review work experience to check if I have up to 3 years of Project Management Experience to meet the PMP exam requirement

How do I review my work experience to check if I have up to 3 years of Project Management Experience to meet the PMP exam requirement?

To write the PMP exam, the PMP exam requirement includes having Project Management experience. I will be addressing the experience needed if you are a graduate (hold a university degree). For a graduate, PMI requires up to 3 years of Project Management experience.

In this post, I explain how to review your work experience to check if you have up to 3 years of Project Management Experience to meet the PMP exam requirement. This is very important for professionals who do not have Project Manager or a Project Management job title. You need approximately 3 years of PM experience; assuming an 8-hour, 5-days work week to write the PMP Exam.

I also discuss the PMP exam application form and how to complete the Project Management experience section

How to calculate your Project Management experience from your years of work experience

According to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide); a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

Hence even if you don’t have the title of a Project Manager; but you are involved in and lead the creation of product, services or results that are one-off or non-operational; you can count these as part of your Project Management experience.

For Example; you may be a Branch Manager at a bank and lead the project to upgrade various software tools used; those upgrades are projects. Interesting right? There is more.

So how do you count these 3 years/36 months of project experience. One thing to note is that PMI requires that you have at least 3 years/36 unique months of project management experience.

For individuals with a university degree (that is a bachelor’s degree); PMI requires that you have at least 3 years/36 unique months of project management experience; and at least 4500 hours spent leading and directing the project.

What PMI means by unique months is that if you were working on 2 projects that were overlapping over some months; you count the overlapping months once.

For example, if you worked on Project A from January to June and Project B from March to October; though they were 2 unique projects; you cannot count 6 months for Project A and 8 months for Project B making 14 months in total; the total months to be reported is from January to October which is 10 months.

Now, let us dig into our work experience to check if we can get 3 years/36 unique months

Get a writing material, it can be a pen and paper, your laptop, phone, tablet. Anything you can use to take notes.

We would think through each year of our work experience and in each year, write out any activity that was not operational; any activity that has a start date and an end date (remember the definition of a project). Please note that the work experience should be within 8 years as any experience that is more than 8 years old won’t be accepted.

Now, write down each of those activities, hours spent on each activity as well as their start and end dates.

For example, if I am a Corporate Services Manager; see my projects below:

  • Implementation of a new Finance tool: January 2015 – June 2015: 8 hours daily
  • On boarding a new service provider: May 2015 – July 2015: 4 hours weekly
  • Training staff on the new Finance tool: August 2015 – January 2016: 8 hours daily
  • Upgrading the HR tool: February 2016 – July 2016: 8 hours daily
  • Training on the HR tool: August 2016 – January 2017: 8 hours daily
  • Commissioning a new document repository: February 2018 – October 2018: 8 hours weekly
  • Decommissioning an old document repository: September 2018 – November 2018: 8 hours weekly

From the example above; let us calculate your unique months and number of hours

Remember that you need approximately 3 years / 36 unique months of experience; assuming an 8-hour, 5-days work week to write the PMP Exam. Assuming 52 weeks in a year

  • January 2015 – June 2015: 6 unique months (half of a year; hence 52 divided by 2 is 26). The hours spent: 1040 hours (8 hours a day x 5 days a week x 26 weeks = 1040 hours)
  • May 2015 – July 2015: 3 months but 2 unique months. The hours: 4 hours every week; 3 months is quarter of a year, hence its 13 weeks; the hours spent is 52 hours (4 hours a week x 13 weeks = 52 hours)
  • August 2015 – January 2016; 8 hours daily: 6 unique months with 1040 hours
  • February 2016 – July 2016; 8 hours daily: 6 unique months with 1040 hours
  • August 2016 – January 2017: 8 hours daily: 6 unique months with 1040 hours
  • February 2018 – October 2018: 8 hours weekly: 9 unique months with 1560 hours (8 hours weekly x 39 weeks = 312 hours)
  • September 2018 – November 2018; 8 hours weekly: 3 months (13 weeks in a year) but 1 unique month. For hours: 104 hours (8 hours weekly x 13 weeks = 104 hours)

From the above, we have 36 unique months and 4,628 hours which meets the PMP project management experience requirement of 36 unique months and at least 4,500 hours.

I hope this helps you calculate if you have up to 3 years of project management experience and meet the project management experience requirement to write the PMP exam. Please note that this is not the only requirement you have to meet in order to write the PMP exam, find out about the PMP exam requirement.

Completing the PMP application form

To write the exam, you need to complete an application on the Project Management Institute (PMI) website. The only authorized institute that administers the PMP Exam is PMI. Hence, application for the exam and approval to write the exam, goes through PMI only.

When filling out the application; you will need to complete the following in the experience section:

  • The project title for each of the projects being reported
  • The number of hours spent under each of the process groups while delivering the project. That is; the number of hours spent in initiation, planning, execution, monitoring & controlling and close process groups.
  • A brief summary of the work you did across the process groups indicated in each project reported
  • A contact person that can attest to the validity of each project reported. This is the proof that what you reported (hours and work done) is accurate for each project

Check out how to write clear project descriptions and a perfect example on it.

Things to Note

You don’t need to have hours in all the process groups for each project; however, you need to have experience (hours) in all the process groups after reporting all the projects that make up your 3 years’ experience.

The word count for the work summary is very limited so it is essential that you use keywords, that is; Project language to describe the work completed across each project being reported.

For example, when writing out the work description for a project under the Planning process group; if you helped develop the Project Management Plan, you don’t have to describe the Project Management Plan document. You could just write; I led the development of the Project Management Plan.

For application tips, check out this post by PMI


If you have any questions or contribution, please do so by leaving a comment in the comment section below.

If this was useful, please share it with a PMP aspirant using the share buttons below.


Wondering how to pass the PMP Exam? Get my FREE PMP Exam Checklist. It contains the 6 powerful tips that I used to prepare, study and pass the PMP Exam with above target in all domains at my first attempt.


You can share this post using any of the buttons below

2 thoughts on “How do I review my work experience to check if I have up to 3 years of Project Management Experience to meet the PMP exam requirement?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *