Do I have enough work experience to take the PMP exam?

Calculating PMP work experienceI get asked a lot of questions on this site (which I am always happy to answer)! By far the most common question I am asked is:

Do I have enough work experience to take the PMP exam?

In order to apply to take the PMP examination, applicants need to have acquired 4,500 hours of professional work experience leading and directing projects. This doesn’t necessarily mean “work as a project manager”, but the Project Management Institute (PMI) wants their PMP-certified project managers to at least have experience working in all five PMI process groups before applying to take the PMP examination.

When I am asked the question, it is usually accompanied by an amount of time someone has worked at a position – three years experience, for example. Many times the person is not technically a “project manager”, but does fulfill some of the project management roles in his or her organization. A lot of times the person has no project management experience at all.

The thing is, it’s pretty much impossible for me to say “yes, you have enough experience,” or “no, you don’t”. I don’t know what aspiring PMP applicants do during their day to day jobs, or how many hours per day they spend doing it. It’s up to the person who is applying to the exam to figure out for his or herself whether or not he or she has met the work experience requirements to apply to take the PMP examination.

So here is what I recommend doing:

Entering PMP work experience

  1. Make an educated guess whether or not you realistically have enough project management work experience to meet the 4,500 hour requirement. If you are pretty sure you don’t, there’s no use going through the next steps. If you do, you’ll have to do the next steps anyway to report your work experience to PMI. If you think you might be pretty close, go ahead and take the next steps.
  2. Fill out a spreadsheet with your professional work experience leading and directing projects. You will notice I’ve linked to a spreadsheet that I have included for download on this site that you can use to accomplish this.
  3. Figure out whether or not you have the required work experience to sit for the PMP exam. If you do, you’re good to go! You can apply to take the exam, and file your work experience as required on PMI’s PMP application form. If not, you can look for ways to get project management work experience without having PMP certification.

It makes me happy to receive questions on this site, and I try to be as helpful as I can, but I just can’t see into anyone’s day to day work life to figure out whether or not they’ve got the proper work experience to get PMP certified. So if you’re wondering whether or not you do, go ahead and find out! Just remember that the work experience has to be 4,500 hours of professional work experience leading and directing projects – simply “working on projects” that are managed by other people won’t do.

Good luck!

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4 Responses to “Do I have enough work experience to take the PMP exam?”

  1. Hi, Brian:

    Very helpful website. Although I had verbally described the experience requirement and process for the PMP application to my former employer previously and received the go ahead, it looks as though they may not see it the same way on paper. My application was selected for audit.

    Do you know if I can convert a PMP application to a CAPM application rather than being subject to the one year suspension? At this point, I would rather that my study and preparation at least nets me a CAPM certification until I can get the 4,500 experience requirement satisfied.


    • Hello Jack,

      I do not think you can “convert” a PMP application to a CAPM application per se .That said, if you have already passed your experience requirement and process by your former employer, and they said that they would vouch for the hours of professional project management work experience that you have accumulated, are you not able to go ahead and have the PMI audit done? The audit is not a scary process if you have legitimately earned the 4,500 hours of professional experience leading and directing projects (which I’d assume you have done if you’ve passed your hours by your employer).

      Best of luck to you with however you choose to proceed.

  2. Hi Brian, great blog!

    I have been working as a consultant in “Big 4” (KPMG, EY, PwC, Deloitte) companies for about 7 and half years now (divided in 03 companies, in 03 different countries), as senior (not internal audit manager) within the Risk Advisory services, i.e., Internal Audit, Compliance, Internal Controls.
    All the engagements I take part are actual projects, but I am not sure if the PMI would consider my experience, by the type of work I perform and features of the profession/company as valid for proof of experience, as I do not have any close contact within my professional network that holds a PMP certification.
    In case you are familiar with PMP candidates that have been in the same position as I am, could you please share your thoughts on the best approach / strategy to validate my experience?

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About the Author

Website: Brian Crawford
I'm a Canadian and British dual citizen with an internationally-focused American MBA and an MS in International Project Management from a French business school. I am PMP, ScrumMaster, and ITIL Foundation certified. I'm particularly into travel, writing, and learning about different languages and cultures.