pmp certification requirements/exam prerequisites

PMP (Project Management Professional) is one of the most coveted project management certification. It is eagerly sought after by experienced project managers across the world. The certificate is awarded to candidates who pass the PMP exam that is organized and conducted by PMI (Project Management Institute).

You need to satisfy certain minimum requirements in order to qualify for the PMP examination:

  1. Depending on your educational background, you need to have either 36 or 60 months of project management experience.
  2. You should have 35 contact hours of formal project management education/training.

Once you meet the above perquisites, you become eligible to apply for the PMI certification exam. In fact, all you need to ensure is that you meet the first requirement i.e you should have the requisite project management (PM) experience. If you have the required experience, you can easily get 35 hour certificate by attending a formal PMP training course.

Let me describe PMP certification requirements and eligibility criteria in detail in this article. After reading this article, you would know if you are qualified to apply for the exam or not.

Also, Here is a small video explaining these qualifications.

Let us begin by understanding what PMP certification is and why it is important for your career.

What is PMP Certification and what are its Benefits?

PMP is a globally renowned project management certificate. Its application spans across different industries in technical as well as non-technical domains.

Certified project managers are considered to be more knowledgeable and skillful than their non-certified counterparts and because of this reason PMP certified individuals are is great demand and command a higher salary.

Here are some interesting statistics about PMP Certification:

  1. As per project management salary survey, “Respondents with a PMP certification report higher median salaries than those without a PMP certification — 16% higher on average across the 40 countries surveyed”. This figure changes with country. In the United States, for example, PMP certified professionals get 32% higher salary.
  2. There are about 1 million certified PMPs in the world, which seems paltry in comparison to the demand for project management jobs. As per Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027, “through 2027, the project management-oriented labor force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33 percent, or nearly 22 million new jobs”.

You can read my articles advantages of PMP credential and value of PMP for your career to understand benefits of PMP in detail.

Before availing these benefits, you have to crack a very tough PMP certification exam. PMP exam preparation needs a lot of hard work and perseverance. Among many other things, you need to study two big tomes published by PMI viz. PMBOK Guide (A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge) and Agile Practice Guide. These books are considered to be soporific and hard to read. You can download them free of charge by becoming a PMI member.

PMP Certification Requirements and Eligibility Criteria

The following table gives a brief overview of the eligibility criteria for the PMP exam. The minimum PM experience depends on your educational qualification.

Your Educational Qualification PM Experience Requirement PM Education/Training Requirement
1. Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent). 5 years/60 months of experience in leading & directing projects. 35 contact hours or CAPM certification.
2. 4-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent). 3 years/36 months of experience in leading & directing projects. 35 contact hours or CAPM certification.

Note: CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification is also administered by PMI. It is targeted towards entry level project managers. The syllabus for CAPM and PMP exam is almost same but the former is much more difficult exam than the latter.

The above two requirements are listed in PMI’s PMP Handbook. Let us discuss the above PMP certification requirements in detail.

I. Project Management Experience

In order to be eligible for the PMP exam, you need 3/5 years of work experience in leading and directing projects.

“Leading and directing projects” simply means that you have gained PM experience by working as a project manager or as a part of a project management team. Essentially, it means that you should have been managing projects partly or fully.

Regular project experience that you might have gained by working as a project team member is not considered as “leading and directing projects”.

Let’s understand this requirement in more detail by looking at definition of a project.

What is a Project?

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

The PMBOK Guide

In order to meet the experience requirement, you should have worked in one or more projects. The type, nature and size of projects is not important. Your project could be technology oriented or non-technical; big or small; in-house or customer-oriented etc. They can be from any industry or business domain.

While documenting the work experience, you should differentiate between project and operational work. Work experience from any type of project can be considered. Furthermore, remember to use experience related to directing and leading projects.

What is “Leading and Directing” a Project?

“Leading and directing” simply means that you should have held a position of responsibility in your projects. You should have performed the role of a project manager and managed complete or part of projects.

Your designation or position in your company is not relevant. You can apply for the exam if you have been managing projects.

Here are a few examples of tasks that are considered as “leading and directing” tasks.

  1. Identifying, collecting, and documenting project requirements.
  2. Estimating duration, effort, cost, and resources.
  3. Identifying, documenting, and tracking assumptions, constraints, and dependencies.
  4. Scheduling the whole or part of the project.
  5. Identifying quality requirements and creating quality plan.
  6. Performing quality assurance and quality control activities.
  7. Managing the whole or part of the project team.
  8. Resolving conflicts among team members.
  9. Performing activities related to contracting and procurement management.
  10. Identify and manage project risks and issues.
  11. Prioritizing risks, creating risk repose plans, and taking action when necessary.
  12. Ensuring that the project timelines are met.
  13. Identifying changes and taking them through the change control process.
  14. Preparing and presenting progress reports to the senior management.
  15. Interacting with the customer and managing their expectations.

You would be eligible for the exam if you have done some of the above tasks while working in your projects.

PMP Exam Content Outline

The above list is an indicative list of tasks that are considered as PM activities. This is not a complete list. If you are looking for a complete list of tasks that PMI considers as PM tasks then you can refer to PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO).

The tasks in ECO are divided among 3 performance domains viz. People, Process, and Business Environment. You should have experience of each domain to be eligible for the exam. However, you need not have experience of all three domains on every project.

You can go through the entire list of tasks in ECO and understand their significance in project management but it is not important to study ECO at this point of time. You can go through ECO after you have done a bit of exam study.

PM Experience Requirement – Key Takeaways

  1. Depending on your educational qualification, you should have PM Experience of either 3 or 5 years.
  2. While filling up the PMP application form, you have to list all your projects along with the number of months worked in those projects.
  3. You cannot count entire working duration of a project as PM experience. Rather, you can count only those hours that were used to perform the PM tasks.
  4. While managing your projects, you should have performed some of the tasks from all 3 domains of ECO. However, it is not necessary to have performed all tasks from all 3 domains in all your projects.

II. 35 Contact Hours of Formal Project Management Education

You require 35 contact hours of formal project management education/training in order to qualify for the exam. Apart from being mandatory, a formal training will help you in the PMP exam prep.

Let us understand the meaning of contact hours and formal education.

What is a Contact Hour?

One hour of Classroom instruction equals one contact hour.

PMI’s PMP Handbook

PMI conceptualized the definition of contact hour before online training became a reality. So, 35 contact hours essentially means that you have to undergo a training with 35 hours of instruction.

So, if you spend 9 hours long training session with 7 hours of learning and 2 hours of break time then you can claim 7 hours as contact hours.

In the olden days, PMP training institutes used to hold 5 days of classroom training workshops for fulfilling the 35 contact hours requirement.

The definition of contact hours has changed since then. In the current era, 35 hours can be accrued from a classroom workshop, a live online training program, or a self-learning online course.

Note: Some people use the term PDU (Professional Development Unit) instead of contact hours. However, this is incorrect. PDUs are needed for continuing education after you have attained PMP certification.

What is Formal Education?

A formal education includes a traditional classroom training, an instructor led virtual training, or a self-learning online training.

Self-study from books or attending PMI chapter meetings is not counted towards contact hours.

The hours can be attained by attending any project management training that provides instruction on the 10 Knowledge Areas (KA) of the PMBOK Guide and Agile concepts from the Agile Practice Guide. The 10 KA include Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder Management.

It is not necessary to attend a PMP oriented training program to satisfy 35 hours requirement. You can attend any for formal training. However, I would recommend you to enroll in a PMP certification training course that is specially designed for the PMP exam. It will help you to crack the exam in your first try.

PMP Contact Hours Requirement – Key Takeaways

  1. You should have a formal PM education of at least 35 contact hours.
  2. You can utilize the hours accrued from multiple training programs that total up to 35 hours.
  3. You could use educational hours from your college programs.
  4. The 35 contact hours are valid for lifetime.

Do you Meet PMP Exam Eligibility Criteria?

By now, you would have understood the basic PMP Exam eligibility criteria. However, you still might have some lingering doubts. You might still be wondering if you meet the certification prerequisites or not.

Don’t worry. If you have the PM experience, you are on right track. After getting the requisite PM experience, you can join any recognized formal training program to complete the second requirement.

You can find a few good options for online training courses and live training boot camps on this blog.

Let me clarify a bit more by answering some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

​Yes, you can. The type of projects or industry does not matter. Your projects should conform to the PMI’s definition of a project.

​As per PMI, “a project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service or result”. In simple words, it means that you are creating something new in a ​defined time period.

Yes. Absolutely. Projects happen in all kind of industries. You can look at my article on ​value of doing PMP​. It provides statistical evidence of salary advantage of doing PMP across different industries. I have shared a link to Global PMP salary survey in that article. You should read the report to check the salary benefit of doing PMP in your country and for your industry. Otherwise also, PMP certification is considered to be one of the most popular and highest paying credential in the world.

You might be eligible for the exam. Total number of years of experience does not matter. You need to have experience of managing projects.

Yes. You can apply for the exam if you have the minimum PM experience. You designation or title in an organization has ​little significance.

It means that you should have held a position of responsibility in your project(s). e.g you might be managing a ​team, taking decisions related to schedule, cost, or risk, involved in client engagement, managing vendor(s) etc. You can refer to exam content outline for a complete list of project management tasks.

No. Simply working in projects as a team member is not enough. You should ​have worked in a leading or directing role.

Yes. ​As long as you have the requisite PM experience, you can apply for the exam. ​It does not matter if you have ​​managed ​a​complete o​r partial ​​project.

​No. You should have project management experience. Working in operations or managing them is not considered as project management.

​Yes. As long as you have the requisite PM experience, you can apply for the exam.

​​Yes. You can use any previous project management training ​to apply for the exam.

​Yes. You can use hours from your educational degree program.

​Yes. The contact hours from a ATP are pre-approved for the exam but any PM training form any training provider can be used to apply for the exam. In fact, PMI ATPs are not authorized to sell online training courses.

Before 2021, PMI had an REP program. Since then they have retired REP program and introduced ATP program.

​PMI verifies the information only if your application is audited. You can ​be asked to ​submit a copy of your training certificate and ​experience certificate(s). You would have to get the experience certificates signed from your manager(s) or ​any other organization’s representative.

How to do PMP Exam Preparation?

The preparation for the PMP exam start with determining your eligibility for exam.

If you are not eligible for the exam then I would recommend you to take CAPM exam. CAPM certification will help you in building a career in project management and lay a foundation for PMP.

If you are eligible for the exam then you should fix your budget before proceeding further. You can read my post on PMP certification cost to understand the expenses involved in PMP certification.

After you have fixed a budget, you can follow the below mentioned steps to prepare for the exam.

  1. Join a PMP facilitation training program.
  2. Study PMPBOK Guide, Agile Practice Guide, and at least one other PMP reference book.
  3. Practice mock questions and build your confidence.
  4. Fill PMP application form.
  5. Take the exam on scheduled date and pass it.

You can my article on how to get PMP certification to understand the above steps in detail.

Over To You

Are you eligible for the certification? If yes, then you should start preparing for the exam immediately. It should give a big boost to your career.

Do you still have doubts about the PMP eligibility criteria?

Please leave a comment and I will answer your questions.

Similar Posts


  1. Hi Sir,

    I am working as a technical lead in a software company. I have more than 8 years of experience.From last 4 years i am working as a lead. I am completely managing a project. Do i need to provide work experience document for this.

    Thanks in advance.


  2. Hi prabin,

    I’m currently working as a project manager in a data collection firm from last 2 years. Am i eligible for pmp or capm?

  3. Hello sir,

    I had 6 years of experience in R&D in biopharma industry. Can i apply for project management certification? If yes, could you please let me know the best PMP certification offering institute in bangalore through online and offline?

    Thanks and Regards,

  4. Hi prabin,

    I have done MCA. Currently I am working as designation of AM(Assistant Manager – IT) but am leading software project from last two year. Previous my designation is as SSE(Senior Software Engineer) but am leading software project from 3 year. I would like to know below :

    1. Am I eligible for PMP as am leading IT-Software Project(But Designation is not project manager).

    2. As MCA is 3 year course then how much project management exp required, 4500 Hr or 7500 Hr.


    Mukul Chandra

  5. Hello Praveen ji,

    I m having more than 12 year experience in operation and maintenance in telecom (infra and utility maintenance), where I m taking care of network operation with a team of 50+ team member. I M willing to pursue career in any other industry. Am I eligible for PMP certification. And after certification how it would help me for my career growth.

  6. Hi Praveen,
    I am a Qualified Chartered Accountant with 6years of working experience in SAP FI(two projects), Accounting, Reporting and want to pursue PMP.

    Just want to know if I am eligible??


  7. Hi Praveen,

    I have done MCA and working as a Software Developer since last 7 years. Can I use any other Industry’s PM Experience of 4500 Hrs?

  8. Hi Praveen,

    I have worked partially on projects. I also recently set up an event management company which I organize/coordinate events such as birthdays/weddings amongst others. I sometimes co-manage events with a sister company. Can this count towards the 4500 hrs


  9. Good day sir,

    I have about 15 years industry experience in the oil and gas downstream, and, Project monitoring/public services sector. I am a mechanical engineer though I have a MSC in project management.

    I’m interested in PMP certification.

    Please advice.


  10. Hello,

    I am diplomat and working professional since last 15 years in engineering industry as Mechanical Product Application Engineering, Proposals. Will PMP certification will be helpful ? Please guide.

  11. Hi,

    I have been working as a Project Engineer since 2015. All the decisions taken by management related to Engineering is through my opinion. I have been a core team member for taking decisions and leading the team underneath. So do I qualify for the criteria set by PMI for taking an exam?

    Best Regards,
    Jubeir Ahmad

  12. Hi Praveen – Thanks for sharing the information above. I want to ask if there is any limitation on how far back can one go to claim their PM experience if they have been a non-PM role since the last couple of years? Specifically, would I be eligible for PMP if I have 4500 hours of PM experience from 2014 till 2018 and post that I moved to a non-PM role? Thanks!

    1. Suyash, All project management experience must have been accrued within the last eight consecutive years prior to your application submission.


  13. What kind of documentation/proof does one need to provide to show how many hours were dedicated towards managing projects.

    1. Hi Scott, You do not need to submit any documentation at the time of filling the application.
      BR, Praveen.

  14. I working with Indian bank(PSB) as assistant manger for four years. I handled credit department mostly in my tenure. Am I eligible for PMP exam?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.