What's the Story Behind Your PMP Certification?

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Long-time Voices on Project Management blogger Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP shares how attaining a PMP certification helped his career.

Project management practitioners like me, with more than 20 years of experience, learned about PMI and the PMP® certification in ways much different from today. 

My first exposure to PMI, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and PMP certification was in the late 1990s. It was during a training program to attain PMP certification -- and in Spanish, no less -- at the company I worked for in Puebla, Mexico. 

My colleagues and I questioned the benefits of this certification, which at the time was not well known in Mexico. In addition, the written exam was in English. That did not make the PMP more attractive. 

I left the company before taking the exam. Yet in my new job, I discovered that the knowledge I acquired in the training program was very helpful. Without prompting, I used some of the best practices in the PMBOK® Guide, especially those related to risk and project integration.

As I progressed professionally, I moved to the United States and learned more about PMI chapters and global congresses. I became a member and a regular at chapter meetings. 

By this point -- even with eight years of practical experience in project management and applying best practices in my work -- I realized I needed to take it to the next level: earning PMP certification. Sure, professional experience and on-the-job-training are important -- but I was only recognized for that at my company. Attaining the PMP meant that the world's largest association for the profession would validate my professional experience. 

In the lead-up to my exam, I was traveling intensively for my job, and the PMBOK® Guide became my travel companion. While abroad, I visited local PMI chapters and learned about running projects in different settings. The interaction with members of PMI chapters in other countries helped me tweak my project plan. The combination of studying and exchanging ideas with practitioners internationally were fundamental for my PMP exam preparation.

In December 2005, I attained my PMP -- and I have never regretted it. Achieving the certification brought me immediate benefits. After I notified my manager, he awarded me an incentive bonus. A week later, I was selected to lead one of the most challenging projects of the portfolio. 

Over the years, I also became more involved in my community, volunteering at events such as PMI item-writing sessions. In 2011, I was honored with the 2011 PMI Distinguished Contribution Award. I'm not saying that getting my PMP awarded me recognition and experience overnight, but I needed it to get to the next stage in my career.

I still find project professionals who think the same as my colleagues and I did in the late 1990s. The most frequent questions I hear are: Why should I earn a certification or a credential, if I am a senior project manager with many years of experience? How does a certification or credential make me different? 

To these, I respond with a question (Why not step out of your comfort zone?) and a thought (What made you successful in the past will not make you successful today).

The truth is that, just like doctors, project professionals need to update their knowledge to face the challenges in today's project world. PMP certification and PMI membership give you access to share and acquire project management knowledge, stay up to speed on new trends, and join a group of global volunteers contributing toward the advancement of the profession. Most importantly, certification helps you reach the next step in your professional life. At least that is what it has done for me.

How did getting a PMP help your career? Are you still considering getting one, and why?

Posted by Conrado Morlan on: January 15, 2013 10:26 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Kathi Soniat
The PMP has made a big difference in my career. I started as a developer and as I progressed in my then 13-year career ran many projects in the "accidental" mode. Then I spent 8 years as a stay-at-home mom. I was able to return to my career, but at a much lower responsibility level. I had been hired onto a 2-year project team where we were to implement 15 projects for the company. I enjoyed this so much I looked into getting the PMP credential. After the project team disbanded I was incorporated into the IT department, but was looking for more challenging work. As soon as I earned the PMP, the doubts about my 8-year hiatus completed disappeared and I was sought after as a project manager, sometimes by the same recruiters who were not interested in speaking to me previously. The other effort that truly helped my career was becoming involved in my local chapter. Before earning my PMP I began attending monthly meetings and volunteered to help run the annual symposium. Due to that experience I was asked to join the board as an interim member when a position came open mid-year. I was soon voted in permanently. The comraderie and support of the chapter was key during the time I was working toward my PMP. I was not fulfilled at work then, but found fulfillment and appreciation in the chapter.

Ayodeji Rex Abitogun PMP
God write up Monla. Earning PMP has impose confidence on me and has fetch me more money. It has equally expose me to lots of projects. The value is enormous

Nealand Lewis, MBA, CICA, PMP
Jim Brandon from Charlotte, NC once stated the "PMP is not job security, it is career security". In the midst of a global recession, certified project managers have faired better in the job search. In fact the unemployment rate in the PM industry is significantly lower than the national average. I have enjoyed working as a consultant in the finance and banking community and have worked consistently throughout depressed economic times. I am convinced the God has granted me favor and securing my degree and certification made a huge difference. Not having a certification or degree makes securing that next opportunity more problematic. The experienced candidate with proper credentials is seen as more employable than someone without a degree, PMP, or experience. How to get experience?? Contact your local Project Management office, attend chapter sponsored events, and get plugged in by joining and volunteering. I have been plugged in since 2000 and have enjoyed every moment - you will too! Also check out the PMI Education Foundation. It's PMI's philanthropic arm that provides countless scholarships for those qualifying. The best investment you can make is in your professional development. Why not join PMI and get certified today? Go to www.pmi.org for more info.

Jessica Holmes
I am in the process of earning my PMP certification and found your post, as well as everyone's comments, to be very inspiring. Thank you!

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