Difference between PMP and CAPM certifications: Project Management Institute (PMI) offers two levels of certification - Project Management Professional (PMP®) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) - for project managers, depending upon their experience, education and training. So which certification is right for me, you may ask. In this article, I’ll review the differences between PMP and CAPM certifications in order to help aspiring candidates make the right decision.
PMP is a professional-level certification, while CAPM is an associate-level certification. PMP requires a few years of professional project management experience, while CAPM does not require any project management experience. PMP is meant for experienced project managers, while CAPM can help you get a foot-in-the-door into the world of professional project management. Refer to the chart below for a head-to-head comparison of the two project management certifications. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll be able to decide which certification is right for you.
PMP vs CAPM: Comparison Chart
Let’s start with a head-to-head comparison of PMP and CAPM. After that, we’ll address other questions such as - which certification is better and which is more popular.
|Overview||PMP certification is meant for experienced Project Managers who want to gain credibility and recognition for their knowledge and skills in Project Management, and want to advance their project management career.||CAPM certification is designed for project team members, entry-level project managers and qualified undergraduate or graduate students. CAPM is also suitable for anyone switching into Project Management Profession but is not qualified for PMP Certification. CAPM demonstrates a good knowledge of Project Management terminology, concepts and methodology.|
|Who should apply?||Those who lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget, and scope.||Candidates for the CAPM credential contribute to projects as subject matter experts and team members. They may also serve as project sponsors, facilitators, liaisons or coordinators.|
|Eligibility Criteria|| To qualify for the PMP Exam, you need:|
a. High School Diploma or a global equivalent + 5 years of PM experience + 35 hrs of formal PM education*
b. Bachelor's degree or a global equivalent + 3 years of PM experience + 35 hrs of formal PM education*
c. Bachelor's or post-graduate degree from a GAC accredited program (bachelor's degree or master's or global equivalent) + 2 years of PM experience
*CAPM certification also counts toward 35 hrs of PM education
| To qualify for the CAPM Exam, you need:|
Secondary Education + 23 hrs of formal Project Management education
|Exam Fee (USD)|| a. $555 for non-PMI members|
b. $405 for PMI members
| a. $300 for non-PMI members|
b. $225 for PMI members
|Allotted Examination Time||230 minutes||180 minutes|
|No. of Exam Questions|| 175 Scored + 5 Pretest|
= 180 Total
| 135 Scored + 15 Pretest|
= 150 Total
|Difficulty Level||Generally considered to be difficult (a subjective matter)||Considerably less difficult than the PMP Exam|
|Type of Questions||Multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot and fill-in-the-blank; Mostly situational questions.||Multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching; Mostly direct questions based on PMBOK® Guide content.|
|Exam Administration||Computer-Based Test (CBT) at the exam center or Online Proctored Test (OPT)||Computer-Based Test (CBT) at the exam center or Online Proctored Test (OPT)|
|Subject to Audit?||Yes||Yes|
|Validity||3 years||3 years|
|Renewal||Earn 60 PDUs during the 3 year certification cycle. For earning PDUs, refer to How to get my 60 PDUs for PMP Certification Renewal?||Earn 15 PDUs during the 3 year certification cycle. For earning PDUs, refer to How to get my 60 PDUs for PMP Certification Renewal?|
|Number of credential holders (as of Jun 30, 2021)||1,141,147||54,163|
|Recognition / Market Value||PMP was introduced in 1984 and has been the premier certification in the field of Project Management for many years. It's well recognized across the world and many companies use it as a pre-requisite for Project Manager positions. For more information, refer to Value of PMP Certification.||CAPM was introduced in 2003 and is a relatively new certification. It is steadily gaining popularity. It might not get you a Project Manager job, a promotion or a steep pay-hike immediately, but it certainly demonstrates your seriousness about pursuing Project Management as a career. It provides you a step in the door into Project Management.|
|More Information||Refer to About PMP Certification and PMP Handbook (PDF).||Refer to About CAPM Certification and CAPM Handbook (PDF).|
Which certification is more popular - PMP or CAPM?
As you can see from the number of PMPs and CAPMs (1.14M vs 54K), PMP is far more popular than CAPM. I have been running a survey of visitors of this blog, and based on the responses, PMP is at least 6 times more popular than CAPM.
Do note that the number of certification holders reflects the “active” certification holders. Majority of CAPM certified individuals use it as a stepping stone to get their PMP certification. So, while CAPM numbers continue to remain small, PMP numbers continue to swell.
Which certification is more valuable - PMP or CAPM?
PMP has undoubtedly more value than CAPM in the market as PMP affirms your knowledge and experience in the field of project management, whereas CAPM only proves your knowledge and not experience. This isn’t to say that CAPM has no value. CAPM is great for those who have no or little experience in project management, and are looking for a foot in the door to the world of project management.
Which certification is right for me - PMP or CAPM?
The answer to this question depends upon your project management experience.
If you have 3 years or more of project management experience, you should definitely go for PMP. This one is a no-brainer.
If you have 1-2 years of project management experience, you should wait it out until you have attained 3 years of project management experience, and go straight for PMP instead of spending your money and energy on CAPM.
But if you have less than 1 year of project management experience, or no project management experience at all, or as I said above, you are looking for a foot in the door to project management, then CAPM is the right certification for you. However, don’t stop at CAPM and graduate to PMP once you’ve attained the required 3 years of project management experience.
If you need additional information or have more information to share on this subject, feel free to post your comments. I’m happy to help and provide guidance to anyone who requests for it.