How Becoming a PMP Can Improve One's Career

  • 14 January, 2022

Obtaining project management knowledge that you can readily apply to your current projects to make them more efficient seems rewarding enough, but the truth is you can leverage the PMP to enhance your career in many other ways. Below you'll learn more about what having a PMP says about you and how it can help you in the future:

How Becoming a PMP Can Improve One's Career

  1. IT IS WORLD RENOWNED: The PMP is one of the biggest certifications out there, and with more than one million certification holders worldwide, it is the authority in project management. The good news is that this certification is accepted not only by people in the US, but also from South America, Africa, and the Middle East. There are many certifications that involve project management practices, but no doubt the PMP is one of the most respected and recognized of them all. So go ahead, make your plans to move to Ecuador-your PMP certification is more likely to be recognized than your degree from the university you attended in Canada!

  2. IT SAYS YOU ARE A TEAM PLAYER: There are many stakeholders in projects, but not everyone is truly a team player. For example, many engineers are comfortable with technical aspects, but will leave anything other than engineering to the team. That is not inherently bad, but the reality is, more often than not, those same engineers will end up in managerial positions or responsible for team performance and project delivery. A PMP certification not only means that a person already has experience in project management, but also that they truly understand that both communication and team performance are critical to deliver a project.

  3. IT IMPLIES THAT YOU PLAN: This certification is focused on the idea that projects cannot start without a project plan. There are many tools that you will see a certified project manager use when planning projects: stakeholder registers, communication plans, quality control plans, risk registers, and issue logs are just some of the useful items that they will invoke when planning for a strong project foundation.

  4. IT HAS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS: The exam has evolved from being a questionnaire about the PMBOK and shifted its focus to Agile approaches. In essence, Agile is an incremental and iterative approach. Project managers are thought to be coaches, or leaders-someone who makes the team perform better by training and by removing obstacles, unlike the classic "boss" who just dictates directions. The exam also has evolved to center on real project management situations: more of "what would you do if" questions that render it a more practical exam.

  5. IT IS A GATEWAY TO OTHER CERTIFICATIONS: The CCM® (Certified Construction Manager) can be considered a type of project management position within construction: so having your PMP is like having one foot already through the door. There are many other project management certifications, like Scrum Master, so a great starting point is the PMP.

  6. IT IS A REQUIREMENT FOR MANY PROJECT MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: If you are an engineer, you will know the Professional Engineer (PE) license is a requirement for many engineering positions, especially for senior ones. The PMP is analog for project management positions, which is oftentimes the natural evolution of an engineers' career. Companies that are hiring are likely to list "PMP certification" as one of their non-negotiable items.

  7. IT IS NOT EASY: Although there are more than a million holders, this certificate is not easy to obtain, which is why it still holds such a respectable status. Passing the exam ultimately requires real exposure to project management as well as hours of study. These time and effort commitments help ensure that those who earn certification are truly dedicated.

  8. IT IS A PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION: As I said before, this certificate reflects well on roles like an engineer because it shows they can get out of their technical comfort zone. An engineer with a PMP demonstrates someone who is going above and beyond to help deliver projects more efficiently. This certificate will attract employers who are looking to promote engineers to managerial positions.

  9. IT DOESN'T JUST LOOK GOOD ON PAPER-IT WORKS IN REAL LIFE: The PMP does not only look good on a resume, but it also helps you in real life. The PMP talks about optimization of projects: it introduces important concepts such as project baseline and the tools to plan projects correctly. Projects that are planned correctly have a better chance to stick to the baseline in both cost and schedule, but just in case, the PMP also provides the tools to deal with changes and guidance on how to be effective when communicating with a team and stakeholders. The knowledge that you learn to earn this certificate will be applied to your future projects, which will attract positive attention.

  10. IT TEACHES YOU ABOUT SCHEDULING: Because the exam is heavily based on scheduling questions, you will learn CPM (Critical Path Method) techniques like laying out tasks, assigning task durations, understanding the relations among tasks, and creating a project schedule. These are all fundamental procedures for project managers to understand, because only then can they explain to stakeholders how to adhere to certain constraints and get a project delivered under contractual dates.

  11. IT TEACHES YOU ABOUT COST MANAGEMENT: The idea of associated costs may be not straightforward to some project team members (sarcastic comment, but you know who you are!), but it is one of the most important components for a project manager to track. Cost, alongside schedule, make up what is called a project baseline. A baseline might be threatened throughout the duration of a project by issues, which are events that affect schedule, cost, or quality. It's impossible to filter out all issues from a project, but it is possible to have a process in place to mitigate them and keep the baseline intact, or to initiate a change control program that would modify the project baseline in a manner that all project stakeholders agree with.

  12. IT TEACHES YOU ABOUT QUALITY CONTROL: The PMP focuses on having a quality control plan for every phase of a project. Quality focuses on deliverables satisfying a project's scope and standards, as well as the client. It's easy to understand the importance of quality by asking yourself, what happens if a project lacks quality? What happens if we deliver a product or service that does not meet standards? Well, firstly, costs can be greatly affected, because we could end up using unplanned resources to reproduce the product or service again. Even worse, we can have our reputation affected, which can affect our capability to obtain new business. Not every product or service requires the highest standards of quality, but there is always a minimum given either by project scope, by the organization standards, or both.

  13. IT TEACHES YOU ABOUT RISK MANAGEMENT: One of the key responsibilities of a project manager is to plan for potential issues. How can someone prepare for something that has not happened yet? It is not easy, but a risk register, as part of a risk management plan, is a good start. A risk register is a document on which a project manager and team members can jot down ideas about scenarios that can affect a project schedule, cost and/or quality. Project managers may not be able to think about every scenario possible, but they can use historical performances from previous projects or taken from industry data, or they can have input from experts. Whatever the source, the most important goal of a risk management plan is categorizing these potential events by assigning them with a risk score. The risk score is based on how likely the event is to happen as well as what the impact of the event is. The most popular way to address issues is by having a mitigation plan, which helps keep tasks on track and makes sure identified potential issues do not happen.

  14. IT WILL TEACH YOU THAT CHANGE HAPPENS-AND THAT'S OKAY: Changing a project baseline-either in cost, schedule, or scope-is never easy, but it can be made easier if there are effective practices in place. A Change Control Board is mentioned throughout the PMBOK as a potential role in organizations. It can take other names or be part of the responsibilities of other team members, but the fundamental idea is that there is overview of the reasons for change as well as a coherent plan to address change, and these ideas are both communicated ahead of time. Strong communication is important when dealing with changes.

  15. IT WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO MANAGE COMMUNICATION: Communication is what delivers projects. It's what create synergies-and an omission of or reduction in communication can lead to project failure. The PMP underlines the importance of communication: it talks about a stakeholder register where all stakeholders (people that have any kind of involvement in a project) are defined, and introduces the concept of a communication plan, which describes how to talk with each stakeholder. It's different to talk to a team member from your organization than it is to talk to a private client or a public representative. Each person and organization will have different ways and frequencies in which they prefer to be engaged, and this will be shown in a contract or determined by a project manager to maximize opportunity benefits. When project managers master communication within their teams, it increases the likelihood of that project sailing smoothly skills.

I highly recommend you pursue boosting your career with a PMP certificate! With time and effort, you will be able to master these skills and begin applying them effectively.

About the Author: Alejandro Uribe, PE, PMP, CCM, SET, CFPS

Alejandro got his strong process approach from Industrial Engineering (B.A.), his vocation in Construction Management (M.S. from NYU), and his real passion in Fire Protection (P.E.), where he continues to provide complex solutions to Fortune 500 Companies and critical federal projects. Alejandro is currently an engineering manager at M.C. Dean, a prime contractor, where he is the supervisor and technical lead for a team of over 12 engineers, and is responsible for creating and maintaining processes, including knowledge management and project management foundations.

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