I am a member of a few groups on the social media site, Linkedin.com. Recently, a member of the group called "Project Manager Community" asked the following question : "Does having a PMP state you're a better PM compared to one that doesn't have this certification?".
So far, there are more than 110 comments and they are still continuing to be added.
My answer was to comment that it is not just the qualification, but that it must be combined with experience to make a good PM. The depth of knowledge that the PMP exam makes each candidate understand is far superior than any other PM exam that I have seen, or indeed taken. Each candidate must know the PMBoK inside out and understand the complexities and dependencies of project management.
However, the exam alone does not mean you are a better project manager. A project manager must have other skills to compliment the PMP qualification, such as communication, negotiation, team building and visionary skills. These skills are difficult to obtain from a book, but are usually learnt on the job, through mentors and experience.
I have always stated that my father installed a mantra of "Education, Education, Education" into me. Since leaving university I have tried to study and complete at least one exam every year. This is key for my role as a consultant, to keep on top of the latest trends and developments, seeing as I work predominantly in IT, which is constantly moving forward with new technologies and techniques. The PMP candidate does not stop their education once they have passed the exam, but they must take ownership of their own continual education through the Personal Development Units, which are snippets of education or Project Management roles, presentations, mentoring and other community based activities to keep up their qualification. This shows a level of personal dedication and willingness to better themselves in their chosen career.
In terms of PM qualifications, I have been fortunate enough to take the Prince2, PMP, RMP and MSP exams. The toughest exam so far has been the PMP, but it was also the one I most enjoyed. The depth of knowledge gained from read the PMBoK far outweighed the knowledge I already had from Prince2. The Prince2 exam focused on a methodology and processes, whereas the PMP exam took to candidate through the tools and techniques to deliver a project without the confinement of a structured, defined workflow.
As both a candidate and an employer, I feel that the difference between a candidate with the PMP qualification, is that they have the overview and understanding of delivery… which is what Project Management is all about. A PMP is not confined to a particular methodology, a particular template or toolset, but is a rounded Project Manager who is able to apply their trade to any project in any corporation within any business sector. For the employer, there is a certain "comfort level" with a candidate who has undertaken the PMP exam. For the employee, there is the comfort level in having a solid foundation, with a common language of Project Management.
On a final note, I have to confirm that just by having a PMP does not make a person a great Project Manager. Experience matters, but combining years of experience with a depth of knowledge and continuous learning allows the Project Manager to be the best that they can be.