This is the perfect time of year to be thinking about your personal and professional goals. Every year should be the year that you improve your project management skills, and for many people, getting certified is the perfect way to demonstrate their knowledge.

The PMI Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential is recognized around the world. It’s a demanding qualification that shows employers and your colleagues that you know how to manage projects and can prove it.

Proving it comes in the form of having to demonstrate your experience by documenting the previous work you have done in a project environment so it is not for first-time project managers. It’s a lot of work to apply and then to prepare for the exam. However, it’s worth it because there are career benefits to getting PMP® certified, and there are also spin off personal benefits too.

Here are 5 reasons why project managers decide to take the PMP® exam. Which of these are relevant to you?

1. Your project management skills will get better

You know lots about managing projects already or you wouldn’t be considering the PMP® exam. But there is always more to learn. A rounded qualification like the PMP® credential is a good way to brush up your skills in the areas where you are least confident.

The great thing about the skills covered by and tested by the exam is that they aren’t tool specific. So whether you manage your project scheduling with Primavera Reader or another tool, they will still apply.

Going through the activities related to studying, revising and preparing for the exam will improve your skills by default as you’ll be covering a broad range of topics that are totally relevant to your day job.

2. You’ll meet other people

Meeting other people

A personal benefit of deciding to study for the exam is that lots of other people are doing it to. You can join a local study group. Your local PMI Chapter may have one that you can sign up to, or there might be one organized by your employer if your company is large enough.

The PMI Chapter near you, or other project management organization, is another great place to meet people. You can talk to them about their experiences of studying for professional qualifications and learn from their practical advice.

New contacts mean lots of things: different stories to help you consolidate your book learning, but also new possibilities for networking and job opportunities. Cultivate the relationships you make while you are studying as you never know where they might lead!

3. You might get promoted

You might get promoted

I can’t guarantee that a promotion is on the cards but employers do take project management certifications seriously. Whether they pay for you to take it or not, share your exam results with your manager and let them know that you are serious about this career path.

Not all employers require project managers to hold credentials in the subject and even if yours doesn’t you may still benefit from the perception of being a professional in your field. There might be new opportunities that come your way. You may have more chance of securing a pay rise. If nothing else, your new found and tested skills may help you succeed on larger projects, signalling to your boss that you are ready for a new challenge.

It all depends on your employer and the market, but it certainly won’t hurt!

4. You can put it on your resumé

I know that you might not be job hunting right now. Even so, you can add your PMP® success to your resumé and your LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t hurt to keep your career history up to date so that if the right opportunity comes along you are ready.

Candidates that are qualified in project management are often moved to the top of the interview list by recruiters, as long as they also have the practical experience to back that up (which you will have, if you have successfully applied for the PMP® exam). Having a credential might help you secure that important first interview, and you can then go on to wow them with your skills!

Credentials can also make your application stand out from the others. They can be a way of weeding out candidates and while hiring managers need to take lots of factors into consideration, if you have a lot of applicants for the job it can be a simple way of cutting down the long list.

5. Your salary might increase

Research from PMI shows that a project manager’s mean salary increases in the United States by $18,500 if they have successfully passed the PMP® exam. Admittedly, it’s impossible to promise that passing the exam and getting the letters after your name will automatically see you getting a pay rise. Pay rises often come when you change jobs, so unless you’ve agreed something specific with your manager in advance of your exam results, you might have to switch to a new role to see that increase.

Having said that, switching to a new role might be easier if you’ve got the qualifications to back up your application.

The studying pays off financially over time, and that goes for lots of countries, not just the USA. Qualified project managers earn more, so it’s likely that taking the qualification as early as you can in your career could have a marked effect on your lifetime earning power. Another reason to do it this year!

Are you going to take a qualification course this year? Let us know in the comments below.