Is the PMP losing its value?

Is the PMP losing its value?

I came across a couple pieces, one by Kareem Shaker and another by Derek Huether. They echoed some of my own sentiments about the real value of the PMI‘s PMP credential. I know first hand some PMP-holders who have no business running a project. They’ve passed the PMI’s test (which isn’t difficult for an experienced PM), and handed in application forms that were so light on detail they should have been flagged by the most perfunctory of glances.

The loss of intended value of a credential isn’t a new thing. Over the twenty years of my career I’ve seen it many times–particularly when the credential is managed by a for-profit body. The pattern seems to be as follows:

  • For-profit body creates a new credential
  • For-profit body markets credential, making success promises to hiring managers (who buy it)
  • Hiring managers start to demand credential
  • Shortage of credential-holders increases perceived value of credential
  • Boot camps surface, making income promises to students
  • Demand for credential waters-down the capability of the for-profit body to verify applicants
  • For-profit body begins issuing certificates to anyone who can pass a test
  • Intended value of the credential plummets

Has This Happened to the PMI?

Of course, as hiring managers get wise to the fact their certificate-holding new hires can’t boil water let alone do what the certificate suggests they can, the demand for the certificate starts to wane. That has a couple effects:

1) The industry perceived value (and compensation) towards the certificate-holders’ discipline drops
2) The reputation of the for-profit certificate issuer drops

I know we’re in leaner times economically, and I’m hearing noise that suggests project managers are making less than they were a few short years ago. Is this related to a decrease in value of the PMP credential or simply the fact that times are tough?

I’m interested in what you think about the PMP. Does it continue to have value? Is the PMI doing a good enough job ensuring credential holders deserve the PMP? Is the industry watered down with too many PMP holders who can’t run a project? Or is the PMP an excellent credential that should give hiring managers confidence in their new hire?

What do you think?

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I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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  • As a follow-on to this discussion, I would like to see what folks think about the new PMI Registered Consultant Program.

    To me it seems like you submit a 1-pager on your firms experience, be in business for 5 years, and send a nice check for $1500USD.


  • *cough* money grab *cough* Er…I mean…I’m sure it’s a very legitimate program. 😉

  • Hi

    The PMP (and the other certifications such as APMP and PRINCE2) are just part of a development road map for project managers. They are basically evaluations of knowledge, with requirements for experience in the case of PMP. These should be seen as just part of an integrated development roadmap for project managers from a foundation to those capable of delivering the most complex projects. This develop journey is a lifetime of learning not just a 35 hour course and a quick exam. may organisations implement this career path development as a Project Academy. These combine certification with continuous professional development and in-work place assignments. For more advice on how to develop your own project management academy you can download our white paper from

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  • Jay Engle

    I am a PMP and even I think it’s on the decline. The PMP exam itself has changed for the worse. It now has a secret passing score, and the applicants own scores are secret as well. Scoring methods and the content of the test are also largely secret. The rates of passing and failing, they too are secret. That lack of transparency and the PMBOK’s utter lack of mathematical rigor just can’t be good indicators.

  • Kylie Wilson

    Wonderful article! This provided detailed information about project management and how to make use of it. Moreover, I have seen a growing demand for Project management certified professionals. With the help of training providers like, I was able to prepare for my PMP exam in an efficient manner.