CAPM vs PMP: Which Certification Should You Use

Project management is a fast-growing profession, and demand is rising for knowledgeable people with certifications to take on those roles. It is projected that employers will need 2.2 million project-oriented jobs filled each year through to 2027. The work is challenging and requires professionals who can plan, budget, execute, oversee, and complete projects efficiently. They are team leaders in every industry and sector, who are resourceful, creative, intelligent, and organized. 

This is the perfect time for you to invest in yourself and become certified. 

Why certify at all

If you can work in the field without certification, why certify at all? If you have work experience as a project manager, certification is a way of validating your expertise and formalizing your knowledge. Of course, you will also learn new tools and techniques technical expertise for the benefit of any industry within which you choose to work. And if you have no experience, having a formalized certification will make you more attractive to recruiters. 

Certifications are globally recognized. Being certified makes it easier for you to transfer from one industry to another or even move from one country to another. With certifications that are widely acknowledged, you can demonstrate you are knowledgeable about the work and can do the job regardless of location or field. 

Certification may provide the opportunity for continued promotion within your company. You will now have proven skills and show the ability to take on more responsibility. Even if you are not promoted, you may ensure a dramatically higher salary for yourself – commensurate with your certification. 

Certification will certainly build your confidence. In addition to demonstrating to others your skills and abilities, you are also showing this to yourself. Greater confidence will lead to a higher level of work proficiency, promotions, higher salaries and more job responsibilities. 

Certification is an excellent idea whether or not you are an experienced project manager. But as you research project management certifications, you’ll discover that there is more than one framework, not than one methodology, and more than one certification for each possible. 

The two main frameworks are Agile and Waterfall, or what we call change driven vs predictable. Scrum is the most popular Agile methodology while the most recognized Waterfall methodology belongs to Project Management Institute’s (PMI) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK Guide. PMI’s two top industry-recognized certification programs are the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP). So which should you choose? 

What is CAPM?

The CAPM is for those beginning their careers or those already experienced in project management. 

Since this certification requires no experience in the field, here are few prerequisites:

  • 1,500 hours of project experience
  • A high school diploma, an Associate’s Degree, or its global equivalent. 

Or

  • 23 hours of formal project management education completed before you take the exam.

Since this certification doesn’t require a four-year degree or experience as a project manager, it is perfect for you to add to your resume as a recent college graduate or one who is looking for a change mid-career

This program is also suitable for those who can secure 23 hours of a project management education. The education hours may be completed in-person, virtually, or self-paced online. This makes completing the requirement very doable for people who may be working full-time jobs or in school full time. 

Duration

The CAPM is valid for 3 years and requires 15 Professional Development Units (PDU) for renewal.

The program and exam

The modules cover the knowledge, principles, and terminology from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). 

They will include the basics of project management, making it an excellent program for those entirely new to project management or for those who don’t have extensive experience. 

The exam consists of 150 questions, multiple choice only (A,B,C, or D), and you have 3 hours to complete it. There are no situational questions on this exam. 

Cost

$225 for Members

$300 for Non-Members

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What is PMP?

The PMP is the most renowned project management certification. It is developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and represents the gold standard for the project management industry. Over 1 million professionals from 200+ countries have achieved and maintained their PMP certification. It demonstrates a thorough understanding of the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and completion of projects.  

To keep up with a changing industry, the PMP exam changed on the 2nd of January, 2021. Instead of measuring competency in the five process groups, scoring will focus on:

  • People – emphasizing the skills and activities of effective team leadership.
  • Process – looking at the technical side of project management.
  • Business Environment – connecting projects and organization strategy. 

There is a new emphasis on the value delivery spectrum, which will include predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches. 

The requirements for taking the PMP are still:

  • 60 months (5 years) of leading and controlling projects in the last eight years
  • 35 hours of formal project management education
  • A high school diploma, associate’s degree, or its global equivalent

Or

  • A four-year college degree
  • 35 hours of formal project management education
  • 36 months (3 years) of leading and controlling projects in the last eight years

This certification is for the professional who has already been working in the field, been on project teams or led them, and is now looking to formalize their knowledge and prepare for career advancement

Duration

The PMP certification is valid for three years, and those holding it must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) to maintain and renew their credential. The cycle begins on the day that you pass the PMP certification exam and ends on the same day three years later. 

It is recommended that holders of this certification begin early to implement a plan to attain their PDUs. Whether you choose to take online courses or get involved with activities and the PMI community, you should report PDUs right after completion and keep copies for your documentation. Remember that you may transfer up to 20 PDUs from one cycle to the next. 

The program and exam

The primary study source for the PMP is the PMBOK Guide, which consists of the most significant guidelines and best practices necessary for project management. Students may, of course, study additional materials. In fact, most elect to take courses taught by certified instructors, some will still take courses even after self-studying. 

The new exam is made up of 180 questions (down from the previous exam’s 200 questions). You will have 230 minutes to complete the exam, with a couple of breaks in between. There are several totes of questions such as multiple-choice, matching, multiple responses, hotspot, and a few fill-in-the-blank. 

The cost

$405 for Members

$555 for Non-Members

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Final thoughts

Gaining one of these certifications will separate you from the rest in your field. You will be acknowledged as a skilled and knowledgeable asset to your company. You will increase your confidence, as well as your team and managers’ trust in you. And, of course, your earning potential will go through the roof. Just ask anyone who holds one of them.