I recently conducted a transition knowledge session with a group of military personnel at a local military base. A couple of soldiers had earned a commercial certification on the job for IT and one of the Service members in the group had obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®.

Yes, the PMP® is Expensive…

I began to promote the lifetime benefits of getting certified to the group. Many had thought about getting certified but had not yet taken the first step. I explained to them that the even though the PMP® was not the only project management certification, it is one of the greatest enablers to a lifetime of job opportunities and additional increased cash flow after the military.  Frustrated, one young soldier stated that it cost a lot of money to get the PMP® Certification.  I agreed, confusing many in the room.

I explained that he was in fact correct: the boot camp could cost more than $3,000 and you might not get reimbursed. I further stated that he would probably need an additional $400 or more to test and he would have to invest 3 to 6 months worth of study and preparation to pass the PMP®. To reduce the financial pain and make the event less stressful, I recommended joining PMI® and a local chapter so that he could receive discounting on the examination, online materials and perhaps low-cost training through the chapter, while simultaneously networking with others trying to obtain certification.

…But it’s a lifetime investment

Bottom line, when you do the math, you could spend upwards of $3,500 or more to get certified. But the expenditure is a great financial investment; the return on investment (ROI) is staggering over a lifetime of professional work.  According to last year’s Project Management Salary Survey from PMI®, surveyed practitioners with a PMP® earned 20% more on average than their contemporaries without PMP®. Further, PMI® stated that the average wages for project managers in a projectized industry in the U.S., was over $100,000 a year.

So if you spend the money and invest the time to pass the PMP® exam up front, your could earn an extra $20,000 in your very first year as a commercial project manager. Further, you might end up being a project manager or work in the project management career field for 10, 15, or even 20 years. On numerous occasions, I received interview requests and landed jobs simply because of my PMP® and my experience. I was never asked about my undergraduate or graduate work during a post-military job interview. However, every potential employer asked about my PMP®.  They wanted to know if it was current and they wanted to know about my project management experience.

So, over the course of a post military career, being a certified project manager will enable you to demand $10-$20K more a year than you could make otherwise. Over the long-haul this could add up to a $100,000 to $200,000 difference for the initial $3,000 investment and three months of extracurricular work while you’re prepping for transition.  How is that for ROI?  You can read more about all of this in The Transitioning Military Project Manager!

So, are you still on the fence with regard to getting certified?

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at Gr8Transitions4U.com.