“What is this ‘4500 hours of PMP® application hours of Work Experience Details in PMP® Application Form?”

Today, I am addressing this frequently asked question by PMP® aspirants during my introductory sessions. Before getting started on PMP® journey by enrolling in a PMP® program, the question of eligibility criteria is of utmost importance.

Project Management Institute (PMI)® offers the world’s most sought-after professional certification, Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. To meet its eligibility criteria professionals are required to furnish a typical description of projects in PMP® application.

The required hours of experience would vary according to your education.

If you have 16 years of formal education including 4 years bachelor’s degree (10+2+4), the total experience required is 4500 hours, if you have 15 years of formal education 3 years of degree or diploma (10+2+3), then you need to have a total experience of 7500 hours i.e. 5 years of leading and directing project work.

If you have done your post-graduation, (10+2+3+2), then you would need 4500 hours of experience.

You may get confused by the term “leading and directing project”. I have quickly explained what leading and directing project work means, if you want to have an in-depth understanding, do refer to  PMI® Examination Content Outline.

These two terms, ‘leading and directing’ are identified and explained under 5 domains, the 5 important roles a PMP® professional is required to perform.

  • Initiating– Project initiation is the first phase of a project lifecycle, you need to document your role in defining the opportunity, creating the high-level scope, preparing a business case, identifying stakeholders. You may also include the effort you put in for team selection and set up the project office.
  • Planning– This is a critical activity of a project manager which begins with a high-level scope, preparing the detailed scope statement, creating work breakdown structure, once the scope is documented you are also required to identify task/activities to be performed. Other activities like, allocating resources, schedule analysis, critical path analysis, planning to recruit more human resources to get some part of the job done, which is Procurement Planning, communication planning et al falls under this domain.
  • Executing– Now, it’s time to get the work done, since you have sequenced the activities, allocated them to concerned people. You ensure the exact execution of the plan in adherence to quality and scope planning. You also perform conflict resolution, and individual performance assessment under this domain.
  • Controlling & Monitoring– This is all about ensuring that we are working as per our planning. Change management is the most important activity of this domain. Controlling scope, maintaining risk register and keeping an eye on the vendor that he is adhering to his contract falls under this domain.
  • Closing– This the act of final acceptance, documentation of all the learning during the project, archiving documents, updating organization process assets, taking final acceptance from the customers. Whatever legal formalities are required to close the project falls under this domain.

Now, comes how to fill Work Experience Details In PMP® Application Form? It is a very simple 5 step process with PMP sample application.

  • Project Information– Title of the project, start and end date, and the role you played in that project. The role may not match with your designation. There is one another field called the industry in which you worked.
  • Organization Details– Physical address, contact details, Office locations including where you performed your duties
  • Organization Contact– Email and contact details, and the relationship between you and the primary contact person in that organization. In case you get selected for the audit you have to take the signature of this particular person so make sure you identify an individual who is approachable.
  • Hours Per Domain Area– A PMP® applicant is required to document the specific hours spent in each of these 5 PMI Process Groups individually. Once you are done documenting and calculating your Project hours, you will reduce the total project work hours. It is important to note that you should have 4500 hours in total but it is not necessary that you should have experience in all the domains under a given project, but yes you should have experience in all domains in totality. Try not to have a parallel project, since only one project would be considered in any case. You can use the following simple calculation to calculate project hours: You can merely multiply the average number of working days in a month with the average number of productive hours in a day. You can subtract days from the month which were holidays or leaves. The result of this calculation again multiplied with the number of months you worked in the project. Let’s say you have worked eight months in a project and approx. 6 hours are your productive time in a day. Assuming you worked 20 days in a month, then the total number of hours for the project would be 960 hours calculated from 8*20*6. In the next section, I will explain how to divide these total hours into process groups.
  • Project Experience Summary– Try to pick activities from all those five processes where you have spent work hours and summarize them under this head. Following are the guidelines for better present your experience:
    • Start with a project goal: The very first step in all projects is to recognize its outcome expected from the business. So, start the project description with a one-sentence final project outcome, which is “what” will the project accomplish? Like a hospital management system may have a goal that patients will not wait longer than 30 minutes to see a doctor.
    • Think, in each project, what you did process group wise: You need to segregate project total hours calculated above in process groups. So, it is crucial that you invest time to deeply think what you did in the project and in which process group these activities belong. Afterward, snap up your thought with approx. how much time you invested doing these activities from project total hours.  And based on this reflection, segregate total project hours in process groups. In this way, the outcome of this thought process would be the allocation of approx. the number of hours to each process group and the work which you did for those process groups.

Please note, as mentioned earlier project management experience is required in each of the process areas when all projects are totaled, but not on each project. It is entirely acceptable that you are not showing experience from all process groups in a project. Just try to make sure, that overall you are presenting your expertise in all of the process groups out from all the projects. If your application is mentioning one or two activities from all process groups, your application is good to go.

    • Start writing project description: Once you listed down tasks and the total number of hours for each process group, mention the description in a way which communicates your experience well using appropriate tools & techniques and outputs in align with the PMBOK® and PMP® content outline.

When you are writing the project description, you need to use the maximum available space for better-presenting experience. You have limited 500 characters to present a project experience. So, it is important to avoid writing words which don’t add value and eat space unnecessarily. Like I was Involved…My responsibilities were…I was involved in each phase of the project…. , and any description which is not understandable who was not involved in the project or which is industry specific. Focus more to align with PMP® content outline tasks.

  • The format of Project Description: Now come to the format of the description which is given and recommended by PMI:
    • A brief, one-sentence objective: as mentioned in “Start with a project goal”
    • Your role and responsibilities: Here you need to mention your responsibilities Process Group Wise aligned with PMP® content outline as I described in “Start writing project description” section. No need to say explicitly like my responsibilities were…You can just start after one sentence project objective.

You need to summarize deliverables by process groups (Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing) – abbreviations are acceptable – IN, PL, EX, MC, and CL

When you describe process group wise tasks description, it should also communicate the output of that activity, like Worked with Stakeholders in the workshop for REQ Document. Here in minimum words, you mentioned many things like you did not create a requirement document in silos. You worked with stakeholders. By naming tools and techniques, you increased the weight of description. Here, Requirement Document is the output.

Based on the above guideline, a project experience summary look like the following:

Goal: One sentence project goal as mentioned in “Start with a project goal” section
IN: mention initiation process group activities which you did in the project including the outcome of that activity.
PL: mention planning process group activities which you did in the project including the outcome of that activity.

EX: mention execution process group activities which you did in the project including the outcome of that activity.

MC: mention monitoring and controlling process group activities which you did in the project including the outcome of that activity.

CL: mention closing process group activities which you did in the project including the outcome of that activity.

Once again, I am emphasizing that while mentioning your experience in IN, PL, EX, MC, and CL, please take care guidelines which are discussed in “Think, in each project, what you did process group wise” and “Start writing project description” sections.

Following is the PMP® experience example for your reference:

Obj– Develop a mobile app to book a car service & deliver it within 24 hours
IN: Involved in conflict management in developing the project charter
PL- involved in discovering stakeholders needs, actively engaged in developing an overall project management plan.

EX- Completed project deliverables; developed team using interpersonal & team skills
MC-Responsible to control scope, quality, cost, schedule & managing stakeholder’s engagements& monitoring risks

CL-prepared lesson learned document & benefit realization report

Lastly, just ensure you have the right primary contact, who is approachable in case your application gets selected for PMI® Audit Process.
I hope this blog has sufficiently answered your all queries related to how to fill in Work Experience Details in PMP® Application Form. Good Luck with your PMP® Certification Exam.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does the PMP® application take to process?

Answer: PMI takes 5-10 calendar days to verify your eligibility criteria with respect to your submitted experience and/or education.
In case upon PMP® application submission, your application has been selected for an audit it is up to you to close this process ASAP. PMI® gives you 90 days to submit the supporting documentation. Once PMI receives your documents, they usually take 5 business days to complete the audit

Can I take the PMP® exam without experience?

Answer: You can start preparing in case you have not earned a minimum of 4500 hours  (if you have a degree) of experience to 7500 hours (If you have a secondary degree). You can earn 35 contact hours and start preparing, once you have sufficient experience, you can submit the PMP® application. Many candidates do it in case they lack a couple of months of experience for the eligibility.

Can I get a PMP® certification without a degree?

Answer: Yes, in that case, you need to show more experience compared to degree holders. You need to fulfill 7500 hours of experience. This can be earned in 5 years of work experience.

How many work days are 4500 hours?

Answer: You can use the following simple calculation: 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. If we consider around two weeks of holidays in a year, we get approx. 50 work weeks and which deduce to 250 work days or 2000 hours in a year.

Should it be a continuous experience of 4500 hours? How does PMI treat Gap?

Answer: You need to earn these 4500 hours within the last eight consecutive years prior to your application submission. For more details, please refer to the following blog: I Am Experienced, But Unemployed. Am I Eligible For PMP® Certification?  

I do not have a formal project management role, but I did PM work in bits and pieces. Am I eligible to apply?

Answer: PMI® is not expecting a formal project manager role for this certification. For more details, please refer blog My Designation Is Not Project Manager – AM I Eligible For PMP® Certification? 

My manager has left this organization. Whom should I add as a reference to validate my experience?

Answer: You can add any contact person from your organization who can verify your project experience details.
Get a senior peer as a contact person who has a clear idea of the project and its work and also about your responsibilities on that project at that time.

My experience spans over three different companies. Do I need to get the contact details of each reporting manager?

Answer: Well, you need to mention the contact person of each project who can verify your experience. If these projects belong to different companies, then you need to specify the contact details accordingly. You have to provide details of a contact person who can verify your work experience, and it could be your reporting manager or a senior peer.

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You may also like to watch a video presentation on how to fill the work experience details in PMP® Application Form.