PMP Certification Requirements In 2021: The Ultimate Guide

PMP certification is one of the most popular and highest paying credential in the world. In order to apply for the PMP exam, you should meet the basic eligibility criteria as prescribed by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

You will find detailed explanation of PMP certification requirements in this post. It will help you in understanding the prerequisites for the PMP exam, which include educational qualification, project management experience, and formal training.

After reading the post, you would know if you are qualified for the exam or not and whether you can fill the exam application form.

PMP Certification Requirements

There are only two requirements to apply for the PMP exam. You need to have:

  1. a minimum amount of Project Management (PM) experience, which depends on your educational qualification.
  2. 35 contact hours of formal PM education.

The following table gives a brief overview of the requirements.

Your Educational Qualification Requirement I – PM Experience Requirement II – Formal PM Education
1. Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent). Min 5 years / 60 months unique non-overlapping professional PM experience & 7,500 hours spent on projects. 35 contact hours.
2. 4-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent). Min 3 years / 36 months unique non-overlapping professional PM experience & 4,500 hours spent on projects. 35 contact hours

The number of hours of PM experience depends on your educational qualification. In order to be eligible for the credential test, you need to have both minimum PM experience and 35 contact hours.

Let’s look at these requirements in detail.

I. Project Management Experience

You need a minimum number of hours of PM Experience to be eligible for the PMP exam. You would have this experience, if you have been leading and directing projects for 3-5 years.

Let us understand what is meant by “leading and directing projects”. It 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 managed either a complete project(s) or part of a project(s).

If you are working as a a project team member then it is not considered as “leading and directing projects”.

PMI’s terminology can be quite confusing. Let’s understand this requirement in more detail.

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 PMP requirement, you should have worked in one or more project(s). The type, nature and size of projects are not important. You can gain experience from any type of project.

Your project could be technology oriented or non-technical; big or small; in-house or customer-oriented etc. It could be from any industry or business domain.

The important thing to bear in mind is that, you should have worked at least 7500/4500 hours in a “leading and directing” role.

What is “Leading and Directing” a Project?

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

Here are a few examples of tasks that you might have done while working in your project(s).

  1. Scheduling the whole or part of the project.
  2. Managing the whole or part of the team.
  3. Presenting progress reports for senior management.
  4. Customer interaction.
  5. Ensuring timelines are met.

If you are looking for a complete list of tasks that PMI considers as project management tasks then you can refer to PMP Exam Content Outline.

You are eligible for the PMP exam if you have done some of these tasks while “leading and directing” your projects(s).

Note: You can go through the entire list of tasks in Exam Content Outline to understand the significance of project management. However, this list is somewhat cryptic. So, you can just take a high level overview of tasks to understand what PMI expects from you.

There is a small additional requirement. The task list is divided into 3 performance domains. You should have experience of each domain in any one of your projects in order to be eligible for the exam. However, you do not need to have experience of all three domains on every project.

PM Experience Requirement – Key Takeaways

  1. You should have PM Experience of either 7500 or 4500 hours depending on your educational qualification.
  2. You cannot count entire working duration of a project towards 7500/4500 hours. You can count only those hours that were used to perform PM tasks.
  3. You can add up hours from multiple projects.
  4. You should have experience of all 3 domains. However, this experience is not needed in a single project.

To meet PMP certification eligibility, you should have 7500/4500 of PM Experience as defined by the tasks listed in the Exam Content Outline.

II. 35 Contact Hours of Formal Project Management Education

You require 35 contact hours of formal project management education in order to qualify for the exam. 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

If you attend an 9 hour long session with breaks in-between, then you can claim (9 hours minus the break time) as contact hours.

These hours can be accrued from a classroom course or an online training workshops.

What is Formal Education?

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

Self-study is not counted towards the contact hours.

The hours can be attained from any PM course that includes instruction on the 10 Knowledge Areas (KA) as defined in the PMBOK Guide. These KA include Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder Management.

PMP Contact Hours Requirement – Key Takeaways

  1. You should have a formal PM education of 35 contact hours or more.
  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.

To meet PMP certification eligibility, you need 35 contact hours of formal project management education.

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 training here and here.

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. I have shared a link to Global PMP salary survey in that article. It provides statistical evidence of salary advantage of doing PMP across different industries. You should read the report to check the salary benefit of doing PMP in your country and for your industry.

You might be eligible for the exam. Total number of years of experience does not matter. You need to have experience of managing projects. It means that you should have contributed at least 4500/7500 hours in managing projects or part of projects.

Yes. You can apply for the exam if you have minimum (4500/7500 hours) 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 4500 hours of the project management experience, you can apply for the exam. It does not matter if you have managed acomplete or 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 4500/7500 hours of the project management 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 REP are pre-approved for the exam. But you can take a PM training form any training provider.

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.

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.

Or, are you still confused about the eligibility criteria?

Please leave a comment.

Related Articles

Everything You Wanted To Know About PMP Audit
PMP Online Training For 35 Contact Hours

19 thoughts on “PMP Certification Requirements In 2021: The Ultimate Guide”

  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!

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



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