Is the PMP® Credential a Job Requirement?

From its inception in 1984, the PMP® credential has become quite common within the project management profession, with over a half million practitioners having now obtained it throughout the world.

The importance can’t be overstressed. In various U.S. government agencies over the years, project managers with decades of experience have in some cases suddenly been faced with the message that in order to keep the jobs they had performed for decades, they must obtain the PMP credential before a specified deadline.

Why would this happen?

We’ve all heard the clichés “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.” As a project manager, you must “walk the talk.” What does that mean?

Both proficiency in skills and the ability to be understood are indispensable in the project management process. An example can illustrate.

Consider the term “threat” used in risk management. Even to professionals with decades of experience in the largest of corporations, the term can be radically misunderstood. The author knows of one case where a seasoned professional, formerly with one of the world’s largest corporations, believed that it meant the expression of intent to harm, when the accepted global project management definition refers to something that may prevent the full achievement of project objectives.

It gets worse. The definition of the term “risk” itself is remarkably different, depending on whether the context is the financial services industry or another realm.

Project business cannot be conducted without waste and confusion when project team members don’t have a common understanding of what they speak.

This aspect alone is one of the single greatest advantages PMPs enjoy and a primary reason why the credential and the PMBOK Guide® were created – the ability to communicate effectively with global teams using a commonly understood language. This is to say nothing of the extensive set of processes that can be applied to practically every situation encountered by project managers.

Little wonder, then, that some government agencies have demanded certification for their project managers.

Demand for PMPs

Undeniably one of the premier credentials for project management, reliable gauges of PMP demand have not appeared on an annual basis. In 2005 the PMP credential was in a fourth-place tie in’s 10 Hottest Certifications for 2006. December 2008 saw the credential ranking number 7 on ZDNet’s list of the 10 best certifications for information technology professionals.

More recently in 2013, Global Knowledge ranked the credential number one among the 15 top-paying certifications, with an average pay of $105,750. The paper goes on to describe it as globally acknowledged and heavily sought-after by corporations and individuals.

PMI’s Worldwide View of Employment and Salaries for PMP

Project management brings focus and discipline to business. PMI’s claim in recent years that project management would play an increasingly crucial role in tighter economic times has proven true. In the January 2013 issue of PMI’s PM Network, Sarah Fister Gale reports:

“The global economy remains in flux, and with it, the project job landscape. But project professionals in the right geographic areas, with the right skills, in the right sectors have a distinct edge. India, for example, estimates it needs 3 million more project managers by 2017, according to The Economic Times. In the United States, Wanted Analytics found that online job listings that showed demand for project management skills hit a four-year high in 2012 – even in a still sputtering economy.”

Notable from PMI’s survey of worldwide project manager salaries published on their website and entitled 10 Countries with the Highest Salaries for Project Managers:

  1. Median annualized salaries in 2011 ranged from US$160,000 in Switzerland to US$105,000 in the United States and US$91,109 in New Zealand. Across 29 countries, the median salary was US$92,000.
  2. Mark Kwandrans, PMP of Merchants Insurance Group in Buffalo, N.Y., states, “Before I was certified, I had trouble finding work and was unemployed for a bit. Since getting certified, I have had no problem staying employed.”
  3. Jan Cardol, CEO, PMI Netherlands Chapter and project manager, Cardol Consulting B.V., Capgemini, Netherlands, states, “The job environment in general in the Netherlands is under pressure, but project management as a profession is thriving.”
  4. Backing up the assertion that the PMP credential is a near necessity if not entirely a sufficient prerequisite for being hired, Kris Troukens, PMP, president, PMI Belgium Chapter and Director at Kindermans, Troukens & Associates, Brussels, Belgium, remarks, “If the recruiter has a choice between multiple candidates, it’s the certified person who will get the job. And this is likely to remain the case for several years to come.”