By Tim Dalhouse
In my 3 years of teaching Project Management Professional (PMP®) preparation courses, or PMP® Boot Camps, I’ve taught for 7 companies using 6 different curriculua and graduated well over 500 students. And, I thought it’s about time to share what I’ve learned about how you should be choosing your PMP training provider, because all of them ARE NOT created equal!
I’ve taught for a few great organizations with solid processes and programs, while others are simply clever marketing machines who do a good job of taking your money, but not such a good job of providing quality training. Unfortunately, the PMP training industry has a large segment of providers who have adopted a shady business model that you are probably not aware of, and probably would not approve of, if you knew. Let me explain what I mean:
Many PMP training providers have no instructors on staff, and usually do not find an instructor for the course until they already have your money. The only qualification for their last minute instructor is that they hold the PMP credential, and that they are willing to teach for the pay they offer, which oftentimes is not sufficient to attract a quality instructor in the first place.
I can say that because I’ve been contacted at least 20 times on a Thursday or Friday by different companies who just found me through LinkedIn and want me to teach a class on Monday because they already have 4 or 5 students who have paid for the course. They are willing to take a chance on hiring an instructor they don’t know, who has never seen their curriculum before, and may have no real expertise in teaching…because they are in a tight position with paid students, no instructor, and 3 days before class starts. I have accepted the ones that paid what I know I am worth, but turned down many who offered well under what a quality PMP instructor should be paid. But, I bet they found someone willing to take their low pay.
I won’t mention any names in this article, because my intent is not to disparage any specific businesses, but rather to make you an informed consumer. However, if I did mention names, you would be surprised; don’t let a well-known name or a spiffy website fool you. Instead, I will focus my comments on teaching you the 5 questions you should ask of any PMP training provider before you enroll in their course.
1. Who is the Instructor for the Course & What are His/Her Qualifications?
This is by far the most important factor in choosing a PMP training provider, and I bet half of the companies on the market can’t answer this one at the time you register. What you are looking for here is an instructor who obviously has the PMP credential, didn’t just get it yesterday, has practical experience as a working project manager, and actually has well-documented experience teaching it. I would even ask to see their resume or LinkedIn profile. If the instructor is no good, then you are not going to be prepared for the PMP exam. Just because someone has the PMP doesn’t even come close to meaning that they know how to teach it to you.
2. May I Speak with the Instructor Before I Register?
If the provider can’t answer question 1, then they can’t answer question 2; but, if you find one that will identify the instructor for you up front, then ask for their contact information so you can speak with them. Everyone going into a PMP prep course is nervous, and has some concerns; ask your instructor how they will address your concerns in class, and see if you think you might be comfortable trusting this person with preparing you for the very challenging task of passing the PMP Exam.
3. May I Speak with Past Students of the Instructor?
If you ask them for testimonials in general, they will surely produce some great comments from past students that will wow you into thinking you will have the same experience. However, those testimonials might not be about YOUR instructor. If the training provider can’t or won’t produce contact info of their graduates who will attest to the abilities of your instructor, then they either don’t have a history of working with your instructor, or they don’t have a student support program that builds community among its learners. Teaching is an art, and you want to make sure that your instructor has impressed other students with an ability to effectively convey the complex reasoning required to answer PMP Exam situational questions.
4. What is Your Instructor Audit Process?
This one will blow them away when you ask it! Only 1 out of the 7 organizations I’ve taught for has ever audited me to see what I’m actually doing in the classroom. Most training providers rely solely on student comment sheets to determine whether their instructors are providing quality training – but, what do the students know…they haven’t even taken the PMP Exam yet, so how would a student know if the instruction was on target? Training providers should have a quality inspector periodically popping into classes to make sure instructors are training you correctly.
5. What is Your After-Class Support System to Help Me Study Effectively?
Most training providers don’t offer any after-class support, unless you pay for additional services like access to an online exam simulator or a set of voiced-over slide presentations. But, a good provider, who is more concerned about you passing the exam than milking you for extra money, will have a good system that starts with the ability to contact your instructor for assistance right up until your test date. They should provide you with a structured and timed plan that you can confidently follow to make sure your study is disciplined and focused on what you really need to concentrate on to pass the PMP Exam. I have developed a proven, 16-day study plan that is based on a 4-hour per day study effort that keeps students on track; you should look for something similar from your chosen training provider.
Ok, so there you have it: 5 questions you should ask your PMP training provider before you ever pay them a penny. Doing this may take some time and research, but you’re about to plunk down a large sum of money for this training, and you’re probably betting much of your career future on the outcome, so obviously it’s worth it!
Notice I didn’t say anything about asking if they were a PMI® Registered Education Provider (REP), what their exam pass guarantee is, what their exam pass rate is, or what the cost is. These really aren’t key indicators of the quality of the training…and, I think I’ll save that for another article, so please stay tuned!
I’m always available to help you; so, please let me know if I can assist you with anything related to PMP training, project management, or military transition. Thanks for reading!
Tim Dalhouse, MBA, PMP is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant who stumbled into a civilian career as a Project Manager and found it a perfect fit. He now makes it his mission to help other Veterans obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) credentials, and help DOD agencies & contractors increase their organizational project management maturity. He’s trained over 500 students around the country to master and apply the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) for consistent, real-world success. Email: email@example.com. Website: is https://timdalhouse.com