Project managers are in high demand. Many organizations are looking to recruit certified professionals who can efficiently helm better projects. Almost anyone can greatly benefit from adding a few project management certifications to their credentials in order to both sharpen their soft skills and also increase their earning power.
With a slew of project management certifications out there, you may not know which certification is right for you. In order to make this decision, you need to know what each certification consists of, what benefits it provides, what the requirements for obtaining it are, and what the exam looks like.
The CompTIA Project+ and PMP® certificates are two of the top project management certifications today. In this article, we’ll help you make the right decision for your future by comparing them.
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Project+ vs. PMP®: Which One to Choose?
CompTIA Project+ Certification
Project+ is an entry-level project management certification administered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). It covers both project management and IT elements.
The Project+ certification gives you the necessary business, technical, and interpersonal project management skills and knowledge needed to manage all aspects of a project such as resource planning, budgeting, communication, and documentation.
The Project Management Professional Certification, more commonly referred to as PMP®, is a more advanced certification and one of the most widely-recognized project management certificates out there. It’s offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
The PMI’s project management standard is contained within their Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). While the first edition of the PMBOK® was released in 1996, it’s continuously being updated in order to keep up with the demands of the changing professional world.
Who is the Certification For?
According to CompTIA, the certification is aimed at business professionals who manage or coordinate small or medium-size projects. It’s also suitable for project team members, IT professionals, and business analysts looking for management and leadership roles.
CompTIA’s Project+ is an entry-level certificate. Therefore, you can tell if this is the certification for you based on the time you’ve spent in the field.
While there are no prerequisites for sitting the Project+ exam, it’s highly recommended to have at least 12 months of experience managing or participating in small to medium-size projects in the field or equivalent education and training. This vastly increases your chances of obtaining the certificate on the first try.
Unlike Project+, the PMP® mainly targets project managers and professionals who already have extensive experience in project management but require the certification to prove their proficiency and skills. If you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder by helming larger and more complex projects, the PMP® would be a great place to start.
This is reflected in the requirements that candidates must meet before taking the PMP® exam. To be eligible for a PMP® certification, candidates must meet one of two sets of criteria.
Regarding education, they must have a relevant four-year degree. Additionally, they must have 3.5 years of project management experience and 35 hours of project management training or CAPM® Certification.
Alternatively, if they only have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, they must have 5 years of proven experience leading projects in addition to the 35 hours of project management education or CAPM® Certification.
Thankfully, the mere participation in a professional project environment can be taken into consideration as part of the 5-year-experience requirement,
What Kind of job can you get With Each Credential?
Adding this certificate to your resume would be a good idea if you need to demonstrate to potential employers that you possess the needed skills to lead small and medium-size projects in IT or other industries.
Think of the CompTIA Project+ certification as a stepping stone for your senior project management career. It would also be a good idea to later pair it with more intermediate or advanced-level certifications such as the PMP® if you really want to give yourself a more competitive edge. This is made easy by the fact that it is largely based on the same PMBOK® that PMI has designed.
Getting a PMP® certification certainly pays off since it qualifies you for different leadership and senior management roles within the organization.
The PMP® isn’t focused on a single industry, thereby offering a higher level of versatility. While it prepares you to lead IT projects, you can also branch out to different industries and types of projects.
According to a PMI report, there will be around 15.7 million new Project Management job opportunities by 2020 in project-intensive industries, such as IT, manufacturing, finance and insurance, business services, construction, and IT.
Moreover, obtaining PMP® certification can increase your salary. According to PMI’s Earning Power Salary Survey, PMP®-certified project managers earn a 25% higher salary than those without PMP® certification.
In order to obtain your Project+ certification, you must pass a computer-based exam. The Project+ PK0-004 exam is composed of a maximum of 95 multiple choice (with both single and multiple responses), and drag and drop questions.
Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam. In order to pass, they must score 710 or more on a scale of 100-900. The cost of sitting the exam in the US is $329.
Lasting a total of 4 hours with no scheduled break, the duration of the PMP® exam is much longer than Project+’s 90-minute exam.
The PMP® exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. That said, only 175 are scorable. The remaining 25 questions are pretest, meaning that they won’t be counted towards your final grade. They’re only there to test the validity of the question for future exams.
However, you won’t know which ones are pretest as they’re randomly positioned within the exam, so you should answer all 200 questions as if you will be graded on them.
Taking the exam costs $405 for members and $555 for non-members. Moreover, it’s a closed book exam, meaning that no reference materials are allowed. The PMP® passing score of 80.6%, which means that you need to answer at least 141 out of 175 questions correctly.
What Does the Certification Cover?
The CompTIA Project+ certification covers an array of IT and project management skills. It focuses on managing the project’s life cycle as well as all the skills needed to plan, initiate, execute, and close a project.
It also certifies that the candidate can manage resources and stakeholders, maintain project documentation, and ensure appropriate communication throughout the project.
The Project+ exam covers four domains:
|Percentage On The Exam
|Communication and Change Management
|Project Tools and Documentation
The PMP® certificate focuses on the fundamental principles and best practices that you can apply to any project in order to improve workflow and streamline business processes.
The questions of the PMP® exam test the five domains of the project’s lifecycle:
|Percentage On The Exam
|Monitoring and Controlling
In addition, it also covers the cross-domain knowledge and skills which can be used in various domains and tasks. This includes professional conduct and code of ethics among others.
Renewing Your Certification
Unlike other CompTIA certifications that require renewal every 3 years, the Project+ is good for life. This means that once you’ve obtained it, you can use it on your resume for the rest of your life without ever having to renew it.
By contrast, after obtaining your PMP® certification, the PMI gives you a 3-year certification cycle within which you must renew your PMP® credential in order to maintain your PMP® credentials and active certification status.
This can be done via PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program. During each 3-year certification cycle, you must earn 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units). Those are one-hour units that fall into 2 broad categories: Education and Giving Back To the Profession.
More specifically, you must obtain a minimum of 35 Education PDUs and a maximum of 25 Giving Back PDUs by the end of each 3-year cycle. Failure to do so will result in a one-year suspension of your certification and then a total revocation of your PMP® credentials by the PMI.
While the PMP® model certainly involves more work than a good-for-life certificate, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. It aims to always keep your professional and interpersonal skills sharp and relevant to the current demands of your industry.
While both certifications are widely-recognized and will add some weight to your credentials, the question of Project+ vs PMP® will largely depend on what type of job you currently hold and how many years of experience you have.
If you’re not yet an established project manager or if project management is not your primary career focus, then you should opt for the CompTIA Project+ certification as it’s entry-level and easier to obtain.
However, if you have enough project management experience under your sleeve and want to foray into senior management roles, then PMP® is your best option.