP certificate is worth the effort. However, don’t get derailed by marketing pitches. The true value is different.

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