CMRP Certification: Everything You Need to Know

Person studying for CMRP certification

When it comes to passing the CMRP (Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional) exam, there’s a lot of information out there. Sometimes, answers can be hard to find, so we’ve put everything you need to know in one place. Here, we’ll discuss everything you wanted to know about the CMRP but were too afraid to ask.

What Is the CMRP?

The CMRP is a certification exam, and it’s the leading credential for validating knowledge and skills relating to maintenance, reliability, and physical asset management.

Who Offers the CMRP?

To understand what the CMRP is and what it’s intended to accomplish, it helps to know that it is owned by SMRP (Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals), a nonprofit organization. SMRP, in turn, is owned by its members, who are maintenance and reliability practitioners themselves. As such, it’s an organization made by practitioners for practitioners.

SMRP’s mission, vision, and values are all centered on promoting excellence in the maintenance and reliability profession, and they stem from a membership focus, on collaboration, continuous improvement, accountability, trust, integrity, and social responsibility.

After its founding in 1992, its members identified a need for certification to validate the skills and knowledge of practitioners. It is from here that the CMRP developed—to serve as a benchmark for maintenance and reliability best practices.

Since then, the SMRP has expanded to 60 countries across six continents, with over 7,000 members and more than 5,000 CMRPs, CMRTs, and CMA-certified practitioners. The organization has become the premier education opportunity for maintenance, reliability, and asset management.

Benefits of a CMRP Certification

Individual practitioners, such as maintenance technicians and reliability professionals, as well as whole companies can benefit from CMRP certification. Some of these benefits include the following.

Increased Hireability

Over 5,000 employers worldwide use the certification as a prerequisite for hiring. Even in cases where it’s not required, employment candidates are often moved to the top of the list if they’re CMRP certified. It’s a great way to advance your career since it shows employers, colleagues, and peers your commitment to continued education and training.

Widely Recognized Validation

It’s also worth noting that the CMRP is the only certification program that’s accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and it’s globally recognized with ISO standards.

Cost Savings for Organizations

According to a recent survey of SMRP members and certificants, 72% of respondents estimate that the practices covered in the exam have saved their organization at least $50,000 in the last year. Some of those respondents (37%) estimated savings of $1 million or more.

Metrics and Innovation

Meanwhile, 62% of leaders indicate that employing a CMRP or CMRT (Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technician) has improved operational metrics, such as OEE, for their company. On top of that, 45% of leaders indicate CMRTs / CMRPs increase their company’s ability to “think outside the box.”

Facts About the CMRP

Some basic facts about the CMRP include the following answers to common questions.

What Does the CMRP Encompass?

The exam assesses an individual’s aptitude within the five pillars of the SMRP’s body of knowledge. Those pillars are:

  • Business & Management
  • Manufacturing Process Reliability
  • Equipment Reliability
  • Organization & Leadership
  • Work Management

Each of these pillars details an area of maintenance, reliability, and physical asset management that individuals need to be proficient in to improve their careers.

How Do I Sign Up for the CMRP Exam?

Those who wish to take the exam must apply and pay online at SMRP’s website (after signing up for a login on their site).

How Long Is the Exam?

The CMRP exam is a timed test, with two and a half-hour limit. At 110 multiple-choice questions, that comes out to 1.7 minutes per question.

Where Can I Take the CMRP?

After registering online, you’ll be given a time and location that meets your needs. The SMRP has 5,000 test centers all over the world, so odds are there’s one near you.

How Long Until I Get the Results of My Exam?

You’ll find out immediately after the exam—within five minutes or so—whether you passed or failed.

Can I Take the CMRP in Languages Other Than English?

Currently, the test is offered in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. All translation work has been handled by professionals.

How Many Questions Do I Have to Get Right to Pass?

There’s no set number. Each question on the exam is weighted based on its complexity and the number of people who have gotten it right in the past. As such, there’s no way to tell how many questions you need to answer correctly to pass, so it’s best to try to shoot for 100%.

Recommendations for Studying and Taking the CMRP

The most important recommendation for preparing for the CMRP is to study, study, study and study some more. Additional recommendations include the following.

Join SMRP and Use Their Resources

Joining SMRP gives you access to their resources, including their Body of Knowledge, which can be downloaded from their website. Additional resources available from SMRP include:

  • SMRP’s metrics definitions
  • SMRP Best Practices
  • Global Maintenance and Reliability Indicators
  • The CMRP Guide for Certification and Recertification

With the last item (the CMRP guide), you do not have to be a member to download it. Since it contains sample questions, it can be a valuable study aid.

Joining a local SMRP chapter is also recommended since they help you learn from others. These can be found online, and they include special interest chapters as well as general chapters.

Use Additional Resources

Additional resources can be found online completely free of charge. Two of these include:

These are lower priority than SMRP’s resources but still important to study.

Relate What You Study to Your Organization

When studying the five pillars and other materials, don’t learn them in principle only. Think about how you could use them in your organization to optimize reliability and maintainability. In other words, think, “How could I improve my organization?” By looking at the pillars in this way, you’ll understand them better, which will help you on the test.

Learn Your Metrics

In the words of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” It’s important to be able to answer questions about SMRP metrics. Take time to review the definitions of each metric along with how they’re used. It helps to think about how one would use those metrics to optimize your current maintenance and reliability program.

Also, learn the difference between leading and lagging KPIs. Put simply, leading KPIs to lead to the result, while lagging KPIs are the result.

SMRP metrics provide maintenance and reliability professionals with the ability to do the following:

  • Standardize how maintenance and reliability practices are measured
  • Form a foundation for measuring performance consistently
  • Make valid comparisons
  • Form realistic expectations

Study Best Practices

SMRP Best Practices is a comprehensive publication of world-class metrics and guidelines. It also serves as a glossary of terms for maintenance, reliability, and asset management. Many of the metrics described in this publication will seem similar on the surface, but understanding how they all align will help you, both when you take the CMRP as well as on the job.

By understanding best practices, you’ll be better able to run a safe, cost-efficient, and effective maintenance and reliability program that aligns with strategic operational and tactical best practices.

Focus on Business and Organizational Goals

Ultimately, the material you study for the CMRP should be focused on business goals, whatever those may be for your organization. Becoming familiar with the metrics and guidelines in SMRP materials provides you with standardization and benchmarks to measure success.

What You Need to Know – The Five Pillars

As noted before, the SMRP Body of Knowledge consists of five pillars. Knowing about these five pillars is crucial to getting certified.

Business & ManagementThis subject area describes the skills used to translate business objectives into appropriate maintenance and reliability goals. For example, if you wanted to run at an OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) of 90%, you might set such goals as:

  • Having 100% PM compliance
  • Less than 10% emergency urgent labor hours
  • Fewer than three storeroom stockouts per month/week/etc.

The idea is that these goals should support your organization’s business results.

  1. Manufacturing Process Reliability

Manufacturing Process Reliability relates to maintenance and reliability activities that improve the manufacturing process. As such, it’s very important.

  1. Equipment Reliability

Equipment Reliability focuses on two types of activities that maintenance and reliability professionals handle:

  • Those activities are used to assess the capability of equipment in terms of reliability, availability, maintainability, and criticality.
  • Activities are used to choose and apply the best maintenance practices to make sure equipment continues to perform safely and cost-effectively.

There’s a direct correlation between equipment reliability and safety. The more reliable the equipment, the lower your incident rate, and thus the higher safety is in your organization.

  1. Organization & Leadership

This area describes processes for making sure maintenance and reliability staff are the most qualified and best assigned to achieve organizational goals. In other words, how would you assign people to meet your organization’s objectives? This is often part of scheduling (though planning has a major role in it as well).

  1. Work Management

The Work Management subject area focuses on skills used to complete maintenance and reliability work, such as scheduling, planning, quality assurance of maintenance activities, and storage/inventory management. One metric that might be used in this area is rework, meaning work that needs to be redone because it didn’t meet specifications.

Recommended Reading for the CMRP

In addition to the resources offered by SMRP and other organizations described above, there are a few books that can be especially useful when preparing for CMRP certification.

Maintenance and Reliability Best Practices by Ramesh Gulati

Maintenance Best Practices is commonly used since it contains sample questions that are similar to what you might see on the CMRP. In addition, it’s simple to understand, making it a great resource for those seeking certification.

 Tip: If you could pick only one book, Maintenance and Reliability Best Practices is the resource to choose.

The Rules of Thumb for Maintenance and Reliability Engineers by Ricky Smith and Keith Mobley

The Rules of Thumb for Maintenance and Reliability has a lot of good material in it, including flow charts on proactive maintenance that may appear on the exam.

Engineering Reliability: Fault Trees and Reliability Block Diagrams by Harry G. Kwatny

Engineering Reliability is a big one for those who haven’t used fault trees or reliability block diagrams before. It can be found completely free online.

Additional Books

Finally, a couple of additional books that are worth studying include:

  • Making Common Sense Common Practice by Ron Moore
  • Maintenance Planning and Scheduling by Doc Palmer

Tip: It’s helpful to get PDFs of these materials. With a PDF document, you can quickly search for terms without flipping through a hard copy.

Miscellaneous CMRP Tips and Tricks

Finally, here are some miscellaneous tips on how to get ready for the CMRP as well as pointers for doing well on the exam.

Dedicate Plenty of Time to Study

Start studying for the exam about a week prior. A good routine would be two to four hours of study per day.

Take Study Breaks

Every hour or so, it helps to take a 15-minute break to clear your head, such as walking around outside.

Eliminate Distractions

While studying, don’t have the TV on, and remove other distractions. If you have kids or live with other people, find a solitary space where you can study without anyone bothering you. While it’s good to have a study partner, you do need some time to study alone as well.

Find a Study Group

A study group gives you a chance to talk out concepts that you might find confusing and to get feedback. Often, you might be able to figure it out just by explaining concepts to others out loud.

Tip: To find a study group, you might try LinkedIn and ask if anyone wants to study with you for the CMRP.

Get Plenty of Sleep

On the night before your exam, get a minimum of six hours of sleep. If you’re not used to that much sleep, work progressively toward that over the week before.

Watch Your Diet

On the night before your exam, minimize alcohol intake. You don’t have to eliminate it, but it’s generally best to minimize it. In addition, eat breakfast the morning of your exam, but keep sugar to a minimum as well. Coffee is fine if that’s what you’re used to drinking in the morning.

Jot Down Formulas Before the Test

If you go to a testing center, you’ll be given a whiteboard where you can jot down notes and calculations. It may be worthwhile to take a couple of minutes to write down any formulas you remember and other items you might get tripped up on before you begin. That way if you start doubting yourself in the middle of the test, you’ll have a resource you can quickly reference.

Don’t Linger on Questions

During the exam, if you find yourself stuck on a question—such as if two answers seem like they could be right—don’t be afraid to mark it and come back. The online test even lets you flag questions to come back to before you submit it. As you go through the exam, the other questions may give hints to the right answer.

In the end, it’s best to answer all the questions with a few having a 50% chance of being wrong than to have a lot of unanswered questions.


When it comes to taking and passing the CMRP, the most important thing to do studies. Rely on the resources described above, commit the material to memory as much as you can, and relate it to your organization’s needs. If you do that, you should do well.

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