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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