The Ultimate Guide For PMP Certification Requirements In 2020

pmp certification requirements

I have written this post to discuss and describe PMP certification requirements. In this article you will learn about educational qualification, project management experience, and training needs to fulfill PMI’s eligibility criteria.

PMP certification is one of the most popular and prestigious credential in the world. It is globally recognized. You want to apply for the exam but you are not sure where to start.

The first step towards attaining any credential is to determine what the prerequisites for the exam are.

This article will help you in understanding the PMP requirements and filling the PMP application form. After reading it, you would know if you are qualified for the exam or not.

PMP Certification Requirements

There are two basic requirements to apply for the PMP exam – project management experience and 35 contact hours of formal education. You need to satisfy both these requirments to be eligible for the credential test. Let me describe these in detail.

I. Project Management Experience

You need a minimum number of hours of Project Management (PM) Experience for meeting the PMP certification requirements.

Most project managers who have been leading and directing projects for 3-5 years have this experience.

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 part of a project management team. Essentially it means that you should have either managed a complete or part of a project(s).

It is not enough to work just as a project team member.

The exact requirements are:

  • 4500 hours of PM experience if you have done a four years of degree course (bachelor’s degree or equivalent).
  • 7500 hours of PM experience if you have secondary degree (high school diploma or equivalent).

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

What is a Project?

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


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. It 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.

What is Project Management?

The PMBOK Guide’s definition of project management is very broad and somewhat confusing. We can ignore it. Let’s take a look at the tasks involved in managing a project.

PMI has created a list of various project management tasks. This list is available in PMP Exam Content Outline.

You can go through this list to understand the significance of project management. You are eligible for the PMP exam if you have done some of these tasks while managing your projects(s).

There is a small additional requirement. The task list is divided into 5 performance domains (Process Groups). You should have experience of all five process groups across all your projects in order to be eligible for the exam. However, you do not need to have experience of all five groups on every project.

What is Leading and Directing a Project?

It means that you should have performed the role of a project manager and managed a complete project. Or you should have managed part of a project. Essentially, it means that you should have done some of the PM tasks that are listed in PMP Exam Content Outline.

PM Experience Requirement – Key Takeaways

  • You should have PM Experience of either 4500 hours or 7500 hours depending on your educational qualification.
  • You cannot count entire working duration of a project towards 4500/7500 hours. You can count only those hours that were used to perform PM tasks.
  • You can add up hours from multiple projects.
  • You should have experience of all 5 performance domains (Process Groups). However, this experience is not needed in a single project.

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

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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 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 also 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

  • You should have a formal PM education of 35 contact hours or more.
  • You can utilize the hours accrued from multiple training programs that total up to 35 hours.
  • You could use educational hours from your college programs.
  • The 35 contact hours are valid for lifetime.

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

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Do You Meet PMP Certification Eligibility?

You would have understood the basic prerequisites. But, there might be some lingering doubts. You could still be wondering if you meet the PMP certification requirements 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

​I ​am work​ing in Industry X. Can I use my projects for PMP eligibility?

​What is the definition of a Project as per PMI?

​Is PMP applicable and useful for professionals who are not working in IT industry?

​I have N years of experience. Am I eligible for the exam?

​My designation is not Project Manager? Can I apply for the exam?

​What is meant by "project management experience in a leading role"?

​Can I apply for the exam if I only have experience of working in Projects?

​Can I apply for the exam if I have ​only managed part of project(s)?

​Can I apply for the exam if I only have experience of managing Operations?

​Can I apply for the exam if I have managed both Operations and Projects?

​I attended a 35 hours training a few years ago. The PMBOK Guide edition has changed since then. Can I use my previous contact hours for applying to the current exam?

​I studied project management as part of my educational degree. Can I use this education for applying to the exam?

​Can I undergo a training from a non Registered Education Provider (non-REP) to gain 35 contact hours?

​How/When ​does PMI verify the information ​that ​is provided in the application form?

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.

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Praveen Malik, PMP

​Praveen Malik ​is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 23+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor, Coach and ​Advisor. He ​has successfully trained thousands of aspirants for the PM certification exams.

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