Dear PM Advisor. January 21, 2013

Dear PM Advisor, A lot of people around me have been getting their PMP certification. Some of them are right out of college. I've been managing projects for 20 years. Is it important to get it and what is it even worth if people with no experience are getting it?

Old Fogie in Seattle.

Dear Old Fogie,

I studied for and received my PMP certification back in 1999. My number was somewhere around 14,000. My nephew just got his and his number was 2 million something. It has certainly become more popular. When I first received mine, I had to explain to people that PMP was not shorthand for my night job. Now everyone seems to know what it means.

Many jobs are not open to those without the certification. It is also seen as almost like a degree, you need to have it in your tool-kit to be considered a serious Project Manager. So the answer to your first question is: Yes, it is important to get the certification. It is worth getting it, just so that you don't get beaten out for a great PM gig by some kid with a PMP. If you both have it, the sponsor will pick the one with more experience.

But I've also noticed the same trend that people are getting this certification right out of college. I don't like this trend. It cheapens the certification. The pre-requisites are 7500 hours of project management experience but college students are making their coursework and course-projects fit the requirements. Then they pass the test and suddenly they are PMPs. I don't feel that they know what real projects are like yet.

The Project Management Institute gets $500 for everyone who takes the test so they are motivated to make it as accessible as possible. They have also added many other certifications to gain more money here. I haven't seen my dues diminish along with this huge surge of income so I can only assume that the leadership of this 'Not for profit' organization is doing quite well these days.

To answer your second question: It is slowly losing its value as more and more inexperienced people are gaining the certification. PMI better watch out that it doesn't kill the golden goose.

The greatest value I received from taking the test was what I learned while studying for it. I exposed myself to a lot of interesting concepts I knew nothing about. I may never use some of the areas like contract negotiations or formal project closure but it was nice to learn about aspects my team-members typically do.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send me your questions at Bruce@RoundTablePM.com