PMP Tips

The tips you need to get your PMI 'Project Management Professional' certification

PMP Certification Cost

PMP Certification Cost is just the tip of the iceberg when considering a PMP Exam. Read on to minimize your outlay on this expensive certification.

More than just the PMP exam fee

PMP certification cost is a non-trivial consideration when deciding to undertake the Project management Institute’s Project Management Professional certification.

The money costs are detailed below but the real cost is in time and effort. I’ll explain why these are comparatively small compared to the benefit of being a certified PMP.

Who is a PMP certification really for?

For years I’d put off doing my PMP certification. I was very experienced and had a good grasp of both the hard and soft skills required in delivering large projects. I’d met all the PMP certification requirements, I just hadn’t pursued the certification itself.

However, when changing jobs, it quickly became apparent that a huge amount of pre-screening of applications was now being carried out by HR people not necessarily close to my project and technical skills.

Despite my clear experience and qualifications, I wasn’t getting the face-time with a hiring manager needed for interesting work. It’s a buyer’s market out there.

Just consider, I had well over twenty years’ experience as a Project Manager and a young HR person with frankly low understanding of what’s involved in delivering complex projects is sorting resumes based on a “PMI or similar Certification Required”. I wasn’t getting a look in.

Reality bites

Well, the world doesn’t owe us a living and we have to change with it. It is a testament to how well the Project Management Institute (and others) have promoted their own certifications that it’s now considered essential for over two thirds of openly advertised Project Management positions.

The real cost here is an opportunity cost – if we’re not PMI certified (or similar) we lose out on two out of every three opportunities that match our skillset before even getting to interview.

Now that’s a real cost.

The money

Anyhow, as for the money, here it is. It’s cheapest to join the PMI first and get a small discount on the exam,so based on that, here is the hard PMP certification cost …

PMI Membership:$€139

PMP Exam Fee: $405

Online training (e.g. PM Prepcast): $130, or, 1 week classroom course:$1,200

A couple of books: $100

Time out of work and opportunity cost … you answer this.

Learning styles

It’s really important to judge whether you genuinely can use an online course, work your way through it, do a couple of practice exams and them site the full exam itself. This didn’t work for me.

I bit the bullet, took a week of unpaid leave and paid to join a course. You choose what works for you. If your employer is fully or even partially covering the training and study time you definitely need to go that way; it’s just the most direct route.


After doing the course, I diligently did three full length simulated exams. This is essential as it gives you a feel for the type of questions that come up so add $50 for practice exams. Just be sure they are current simulations.

The exam evolves year by year and is, frankly, getting harder. As you can see, the PMP exam cost is only part of what you’ll have to spend.

This certification is a real investment so it’s important to invest wisely. Make sure your tutor is PMP certified and knows how to teach – many are just a page or two ahead of you in the manual so a personal recommendation is essential. Your local PMI chapter can help here – they are everywhere.

Speak to potential tutor first (not just the person who answers the phone), if you’re not on the same wavelength you will have a very unproductive week.

Why use more than the “PMBOK”?

Note that whatever its merits, the PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) was not written to either teach the essentials of Project Management or even in guiding you to pass the PMP exam. Its purpose is to lay out the PMI Project management framework: don’t bank on using this as your guide to learning and passing the exam … the PMBOK has a very different purpose.

In short, it’s a serious undertaking to gain that magic 61% passing mark. Is it worth it? Definitely. But understand that the PMP certification cost is significantly more than just the PMP exam fee alone.

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