What is the PMI-SP Scheduling Certification?
PMI-SP® is the PMI Scheduling Professional credential.
It is aimed at people with an advanced knowledge of project scheduling i.e. developing, managing, updating and maintaining schedules. If you want people to know that you are good at that kind of thing, then the certification is a good one to showcase your skills.
The exam doesn’t simply focus on the discipline of scheduling. It looks at scheduling as it affects project management in the round, and vice versa, so you need a good general knowledge of project management to be able to take the exam successfully.
What are the PMI-SP® Application Requirements?
You can apply for PMI-SP if you meet the application requirements. These are:
four-year degree, plus:
- 3,500 hours project scheduling experience
- 30 contact hours of formal education in project scheduling
secondary degree, or equivalent, plus:
- 5,000 hours project scheduling experience
- 40 contact hours of formal education in project scheduling
That is a lot of experience and a lot of formal training in a specific subject, but it is achievable. When you start to look at your prior experience you may find you have more experience and training than you thought!
The uCertify PMI-SP Course
I was given short-term access to the uCertify PMI-SP course. It’s a course you can work through in a day or so, it won’t take you very long if you have a good grasp of project management already. However, you’d want to allow adequate time to do the knowledge checks and sample tests to give yourself confidence that you are ready to pass the exam. You can bookmark areas of the course and there’s a nifty feature that lets you add a confidence level to a topic.
uCertify is a PMI Registered Education Provider. Here’s what I thought of the course.
The first couple of lessons of the course cover general orientation and background about the certification and the exam. The main bulk of the teaching material comes in lessons three to seven. These cover the PMI-SP exam objectives, which are:
- Schedule Strategy
- Schedule Planning and Development
- Schedule Monitoring and Controlling
- Schedule Closeout
- Stakeholder Communications Management.
Lesson Eight covers the cross-cutting knowledge and skills that as a project scheduler, you should know.
Then the course goes on to cover the schedule management tasks that you do when you are acting as a project scheduler. At that point in the course, you have covered all the PMI-SP exam objectives.
The final lesson looks at integrated schedule management and the project management processes that affect the schedule, which is helpful as it gives a ‘real life’ flavour to the material.
I was expecting there to be more on EVM but there wasn’t. That’s because EVM doesn’t feature heavily in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition either, and, of course, the material is drawn from that.
Positives about the course
The course is really comprehensive. I was reassured that I knew a lot more about scheduling than I expected before taking the course. The course content is the scheduling related content from the PMBOK® Guide. So if you are already a PMP® you won’t find it difficult to pick up the material.
I liked that there were mini tests so you can gauge how good you are at understanding and applying the course material. The practice exams were helpful too.
The study planner was helpful too – it provides a realistic way to plan out your studies so that you can cover all the material before the exam.
The course includes knowledge checks, flash cards, glossaries and end of chapter tests. Today, all of this is expected in online training so it’s good to know that uCertify has adopted those techniques. It’s also good that you get explanations to help you understand what you didn’t get right in the exercises.
For example, there are drag and drop knowledge checks. It works perfectly on an iPad and provides helpful pointers if you don’t get the answers right.
The course comes with the opportunity to connect with the tutor too, which I didn’t take up. I can see some students finding this valuable.
I loved that the course included calculators so you can test out some of the formulae.
Overall, the course links the whole of the PMBOK® Guide to scheduling. The course is more comprehensive than I expected which reflects the challenges of the exam.
Not so good elements of the course
The course material references PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition, which is not the most up to date version. I don’t feel that much on scheduling has changed, and the exam content outline hasn’t changed since 2012, so the training course material is still accurate. But it doesn’t look good that the core reference text is out of date.
There are several areas of the course that talk about the ‘book’. It felt to me that the online training course has been heavily adapted from a PMI-SP prep book. It would be a smoother user experience if the references to ‘book’ were replaced with ‘course’ or something similar. There are videos that have been created specifically for the uCertify course, so the book’s material has been adapted to fit the online training format, so it’s a shame that terminology hasn’t been updated to match.
I wasn’t sure who the instructor was. I might have missed that part? The text talks about “I” and he does feature in the videos, but it would have been nice to have been signposted to more about the instructor more clearly.
Sometimes it looked like the index didn’t update to reflect that I had completed a section, even though I had been through it. That might have been a glitch specific to me, and overall it didn’t affect the ability to do the course – I knew what areas I had completed.
Is PMI-SP® Worth It?
PMI-SP® is a niche certification. If you are heavily involved in a large project with many scheduling constraints or requirements, then it may be valuable to you. Equally, if you love scheduling, then you’ll find the course relatively straight forward and it’s always good to have certifications!
The PMI Project Management Salary Survey (2018) doesn’t specifically call out PMI-SP as a certification, but it does talk about the average salaries of someone in a project management specialist role. Assuming that a ‘specialist’ could reasonably be someone with a certification specialty in scheduling, the median salary for a UK project management specialist is $62,483 ($90k in the USA).
It’s hard to say whether any project management credential is worth it – not every certification is going to be worth it to everyone. Take a look at what people in your industry have and make a judgment call about whether it would materially add to your CV or resume. If you think it would, or if you would like to do it for personal/professional reasons anyway, then go ahead and take the exam!
What is the PMI-SP exam like?
Once you’ve taken the course (or a similar one), you’ll be ready for the exam.
The PMI-SP examination has 170 test questions, of which only 150 test questions actually count towards your score. In common with other PMI exams, the difference accounts for pre-test questions. These are scattered through the exam. You won’t know which ones they are, and they won’t count towards your total exam pass/fail. These questions are being tested to see if they are appropriate to use as ‘real’ questions.
By the way, there’s no published pass mark for the PMI-SP exam, so all you will get is a pass or fail mark (again, that’s the same as other PMI exams).
How long is the exam?
The PMI-SP exam is 3.5 hours long.
The online test software lets you mark certain questions to revisit later if you have time. This is a handy feature so you can quickly pass over questions that need a bit more thought and bank all the easy wins first.
The uCertify course also has the option to mark and review questions so you can get used to the format in the tests.
As with other PMI courses, you’ll find out on the day if you have passed or not.
The PMI-SP® course and certification provide a niche professional path to those who want to prove their worth in scheduling. The credential helps you evidence your detailed knowledge of how to plan and schedule, and how those activities impact other areas of project management.