CAPM vs. PMP Certification – Which One Should You Aim for?

Oct 15, 2019 | PMP Certification

For a project manager, a certification is a ticket to better career opportunities. Nowadays, there are different standards for evaluating a professional’s experience in project management. However, CAPM and PMP are two of the most prominent certifications for project managers.

Both of these certifications can initiate unprecedented growth in your career. Nevertheless, it can be difficult for project managers to decide which one they should go for.

In this article, we will compare CAPM and PMP to help you figure out which certification suits your career needs and goals the most.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The Project Management Institute (PMI) created the CAPM qualification in 2003. The international organization presented CAPM as an entry-level certification for project managers. Easy to acquire, you can apply for it at any level of your professional career.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP, on the other hand, was launched by the PMI in 1984. Since then, the certification has become the most highly recognized one for project managers all over the world.

The PMP certification is more suited for project managers who have substantial experience in their domain. Therefore, it serves as a means to validate the experience of these professionals. However, each professional needs to pass the strenuous criteria to be eligible for the exam.

CAPM vs. PMP: Eligibility Requirements

One of the major differences between PMP and CAPM is their eligibility criteria. The CAPM requires fewer hours of experience and educational qualifications, which makes it easier to obtain than the PMP.

Photographer: NeONBRAND | Source: Unsplash

Therefore, one can state that the CAPM certification is better suited for professionals with limited experience and educational qualifications. With that said, let us look at the eligibility requirements for both these certifications.

CAPM Requirements

To appear for the CAPM exam, you must hold at least a high school diploma, an associate’s degree or a global equivalent of the same degrees.

As far as experience as goes, the certification demands minimal experience in project management. Therefore, you can qualify for the certification if you have an experience of 1500 hours in project management.

However, the certification relegates its eligibility criteria even more. It gives professionals the option to appear for the test without any practical experience. Therefore, they can become eligible for the exam after 23 hours of formal education in project management.

To sum it up, the requirements are:

· A high school diploma/an associate’s degree or a global equivalent

· 1500 hours of experience in project management OR 23 hours of formal project management education

PMP Requirements

Contrary to the CAPM certification, the eligibility requirements for PMP are a lot more challenging to meet and are more complex. Besides the additional experience, you will also have to gain a formal education in project management. Therefore, you no longer have the option to choose from either work experience or formal education. You can qualify for the PMP exam in two ways:

The first set of requirements for the PMP exam are:

· A high school degree/diploma, a secondary degree or global equivalent

· At least five years or 60 months of work experience in project management, with 7500 hours spent directly leading a project

· At least 35 hours of formal project management training or education

The second set of requirements for appearing for the PMP exam are:

· A bachelor’s degree or any other global equivalent

· At least three years or 36 months of work experience in project management, with 4500 hours spent directly leading a project

· At least 35 hours of formal project management training or education

CAPM vs. PMP: Cost

Another major difference between the CAPM and PMP credentials is the cost of the examination. The PMP costs twice as much as the CAPM examination.

PMP Cost

The fee for the PMP exam is as follows:

· If you are a member of the Project Management Institute, then your total examination fee will be $405.

· Professionals who are not members of the PMI need to submit $555 as their examination fee.

However, the membership fee for the organization accommodates this difference between members and non-members. With a membership, you will get study material for the exam.

If you don’t pass the exam the first time and have to retake it, you will have to submit an additional fee. Here too, you will see a difference in fee for members and non-members in the recertification fee:

· The re-examination fee for PMI members is $275

· The re-examination fee for non-PMI members is $375


In contrast, CAPM has a much lower fee than the PMP exam:

· Professionals, who are members of the PMI, have to pay $225 for the CAPM exam

· Professionals, who are not members of the PMI, are required to pay $300 to appear for the CAPM exam

In the event that you don’t pass the first time, the re-examination fee for CAPM won’t be as much as PMP:

· The CAPM re-examination fee for PMI members is $150

· The CAPM re-examination fee for non-PMI members is $200

CAPM vs. PMP: Potential Salary

Although in terms of cost, CAPM seems more appealing, since it also has fewer eligibility requirements. However, in terms of returns, the PMP certification is far more rewarding.

The average salary for a professional who has earned the PMP is $105,000 per year. On the other hand, professionals who have earned the CAPM certification make an annual salary of $66,000.

Although CAPM gives promising returns to a person who is just starting out their career, it pales in comparison with the PMP certification.

Besides that, professionals who belong to a specialized industry, such as IT, have the opportunity to earn even more if they have either of the qualifications.

CAPM vs. PMP: Conclusion

Both CAPM and PMP exams have nearly the same curriculum for their examinations. However, PMP is more difficult to earn and has a higher level of prestige. Therefore, if you have the required experience and qualifications, you should go for it.

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