Project Management

PMI Credentials: The Last Decade...and the Future

Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guideā€”Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites about leading teams and, which teaches project management for visual learners.

It's time to take a look at how the number of Project Management Institute credential holders has grown over the last 10 years--and speculate where they might go in the future. While 10 years is a good period to look back over, PMI’s PMP (Project Management Professional) credential dates back much further, to 1984--making it 31 years old this year.

Growth of the PMP was slow in the 1980s, partly due to the different communication methods being used then. The internet did not start becoming popular until the 1990s, so information about the PMP certification was shared mainly through periodic journals and newsletters. Another factor was the self-reinforcing nature of credentials. When credentials are new, few people outside of the originators have heard of them so there is little external incentive to get one. Slowly, people wanting to demonstrate their skills and/or distinguish themselves from their peers obtain the credential. Then, once it reaches a critical mass, hiring managers start asking for it so more people are motivated to obtain it and growth increases rapidly.

By the mid-’90s, the PMP credential was picking up steam. By 2004, our 10-year retrospective starting point, the PMP had more than 100,000 holders. By the end of 2014, this had grown to nearly 640,000 certificants and is by far the most popular credential offered by PMI.

During …

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