Before you can take the PMP exam, you must accumulate a large amount of project management work. This requirement to take the PMP exam is designed so that only experienced project managers receive the certification. According to the Project Management Institute's official requirements, if you have a high school diploma, associates degree, or equivalent, then you must accumulate:
- A total of at least five years/60 months of experience leading and directing project tasks.
- A total of at least 7,500 hours of leading and directing project tasks.
However, if you have a bachelor's degree or equivalent (in any major or field), then the experience requirement to take the PMP exam is considerably lower:
- A total of at least three years/36 months of experience leading and directing project tasks.
- A total of at least 4,500 hours of leading and directing project tasks.
For both scenarios, you must have experience in all five of the project management process groups in a project's life cycle. However, on any individual project you do not need experience across all five process groups. In other words, to take the PMP exam you must have some experience in initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing a project, but that experience could be spread across multiple projects.
Additionally, you must have accumulated your experience no more than eight years prior to applying for the PMP certification, and overlapping experience is only counted once. For example, if you led two projects simultaneously for one year, that only counts as a single year of project management experience toward the PMP exam requirements.
During the application process, you will be asked for details about all relevant project management experience including your supervisor's contact information for verification purposes. It is therefore important throughout your project management career to keep detailed notes on every project, so that you can easily document the requirements to take the PMP exam.