Program manager Conrado Morlan explains why he earned and maintains his Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification — and how it’s made a difference in his career.
I wasn’t always a proponent of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
My first exposure to PMI’s signature certification was during a training program at a company I worked for years ago in Mexico. My colleagues and I questioned the benefits of the PMP®, which at the time was not well known in the country. I left the company before taking the exam.
In my new job, however, I discovered that the knowledge I acquired in the training program was valuable. Without prompting, I used some of the approaches I had encountered in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), especially those related to risk management and project integration.
As I progressed professionally, I moved to the United States and learned more about PMI. I became a member and a regular at chapter meetings. It was at this point — with eight years of practical experience in project management under my belt — that I realized I needed to take it to the next level: I needed to earn my PMP certification.
Sure, professional experience and on-the-job-training are important. But attaining the PMP would mean that the world's largest association for the profession would validate my experience and knowledge.
I earned my PMP in 2005 — and since then I have never regretted it or let it lapse. Achieving the certification brought me immediate benefits. After I notified my manager, he awarded me an incentive bonus. A week later, I was selected to lead one of the company’s most challenging projects. More broadly, the knowledge I’ve gained through the PMP has inspired me to actively research trends in project management.
I'm not saying that earning my PMP helped me gain recognition and new experiences overnight. But I needed that certification to get to the next stage in my career.
Take the Next Step
Despite all the benefits, I still meet project professionals who don’t see the value in certifications, just as I once did not many years ago. The most common questions I hear are: Why should I bother earning a certification if I’m already a senior project manager with many years of experience? And: How will a certification make me different?
I respond with a challenge: Why not step out of your comfort zone? What made you successful in the past will not make you successful today.
The truth is that, just like doctors, project professionals need to update their knowledge to face the challenges of today’s project landscape. A PMP certification allows you to acquire career-changing project management knowledge. At least that is what it has done for me.
Finally: You may be wondering why I didn’t mention the cost of earning the PMP, and whether it’s worth it. To me, it’s a no-brainer. Never forget what former Harvard University President Derek Bok once said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Conrado Morlan, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, is a management consultant at Daugherty Business Solutions supporting Fortune 500 companies with portfolio, program and project management services. He is an avid PMI volunteer and served as a board member of PMI’s Dallas, Texas, USA chapter.
What Does It Take to be a PMP?
Experience to Qualify:
4-year degree, 3 years of experience leading projects, AND 35 hours project management education/training
— OR —
High school diploma, associate's degree or the global equivalent, 5 years of experience leading projects, AND 35 hours project management education/training
Pass a 200-question, multiple choice exam
Maintain 60 hours of professional development every 3 years