What is PMI?

Professional Training
Professional Training. Tom Merton/OJO Images/Getty Images

This is a question we get asked a lot. The short answer is: PMI is the Project Management Institute.

PMI is a membership organization that aims to provide members with the tools and network they need to make a difference as project managers and succeed in their careers.

What Does PMI Do?

PMI bills itself as “the world's leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program and portfolio management profession”.

It was set up in 1969 by a small group of dedicated project managers who wanted to do something to bring people in their emerging discipline together. It advocates for project managers, and has a thriving education program which offers project management classes in schools, amongst other things. It also sponsors higher education students for academic research.

For the project-manager-on-the-street it offers a range of publications and professional events to help you build your network and improve your skills. The Pulse of the Professional annual reports offer an in-depth look at various aspects of project management from assessing the value of what project managers do to highlighting the cost of poor communication.

Importantly, it also manages a code of ethics for project managers.

Finally, it administers a range of qualifications.

What Certifications Does PMI Offer?

PMI offers a number of project management credentials, and there’s something for everyone.

For example, if you are just starting out in your career then their Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® is a great entry-level qualification.

If you have more experience, you can go straight for their flagship certification, Project Management Professional (PMP)®.

They also offer a wide range of specialist qualifications including:

  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)®
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®

As you can see there is a huge range there, so whatever skills you want to improve or prove to employers, PMI will have something that suits you.

What Can PMI Do For Me?

As well as certification schemes, membership of PMI offers other opportunities as well. You can simply pay to be a member of PMI, or pay a bit extra and join your local Chapter. Both have advantages, so if there is no Chapter near you (which is unlikely, frankly) then you can still gain a lot from membership.

PMI members receive a scholarly journal once a quarter called The Project Management Journal. There’s also a monthly magazine and a quarterly membership news bulletin. You’ll also get access to a huge range of online resources including research studies, back issues and an article library which is not available to non-members. You can join as an individual, student or retiree.

Where Can I Find PMI?

There are PMI Chapters all over the world in Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and North America.

There’s a complete list of all the Chapters here. It won’t be hard to find a group that meets near you. And if there isn’t one, why not start one?

PMI is also active online, through the ProjectManagement.com and ProjectsAtWork.com online communities.

Can I Meet the Members?

Yes! Go along to a local Chapter event and introduce yourself. You don’t have to be a member to attend many of the events put on by local Chapters – just check before you turn up. Sometimes events have a fee attached to them.

Another great way of meeting project managers who are members of PMI is to go along to one of the Global Congress events. These are held in the major world regions where PMI has a presence so they will normally involve you travelling to the host city. The 2015 EMEA Global Congress, for example, was held in London and project managers from all over the region travelled to take part.

The 2016 event is scheduled to be in Spain, so the locations change from year to year to enable more people to make it and to give different local Chapters the chance to host.

Big Global Congress events attract a lot of project managers, but even smaller Chapter-led conferences are a great place to meet members of PMI and to find out what benefits it could offer you.

Find out more on the official PMI website.

This article is up-to-date as of November 2015.