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


I completely agree with you. I also noticed quite a few people got their certifications with the help of BrainDumps/Cheatsheets etc. They might be certified PMPs, but how far they will do good to projects with this certification, i don't know.

With or without PMP certification, one can do a better project management if he/she can communicate well and get things done on-time. It's a practice and experience nothing more. There is no doubt that, PMP certified candidates are short-listed in interview selection process and i experienced many times in real life.

Thank u for this page and topic ..I was thinking ..my self ..why i need to get PMP certificate and whether it will benefits my career ..
i found this really helpful ..and i agree with you.
also i will get the certificate ;)

Would like to have your views on relevance of this certificate ? Does it hold good for IT projects only.
Can a person having background in Interior projects get benefit out of this.??

This certification is not intended for IT projects. It is very broad and covers general project management techniques. Only Prince2 is IT oriented.

Prince2 was born for IT and evolve. I took the following from www.prince2.com, it says. "PRINCE2 is a process-based approach for project management, providing an easily tailored and scaleable project management methodology for the management of all types of projects".
I have been reviewing PRINCE2 and actually is a general approach for different kinds of projects.

thank u for this topic and your time

I am considering becoming certified because I want to make a career change from a project engineer to project manager. I am currently in the commercial millwork industry and there are very few jobs in my area, especially in my salary range. I have been a PM on projects, but not full time. I need to make a change (since my company is not doing well these past years) and if having this certification can help me with options of finding work with GC's or other types of companies, I would do it. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

On top of what is shared in this article and on the official website of PMI, regarding PMP certifications, there is nothing to add.

Good luck with the career change.

and of course you do not have a certification. Anyone who knows anything about it knows it takes a lot of skills, including courage. You should give it a try and find out.

Those skills should also include reading. Which is something you apparently failed to do. He states several times that he DOES have his certification. This entire article was written out of experience. He was not trying to downplay the certification, just to point out that many sites on the internet are playing it up to be a cure for everything. He's just trying to bring real information out to inform those that are attempting to get their certification.


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