Debunking Eligibility Myths of the PMP Exam

There are many concerns regarding eligibility to take the PMP Exam. Most people who are looking into becoming a PMP have a high school diploma, but question the experience needed.  Because of the uncertainty, many myths start to generate into why someone should not be eligible. I hope to demystify some of the concerns and give truth to why someone has eligibility to take the PMP Exam.
The eligibility requirements are stated in the PMP Handbook. Eligibility consists of education, experience, and 35 contact hours. Page 8 of the PMP Handbook states that there must be education and experience background, per below:

                                     Educational Background

                                 Project Management Experience

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience  
  • 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project*


  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience 
  • 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project*


*Leading and directing the project as identified with the tasks, knowledge, and skills specific in the Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline.

The details mention “leading and directing the project”. What does that mean?

More direction is given on page 7 of the PMP Handbook through “Role Delineation (Job Analysis)”, per below

Candidates for the PMP credential:

  • Perform their duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of the project for the life of the project
  • Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget, and scope
  • Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined requirements and deliverables

Myth #1:  My job title is not “Project Manager”

It makes no difference what the title is in your experience to apply for the PMP Exam.What does matter is the understanding how the role that you play in projects affects a deliverable.  In fact, the application will ask which of the following roles your experience is in:

  • Project Contributor
  • Supervisor
  • Manager
  • Project Leader
  • Project Manager
  • Educator
  • Consultant
  • Administrator
  • Other

PMI does not expect everyone to have the title of “Project Manager”.  

 Myth #2:  I have not worked on “projects”.

Let us keep in mind, the definition of a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result” (PMBOK Guide-5th Edition, pg 553).

Some folks, who have worked in a functional type of company, may question their work experience as relating to project management. A functional company is a structured environment filled with a pyramid of managers and directors. This type of environment is built on efficiency and system mechanics, so an employee might often see the same type of work on a daily basis. Are they still working on projects?
It is feasible to find project work lead within your experience, whatever it is.  
If you have been an administrative assistant, for example, perhaps managers have requested for your permission to coordinate available rooms for conference times. That is a project in itself that takes planning and coordinating. The conference is a temporary endeavor that has a beginning and an end. It takes planning to arrange when and where availability for the space can be situated. The results that come from the conference could be the update of information to create informed decisions for team awareness.    
My wife, the elementary school teacher, has a myriad of projects that she does. She could apply for the PMP Exam.  Before the school year begins, she maps out the cost, scope, and schedule of her classes. She breaks down the school year into smaller chunks (such as in a Work Breakdown Structure) from units to chapters. Then, through progressive elaboration, she fine tunes her lessons into a daily format according to her customer (student) needs.   
Myth #3:  The 35 contact hours is too expensive
The final hurdle requirement of 35 contact hours is project management education received from a Registered Education Provider (REP). Often, REPs will provide the contact hours for exorbitant fees.  A great way that many people have found to meet the contact hour requirement is by attaining the knowledge through GreyCampus (REP ID 3871). See this link to find out about it and get started.
If you feel that you have been “stuck” in a mundane job with no growth, I would suggest that attaining a PMP certification will open doors to opportunities that could be more exciting and adventurous.

Author - Gregory Morrow

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Gregory Morrow