Becoming Certified via Project Management Institute Can Lead to Higher Pay and Less Debt

Pmi Certifications Can Lead To Better Jobs Less Debt
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Matt Walker
By: Matt Walker
Updated: February 26, 2021
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In a Nutshell: Debt is a burden for millions of U.S. residents. And while side hustles may be suitable for some, others may find more success working to level up in their current career. Project Management Institute helps facilitate these career moves through its multiple project management certification programs. Not only have the organization’s certifications been proven to result in a salary boost for many, it also provides members with access to a global network of more than 600,000 people. PMI is also looking to the future and helping clients embrace the digital transformation through its new Citizen Developer platform.

Millions of U.S. residents struggle with debt every year, and the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this issue for many in 2020. In fact, about 80% of Americans are carrying debt of one kind or another, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Thankfully, people can explore a number of avenues that may help them get ahead in their career and reduce debt.

Project Management Institute LogoSide hustles have become increasingly popular in recent years, but leveling up your qualifications in your current career is also a solid move that may land you in a higher paying position.

Certifications exist across nearly every profession these days, and some carry more weight than others.

But in the world of project management, Project Management Institute (PMI) is well known for its variety of certifications that produce real results when it comes to helping people gain a needed (and deserved) boost in their career.

“Projects are run everywhere in the world, which is why project management experience and expertise is so valuable,” said Sierra Hampton-Simmons, PMI’s Director and Portfolio Leader, Certification Products. “As more organizations are finding themselves working and collaborating in new ways, they are leaning on employees at all levels of the organization to create change.”

Project Management Institute is the leading association for those who consider project, program or portfolio management their profession, according to the organization.

Helping Individuals and Organizations Build Skills to Achieve Desired Project Outcomes

Hampton-Simmons said that since its founding in 1969, Project Management Institute has been committed to helping both individuals and organizations build the skills necessary to ensure successful, goal-achieving project outcomes.

“Our globally recognized certifications enable project professionals to demonstrate a comprehensive skill set that show both employers and clients they’re more than capable of running effective projects, thereby widening their job prospects and potentially increasing their salary,” Hampton-Simmons explained.

Sierra Hampton-Simmons

Sierra Hampton-Simmons is PMI’s Director and Portfolio Leader, Certification Products.

PMI offers a range of certifications, including risk management, agile project management, and scheduling. But the organization’s most popular is Project Management Professional (PMP)® which focuses on overarching skills that can be applied to any project, Hampton-Simmons said.

“All transformative change happens through projects, and project managers are the changemakers who are perfectly poised to take on these challenges given their unique ability to turn ideas into reality,” she said.

The global nature of the PMP certification leads to a well-rounded project manager capable of taking on responsibilities in a variety of industries and settings, Hampton-Simmons said.

“This exam is updated over time to ensure it reflects the current business landscape as much as possible, most recently being revamped at the start of this year,” she explained.

PMI’s 11th edition of Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey showed that survey respondents with a PMP certification reported higher median salaries than those without a PMP certification ― 22% higher on average across the 42 countries surveyed. In the United States, survey respondents who were PMP certified reported median salaries that were 26% higher than those who were not PMP certified ($120,000 vs. $95,000).

“PMI also provides other certification programs, including the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certifications, to help professionals, who hold different roles and are at different stages of their career, advance their careers and catalyze transformative change through projects,” Hampton-Simmons said.

Building a Network is Key to a Successful Career

It’s no secret that networking can be a key component in building a successful career, and Project Management Institute subscribes to this tenet as well.

“PMI’s chapter network provides like-minded project managers the ability to make connections with others who are driving the field of project management forward,” Hampton-Simmons said. “From those just starting out in the field to veterans at the top of their careers, networking facilitates the sharing of ideas and allows project managers to further their connections with one another, potentially leading to new relevant job opportunities.”

Online Certification Image

PMI offers a variety of certifications but the universal nature of its PMP program helps to make it the most popular certification.

Events and seminars are another great way to expand one’s network. Participants can learn by hearing challenges from people who have faced similar obstacles in the past.

“PMI’s 2020 Virtual Experience Series was a great way for project professionals at every level to come together and learn how to navigate the new challenges and changes of our world in an inspiring and engaging way,” Hampton-Simmons said.

The organization has more than 600,000 members and 300 local chapters all over the world.

And being a member of PMI is a two-way street as the company values input from its members.

“PMI is always listening for feedback in a variety of ways, from social media to volunteers to PMI chapter members,” Hampton-Simmons said. “The feedback that has been most apparent to us recently is that project managers are experimenting with more agile ways of working due to the pandemic, and even before that.”

Project professionals need to be able to choose the best way of working for the project at hand, and PMI stays vigilant so it can continue to ensure its certification processes and exams are as relevant as possible, she said.

“We’ve also in the past year released numerous new online courses, including the Basics of Disciplined Agile course covering the foundations of agile,” Hampton-Simmons said.

Joining the Digital Transformation with the Citizen Developer Framework

Speaking of listening and improving, PMI recently launched its Citizen Developer platform.

“Given the pace of work today, people need to be able to leverage technology, including custom apps and software solutions, to help them deliver outcomes efficiently and effectively,” Hampton-Simmons said. “PMI is excited about our recently released Citizen Developer suite of products, aimed to help businesses and professionals foster citizen development skills in order to create business tools and solutions at all levels of the organization.”

Citizen development is powered by the development and enhancement of no-code/low-code software platforms, which are easily mastered by individuals with limited technology expertise, she explained.

“The program is focused on helping employees learn the foundations and best practices of citizen development, helping improve project productivity,” Hampton-Simmons said.


Digital transformation requires a team, according to the company. But 86% of IT decision-makers report that the biggest challenge in front of them in digitally transforming their businesses is that there are too few software developers.

“That’s where the power of citizen development comes in — with no-code/low-code platforms, anyone can build applications without software expertise, significantly faster, and at a fraction of the cost,” according to the company. “But first, you need to learn how to use the tools you have.”

This means having a system in place to oversee the environment, mitigate risk, and unlock the full potential of citizen development.

“In addition to our Citizen Developer suite of products, PMI is also planning multiple new online courses and micro-certification opportunities throughout 2021 to ensure project managers can continue to future-proof their careers and income,” Hampton-Simmons said.

So, whether you’re looking for ways to pay down debt faster or simply looking to take the next step in your career, Project Management Institute may have the right certification for you.