PMI project managersAs a part of every issue of PMI Today, the Project Management Institute‘s monthly newsletter published as a supplement to PM Network magazine, PMI features a small section called PMI Fact File which features statistics about the number of PMI members, new members acquired, number of active CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) or PMP (Project Management Professional) certified individuals, the number of PMBOK guides in publication, unique visitors to the website, and the total number of PMPs worldwide. While the PMI Fact File takes up less than one third of a page in a newsletter of several dozen pages, I find it to be some of the most interesting material in the newsletter, and I often read it first.

Because I’m nerdy like that I thought it would be interesting to create a chart of some of the information contained in the PMI Fact File and to figure out the growth rate of PMI membership and PMP certification internationally. I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else online (though I’m sure it exists somewhere) so it is new and interesting information to me.

Note that this information is up to date as of this month; the information in the PMI Fact File is always two months behind the publishing date of the newsletter. So, for example, the newsletter for July of 2010 contains Fact File information for the month of May, up to and including May 31, 2010. Also, for some reason July’s Fact File didn’t include the number of new PMI members for the month of May; you might think it’s the total number of PMI members for the month of May less the total number of PMI members for the month of April, but you’d be wrong – for some reason the calculation doesn’t quite work out that way!

Total PMI members and PMP certifications worldwide


The total number of PMI members and PMP certifications worldwide 



The first thing that I noticed about this chart is that the numbers don’t quite work. In October of 2009 it appears that PMI suddenly lost 14,092 PMPs (nearly 4% of the total number of PMPs at the time). As this figure takes into account PMP certified project managers and not necessarily members of PMI (which is taken into account in the total number of PMI members figure), something is likely amiss with PMI’s calculations.

New PMI members and new PMPs





What I immediately noticed about this chart is that in June of 2009 PMI gained 13,920 new PMPs, while during the next month, July of 2009, PMI only gained 689 new PMPs! This appears to be a huge miscalculation on PMI’s part, but I do not believe that this is the case; I remember that, in light of the introduction of the 4th edition PMBOK, the deadline for testing on the 3rd edition of the PMBOK was set as June 30th of 2009. This means that a massive group of PMP hopefuls took their certification examinations during the months of May and June while they were still eligible to test on 3rd edition materials. In July of 2009 there was a lack of information – and confidence – about the new test and testing materials (it is perceived as risky to test on brand new material, and certification exams aren’t cheap), and therefore many fewer people took the certification and/or passed the new test during that month.


Where PMP certification is concerned, from May of 2009 to May of 2010 there has been a growth rate of over than 11% as the total number of certified PMPs rose from 346,053 to 385,096. As such, there are more than 11% (but not quite 12%) more PMP certified individuals managing projects this year than there were in 2009. For a single year’s growth that is a pretty impressive figure and certainly does indicate that project management is a profession that is growing in popularity and importance.

PMI membership grew from 307,180 in May of 2009 to 317,989 in 2010; this is a 3.5% increase. This takes into account the fact that project managers are both joining and leaving the PMI organization. This figure also takes into account many individuals who are not PMP certified; they may be CAPM certified, in the process of being certified, or not certified at all with no plans to become so. In comparison with the PMP certification statistic, this PMI membership statistic illustrates that while project managers are being certified at a high rate (11%), the addition of new project managers is somewhat offset by people leaving the organization, or passing away.

If you look at the chart comparing new PMI members against new PMP certification holders you’ll see that neither of these seem to be growing – the trends are stable. This shows that membership in PMI, and attainment of PMP certification, is growing, but at a constant rate; there is neither a marked increase in the number of PMI members worldwide, nor a dropoff – the number of new members of the organization and the number of people attaining its most popular certification are growing at a relatively constant rate. Overall these trends indicate good news, but not great news, for the Project Management Institute – steady but not explosive growth, and predictable behavior around the introduction of the new 4th edition PMBOK study materials.

I appreciate any comments or feedback about this analysis!