CAPM vs. PMP: Project Management Certifications Explained

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: January 13, 2022  •  5 min read  •  Business
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A closer look at CAPM vs PMP is necessary when you’re considering a project management certification. These are two very popular options and both offer plenty of benefits. If you’re a project manager, you might be trying to figure out which certification is right for you.

With the fast-growing field expected to add even more jobs over the next ten years, getting certified is important. It shows your qualifications as a project manager. Let’s look at the CAPM and the PMP to help you choose the right option for your needs.

What is the CAPM?

CAPM or Certified Associate in Project Management comes from the Project Management Institute (PMI). This certification shows that you understand project management well enough to start a new career in this field. It also can help you if you’ve been working in the field, already.

While the CAPM is looked at as an entry-level certification, it does come with requirements including:

Often, the CAPM is used to begin a career in the project management industry. This is a growing field and many employers are seeking people with a CAPM certification. It has become a minimum requirement to gain a job in project management for many employers.

What is the PMP?

Another certification from the PMI is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This certification shows you have the experience, education, and mastery of project management. It certifies you to handle more extensive projects.

The PMP certification is higher than the CAPM but does have some differences, too. It will require you to meet the following requirements:

The PMP certification is a more advanced certification that requires you to pass a 200-question exam, as well. It has higher requirements and employers understand this. It will show that you have advanced skills and knowledge in the field and can lead to higher-paying positions.

CAPM vs. PMP: The Main Differences

1. Difficulty of the Exam

The PMP is designed for those already with a CAPM or more experience in project management. The exam to get the PMP certification is going to be more difficult than the exam for the CAPM. That’s not to say the CAPM exam is easy.

When you take the CAPM exam, it will cover a smaller portion of the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide. It will mainly focus on professional terminology. The PMP exam, however, covers five process groups, which are:

It will also include questions designed to test your ability to handle real-world project management scenarios. These types of questions are not found on the CAPM exam.

The CAPM exam will cover 150 multiple-choice questions and you will have three hours to complete it. The PMP exam covers 180 total questions with multiple-choice, multiple responses, hotspots, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions. You will have three hours and fifty minutes to complete the PMP exam.

2. The Cost

The CAPM certification won’t cost as much as the PMP certification. If you’re not a member of the PMI, the CAPM will cost $300, but if you’re a member it’s $225. The PMP is $555 for non-members and $405 for members.

3. Requirements

As you can see from the description above, the PMP has a much higher requirement than the CAPM. The CAPM certification is considered to be an entry-level option for project managers. The PMP certification isn’t an entry-level option. It’s considered more advanced and requires more experience before you can become certified.

4. Requirements for Renewal

You will be able to enjoy the benefits of the CAPM certification for five years before you have to recertify. With the PMP certification, you have to renew after three years.

The CAPM requires you to take the exam again to recertify or take the PMP exam to earn a higher certification. These are your only options for recertification or renewal of the CAPM certification.

The PMP will require you to earn 60 Personal Development Units (PDUs) during the three years before renewal. Each PDU requires one hour of education or helping others learn project management. You will need units from both categories, which are Educational and Giving Back to the Profession.

Some of the ways you can earn your PDUs include:

There isn’t another exam you have to take to renew the PMP certification.

CAPM vs. PMP: Which is Right for You?

It might not be easy to choose the right certification for you between the CAPM and PMP. However, you can certainly start with the CAPM and work your way towards the PMP while working in project management. If you already meet the PMP certification requirements, it’s the right choice.

The main factor to look at is where you’re at in your career path. If you’re early in your career, the CAPM is likely the right choice. However, as you advance in your career, the PMP certification makes quite a bit of sense.

When you compare CAPM and PMP certifications you will find plenty of differences. Both are great options for project managers and can help you advance your career in project management.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!