The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is becoming the de facto standard for project managers worldwide. Since being established in 1984 by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and up until now, more than 1,000,000 professionals hold this certification and many companies are requiring it when hiring project managers.
Becoming PMP certified is neither easy nor cheap. Before taking the decision of going through the exam, you should consider the cost of a PMP certification. When thinking about its cost, people often think of the exam fee, which is only one portion of the certification’s overall expenses. There are multiple elements that will add up to the PMP cost that every aspiring exam taker should anticipate and make provision for.
Along with the application and exam fees, there are multiple items to consider when you try to set up a budget for your PMP certification. The costs may include training fees plus any other additional preparation tools such as reference books and courses as well as exam practice tests or simulators.
If you are planning to take the PMP certification exam soon, and before you start with the application process, you need to have a clear idea about the estimated overall cost of getting PMP certified, and that’s the main purpose of this guide.
What does the PMP certification cost include? you may ask. Actually, there are three main elements to consider when weighing up the certification cost. The two most obvious elements are the cost of PMP training and the certification exam fee. The third element involves any additional preparation tools you might need such as reference books, online courses, exam simulators, or any resources you might think can be helpful during your exam preparation phase.
Let’s go over each of these elements in detail.
PMP training cost
In order to qualify for the PMP exam, a list of perquisites is required including earning 35 contact hours of project management education or training.
To earn the required contact hours for meeting the eligibility criterion and prepare for the exam, you can choose one of these training options:
- In-person classroom
- Live virtual
- Online courses
There are many service providers in the market that offer PMP exam training programs. There are various factors that will affect the training cost including training delivery method, location, training provider credibility, etc.
In-person classroom training, for instance, is conducted on a specific training location. The instructor runs the session on a predefined schedule so students have to be physically present at the pre-set location on the pre-set time. Generally, in-person training is the most expensive training format as it ranges from $250 up to $4,000.
An alternative to in-person training is live virtual training. Registered participants log in at a scheduled time for the training session via video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Webex, etc. This type of training is obviously cheaper than in-person training sessions, with an average cost of $250 USD to $2,000.
The third and most cheap option for PMP training is online self-learning courses. As the name suggests, students will get online access to the course materials (videos, documents, quizzes) entirely on-demand. The cost of such a training format is usually between $13 and $200.
Apart from the training format, the cost also varies based on your location. For instance, let’s say that you are looking for training in India. You will find multiple options of PMP training providers with a cost starting at 15.000 INR (approx. $200) whereas PMP training in the UK starts at 600 POUNDS (approx. $800).
PMP exam fees
When tackling PMP exam fees, there is one factor to take into account: your PMI membership status. By becoming a PMI member for $139, you can bring down the fee of the exam, which can be taken as a computer-based test (CBT) or paper-based test (PBT), from $405 to $555. Even though it is not necessary for you to become a PMI member to sit for your certification exam, it surely has its benefits.
Apart from the reduced exam fee, as a PMI member, you can download a free copy of the latest version of the PMBOK Guide from the PMI website along with other standards or guides published by PMI. This material is a must-read during your preparation in order to pass the exam. Non-members can either purchase an electronic version of the PMBOK for $58 or a print version for $67, both available on Amazon.
Further, you may take the PMP exam three times in the one-year eligibility period if you don’t pass the first time, but subsequent attempts have a cost of their own: $275 for PMI members whereas non-members need to pay $375 per re-examination.
PMP preparation resources
Going through PMP training and getting the PMBOK might not be enough to ensure your success on the first exam attempt. You may also want to invest in additional study guides and resources. Books, online courses, and mock exams will help you properly and thoroughly prepare for the exam. They too, however, come at a cost. Preparation books and online courses’ prices range from $13 to $100. Such study supplies involving flashcards, guides, notes…etc. will be among the most affordable elements of the PMP total cost, but they are a component that shouldn’t be forgotten when budgeting for your certification.
In addition to preparation books and courses, taking PMP mock exams plays a pivotal role in your preparation. Mock tests and practice simulators, such as the one I’m providing here, are a good resource to test your readiness as they will help you get a feel of the exam as well as testing your knowledge. These tools are available at a cost of $13 to $200.
Passed your PMP exam and got the certification? Great! But that’s not where the expenses end. You can’t stop your quest once you get your PMP certification. You also have to get your credentials renewed. So, every three years, you’ll have to pay a $150 renewal fee every three years in order to stay current. Once again, a PMI membership can reduce the cost from $150 to $60. However, PMI membership costs $129/year, so practically a PMI membership won’t help you save much if you’re thinking about becoming a member just to renew your PMP. In order to maintain your certification, you also have to earn 60 professional development units (PDU) every three years. A PDU equals one hour of attending a lecture at a PMI conference, reading a PMP-related book, or going through an online training program. The more affordable options, in this case, are podcasts, webinars, etc., which are often available for free. But, you can opt for paid educational programs which can range from about $25 to $100. A candidate can complete the renewal process at any point during their 3 years cycle, post-meeting of the PDU requirements by submitting the payment, no later than 90 days after the cycle end date.
In conclusion, you should know the full cost of the endeavor for a PMP certification before you move forward with it. This way, you can budget properly and won’t be surprised by any costs this process might require. Keep in mind that all of the mentioned costs above can vary from person to person and from country to country.
While some might think that the PMP certificate involves a lot of expenses, and might even argue if it’s worth it, there’s no denying that such a certification can give you a boost on the job market, ensuring that you’re paid competitively as it makes you a desirable candidate to businesses in need of project managers.
Images credit: Slidesgo and Freepik