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CAPM vs PMP, which one should you choose?

Deciding between the CAPM vs PMP certification can be tricky. Like many working professionals, you are pursuing career progression through certifications.

It is predicted that over 15 million project management jobs will be created by 2020.  

Both CAPM and PMP are project management certifications, but, have different requirements.

When deciding between CAPM vs PMP, remember that hiring managers across all industries seek qualified project managers that can make a positive impact in their organizations.

Let’s look at the two certifications.

The Project Management Professional, PMP

In 1984, the PMI developed the PMP certification.  In the nearly 40 years since it’s creation, the PMP has become a highly sought certification.

It is the most recognized project management certification globally and is recognized across multiple industries.  

In 2007 the PMP certification program earned ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation, which is great news.  This accreditation means that the PMP is recognized in over 85 countries that follow the ISO standard.    

If you have experience as a project manager with responsibility for all aspects of project delivery, leading and directing cross-functional teams, then you should consider obtaining your PMP certification

The Certified Associate in Project Management, CAPM

Then, in 2003, the PMI developed the CAPM qualification.  Although this is a project management certification, think of it like an entry-level certification for project managers. 

The CAPM certification allows aspiring project managers, who don’t yet meet the PMP qualifications, demonstrate their familiarity with the Project Management body of knowledge, processes, and terminology.

Think of CAPM like a stepping-stone into project management for the less experienced professional. 

CAPM is a highly valued and recognized certification.  No matter what stage your career is at, having a CAPM certification adds value. 

The certification is an asset that will set you apart from others in the job market and adds to your credibility and effectiveness of working on, or with, project teams.

Deciding between CAPM vs PMP is easy with this handy guide
Deciding between CAPM vs PMP

The Exam:  CAPM vs PMP 

When deciding between choosing CAPM vs PMP, many candidates find it helpful to know the difference between the CAPM Exam and the PMP Exam.  

PMP Exam

A large portion of the PMP Exam is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide content. 

The exam tests both your experience in and knowledge of project management.

The PMP Exam is considered difficult, and many candidates find taking an instructor-led course helps them to navigate the intricacies of the exam. 

The PMP Certification Exam is experience based. 

To successfully pass the exam, candidates must apply knowledge from their working experience as project managers to answer the exam questions correctly.   

In addition to the knowledge contained in the PMBOK Guide, the PMP exam has several situational-based questions.  

The PMP Exam can be tricky, because the questions are not asking for the perfect answer, but for the best answer of all the options provided. 

Candidates should be prepared to answer questions that will ask them what the best course of actions is in each situation. 

CAPM Exam

Although the questions in the CAPM exam are also based on the PMBOK Guide, the CAPM questions are generally less difficult than the PMP Exam. 

Candidates need only study the PMBOK Guide, as the questions are based on the PMBOK only.  

The CAPM exam is shorter than the PMP exam, is only 3 hours long, and valid for 5 years. 

To re-certify, candidates must successfully pass the exam every 5 years.  


PMPCAPM
Questions200* multiple-choice questions150 multiple-choice questions

*of these 200 questions, 25 are used for research purposes and do not count towards the final score
TimeExam must be completed in the 4-hour time limit Exam must be completed in the 3-hour time limit
Cost$405 USD for members
$555 USD for non-members
$225 USD for members
$300 USD for non-members
Closed/Open BookClosed book.  No reference materials allowedClosed book.  No reference materials allowed
ContentPMBOK
Domains:  Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing
PMBOK
Chapters 3-13 of the PMBOK guide

CAPM vs PMP Requirements

CAPM

The CAPM certification is designed for candidates early in their career.

It is ideal for recent graduates with little to no project management experience.

Or, it is also great for current students who want to demonstrate a commitment to a project management career.  

A candidate must have a secondary degree and 1,500 hours of project experience, or, 23 hours of project management education completed by the time of the exam.

  • Minimum secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree or the global equivalent)
  • 1500 hours project experience OR 23 hours project management education

Candidates must have either 23 hours of project management education or 1500 hours project experience before taking the exam. 

Complete the project management education with an online course that fits into your schedule.  

PMP 

The PMP requirements are more rigorous, and depend on whether you have a secondary degree, or a post-secondary degree.

Secondary degree:

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree or the global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Post-secondary degree:

  • Four-year post-secondary degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Candidates who hold a four-year degree require fewer hours leading and directing projects.  

PMP candidates with a secondary degree must have 7,500 hours of experience in leading and directing projects to qualify.

Those with a four-year degree are required to have 4,500 hours of experience.

The PMP certification also requires 35 hours of project management education.

CAPM vs PMP Benefits

PMP

The PMP credential can be incredibly beneficial to your career.  Project managers are in high demand across a broad range of industries.

Those with certification have higher earning potential than those without. 

PMP certified project managers have better job opportunities, access to a large professional network, and are better project managers. 

CAPM

If your goal is to become a Project Manager, the CAPM puts you on the right path to accomplish this goal. 

CAPM certification demonstrates your credibility to potential employers.

It increases your potential for the on-the-job experience needed to qualify for the PMP exam.

Not to mention, CAPM certification increases your knowledge and understanding, making you a better project manager.

By taking and passing the CAPM Certification exam, holders will be able to demonstrate their dedication in the field of project management.  

Do you want to get your PMP certification? Sign up for a free class to learn how!

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