What You Will NOT Earn From a PMP Certification

In April 2010 I managed to obtain my PMP certification and I’ve found out that I am one of the 360.000+ certified project managers in the world. That’s quite a large number (and I’m not counting other project management certifications) and, while reading this, it made me feel a lot less unique and outstanding. I then started reading about the reasons why others get this certification and I was pretty disappointed. What I’ve seen all over the Internet is that many people claim false benefits for this certification. That’s why I decided it would be time to share my own view on what you will earn from being PMP certified and try to demystify some of the benefits that are being sold to us.

1. There Will Not Be More Market Demand for You

This is one the most popular arguments people market as a benefit for getting a PMP certification. What PMP (or Prince 2 for that matter) certifies is the fact that you have a standard set off knowledge and skills. These certifications do not prove the fact that you are a great project manager. They certify that you know the standard for getting the job done. And while the demand for project managers might be on the rise for the last couple of years, it doesn’t mean there will be more demand for you, as an individual.

What a PMP certification will do, is help your resume be ignored less often during the candidates selection process. When a company notices you are a PMP certified project manager, it will consider you might meet the standard requirements for the job. And yes, they might call you and you might succeed in getting the job from a large pool of competitors (some of which are certified too). But that won’t be due to the certification itself. Your experience, personality & preparedness for the interview process will get you the job. A PMP certification will only increase your chances of being called for an interview. Nothing else.

2. You Will Not Get a Higher Salary

Many would have you believe that being a PMP means getting a raise or a higher salary in general. I consider this to be false. As I said before, being certified means you know the standard for doing project management. If you have obtained the certification at the right time in your career, which is 3 to 5 years work experience in project management, then chances are you learned something new during the certification process. The new knowledge will help you be more successful with your projects and this might get you better performance evaluations which, of course, may mean a higher pay-check. But this will not happen very fast, it will take time and you will have to actually improve your performance as a project manager. If you don’t, no employer in this world will give you a raise just because you are PMP certified.

If you have obtained the certification at the wrong time in your career, after more than 5 years in the field then you are likely to already know the standard. And guess what? There will be no tangible improvement in your project management work because you didn’t really gain knowledge. And your salary will remain the same.

On the positive side though, what is likely to happen is that your company will sponsor your certification costs. Some companies will allow you to expense your exam fee, others will even pay for your training to become certified. If your company is willing to do this, then go for it by all means, and do this at the right time (3 to 5 years work experience) to maximize your gain.

3. You Won’t Be Considered a Successful Project Manager

Many will say that PMP (or Prince2) certifications reflect achievement and, as such, people will start to consider you a successful project manager and you will have better job opportunities. I could not disagree more. Success & achievement cannot be proven by a standard certification. It doesn’t matter the field you are working in.

It might be a personal achievement, as in learning something new and getting an internationally recognized certification in the process, but it will not convince others that you are a successful project manager. Achievements are obtained through hard work and real life results. If you don’t have results, if your projects are average, people & companies will not change their opinion of you.

Another aspect you should be aware of, is the fact that PMP or Prince2 certifications are mostly recognized by other project managers. If you tell somebody who’s working in a different field, most probably he/she won’t know what PMP or Prince2 are. However, other project managers will be involved in the recruiting process for their companies & they will know what your certification means.

4. You Won’t Build Your Self Confidence

This is marketed as a soft but important benefit of becoming PMP certified. Each time I read this, it makes me laugh. When has self confidence become dependent on a certification? If you are a professional with at least 3 years of experience you either have self confidence or you don’t. If you don’t have it, then you need to focus on something else, not a PMP certification. Finding a good coach that believes in your potential, understanding the things you are good at, working on projects that will help you grow - these might be the things you should focus on to help build your self confidence. No certification in this world will give you a true, long lasting boost in the confidence department.

Conclusion - Be Clear On the True Benefits

I am not saying that you should not get certified. In the end, I’ve chosen to be one of the many certified project managers because it provided value to me. It managed to help me structure all knowledge in a logical framework, made me aware of certain tools which can help in better planning or controlling of my projects, etc. What I am saying is that you should not believe all the false benefits people use to ‘sell’ this certification. Take the time to think things through, identify the true benefits of going through this effort and, if you think it pays off in the long run, then go get certified. Forget the marketing speeches that you bump into on the Internet!

Before you close this page and browse to something else, I am very curios to know your thoughts on the subject. By all means, do leave a comment using the form below and share your opinion on this topic with me and the world.

Related content:

Tips and tricks for getting PMP Certified
Head First PMP, 2nd Edition - Review based on Personal Experience
The Prince2 Certification in a Nutshell


It is a well written article. I was thinking of whether I should do this project or not because my primary reason for considering this certification, was to have a highlight in my resume so that I can be projected among many other candidates. However selection in an interview happens because of personality, experience and how you perform on the given day. Any certification adds just that extra qualification to your overall resume. Keeping this in mind, I suggest people that if you are looking for value, take the certification.

The hiring process is a cluster fuck run by people who aren't all to bright by themselves, but when they get together they drop their collective IQs by 20 points. The hiring process is a voodoo ritual that requires the right components to cast, so that the God's of human resources might grant a company a "qualified candidate". That might include offerings of human hair, dead chickens or PMP certifications. In any event you need to provide them with the spell's material for a successful rain dance.

Jobs are relatively insecure as is the economy, there is going to be at least one time, probably more, in your career in which an unforeseen event is going to thrust you into the job market, a possibly hostile market. PMP certification is a poll tax you have to pay in order to maximize your chances of getting into the kind of positions you might want and minimize the risks of the unforeseen.

Read your article and make me to think about my decision to go for PMP, I am working as Telecom engineer with 4.5 yrs experience so now is it worth to do PMP (as mentioned by you 3 to 5 yrs Ex). Is this right approach to move from technical to management or change profile by doing PMP or should go for any Executive program in management. Pls do suggest & reply

An Executive program in management might be too much but, before you decide, take a look at jobs that would interest you in the future and check their requirements. This exercise will help you make the best decision about what program to follow.

While some of your statements and the comments below are correct others I feel are not. True anyone who can study and take a test can pass. I know plenty of PMs who are PMPs who I would not trust to walk my dog. I also know some PMs who would never be able to pass the test, but have managed never to be late, over budget or rejected for quality.
I found the PMP has given me the edge over other candidates and did boost my ego especially when I hear people say how great of a PM they are and "Im GOING to take the test and be a PMP", then I tell them I am already one and watch them wiggle away.
I will leave on this note:
What do you call the last person to graduate medical school?

Good Luck

Actually where I disagree at most is your point N.4, of course one should (must) have the pratical knowledge and skills, but just as a comparison would you think that a good self-studied carpenter would have the same knowledge AND self-confidence of a graduated mechanical engineer?
I would say a self-confidence component is by all means present when getting a formal acknowledgement of a learning process.

Dear all,
This is krishna ,I done MSc(IT), i had totals 6+years exp in Business development , i want to grow my future ,
pls give me the suggestion forme , The PMP Certification is really useful or not for my future ,

In my country, there is an "explosion" of requests asking for PMPs. I think this is a wave. The projects results show that only the PMP certification is not enough. Other soft competences are becoming to the surface as required for good results. The IPMA approach based on competences gives a good vision about.

I am working as production managers handling a team of 110+, have worked on several projects (knowing or unknowingly), in a KPO industry for nearly 11+ years. I move up from an Operator and around 2007/2008 i became a production manager. I was going through sites and read through comments about availing PMP inorder to change my career/remuneration. Availing PMP at this point of time, is the right decision?

Change jobs and you will get better pay. Also master the art of negotiation and keep saying no untill you get what you want. PMP=higher pay if you strategise wisely. I know that for a fact. Go get your PMP.


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