Has the PMP® Lost Its Lustre?  (Hint: The Short Answer is “No!”)

I get this question a lot about the credential.  Is it still worth pursuing?  Should I bother to keep up my PDUs?  The answer is not just “yes,” but ABSOLUTELY!  It’s amazing to me that folks would even consider letting it lapse.  And for those who are on the fence on whether or not to get it, they only have a few years before they become part of the second million people holding the profession’s most prized credential.

With the current tally of PMPs at over 600,000, there’s every reason to believe that PMI® will hit the million mark in the next few years.

But Carl!  Isn’t interest waning on this?

Businesses are not tiring of it.  And as we go, new converts are coming to the fold.

I had a compelling experience this week at a conference that had nothing to do with project management.  It was an association conference with a single session on project management.  That was mine.  As I preached the gospel of PM, it became clear that the attendees could see the benefits.  They got the message.  One of them even got the PMBOK!  Until that workshop, project management was an amorphous term.  When we were done, they were asking about the formal practice.  This is not a one-off experience. It’s the norm.

When I started in project management, telecommunications was just joining the PM bandwagon.  Pharmaceuticals followed.  Utilities were on their heels, and then government.  Industry after industry sees what project management offers, and there’s a swell of new converts, new believers, new opportunities, and new PMPs.  Each time, the job opportunities for existing PMPs grows.

I have a real problem with those who see the PMP as somehow diminished by the sheer volume of credentialed professionals.  No one suggests that CPAs should let their credential lapse because there are too many CPAs.  Instead, each credential holder is celebrated.  Why?  Because there’s not a limited number of people who will need their services in the future.  The “pie” is not fixed.  It’s ever-expanding.  And because of that, we shouldn’t balk at the notion that there are too many credential-holders.

A Vested Interest

I confess to having a vested interest in all of this.  I have a PMP® Prep course coming up soon. (It doesn’t matter when you read this…I always have a PMP® Prep course coming up).  I want more students in my class.  But those of you who already have the PMP® have a vested interest in this as well.  The more credential holders there are, the more that we see the profession wheedling its way into other industries, businesses, organizations and (as I learned this week), associations.

And the more associations that adopt the PMI® gospel…the more that adhere to the PMBOK® Guide processes, the more valuable each PMP® becomes.  If the pie gets bigger and bigger, the value of our slice grows with it.

When I got into project management in the late 1980’s, I seriously doubted the value of the PMP®.  My PMP® number is 1049.  I’m what you call an early adopter.  Now, I’m banking on 1,000,000 certified professionals by late in the decade.  And when that happens?  Those who can say, “I got my credential when there were only about 600,000 of us,” will be seen as early adopters!  And those of us who were on the bandwagon when there were less than 100,000 (or 10,000) will officially be the “old school” of the profession.

What does this mean for you?  I offer two answers below:


This means that you darn well better be thinking about earning PDUs in stuff that makes you current.  You need to be speaking from the cutting edge of the profession.  Agile, Scrums, portfolios, ISO 21500…these all need to be key components of your lexicon.  And if you got your certification under PMBOK® Guide 2000, 3rd, or 4th edition?  Consider taking something (like a PMP® prep course) to bring you into currency with the current edition.


It’s show time.  If you don’t know PMI® well, you don’t know that the exam has a nasty habit of changing every four years.  Right now, we’re not at the cusp of a new cycle, while makes it the perfect time to make the move.  There’s enough data out there on what’s happening with the exam, and there’s not a crowded panic to get the credential before the next change.  (Just a word of warning:  When the exam is coming up on a change period, the number of folks seeking the credential surges with a vritual panic that the candidates may have to learn a whole new PMBOK® Guide before the change.  It’s amazing to watch the herd mentality that goes with an exam change.


While you may not value your PMP® today, the credential is not going anywhere.  Unlike credentials in MS-DOS programming, the PMP® has the advantage of having “legs.”  We need project managers who know the gospel, know what they’re doing and can be consistent with their peers.  And while your industry may not be as gung-ho about the concept as they might have been in the past…while the pie may be shrinking in your corner of the world…the PMP® opens the door for you to examine the “larger pie”.

Questions?  Comments?  E-mail carl at Carl (at) carlpritchard.com  OR Post them here!