Business professional looking at PMP and CAPM courses that complete PDU

Which is the Better Certification: CAPM or PMP and What is the Difference?

One of the typical questions both new and experienced project managers have is whether they should take PMP or CAPM exams. These certifications are quite costly (up to $450 for some of them) and have takers answer many tough questions regarding project management.

Professional exams are needed for everyone who wants to further their career and boost credentials. But how important PMP and CAPM are, really?

Having these certifications shows your high skills and knowledge,  it means that you can manage your projects, you are goal-oriented and motivated person.

So let’s take a closer look at them in this article to help you make an informed decision.

What are CAMP and PMP?

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The first certification in our comparison is an entry level one. It was specifically designed for those who wish to start their career in project management and has a great value for aspiring project managers.

The CAMP process requires the candidates to provide information about their professional experience and pass an online examination.

Minimum Qualifications for CAPM:

The certification requires all candidates to provide High School Diploma (or Secondary Diploma) and at least 1,500 hours of experience on a project team.

If a candidate cannot provide the document or has no prior experience working in project management, he or she needs to attend formal training. If the trainee logs in at least 23 hours, the certification allows qualifying for the exam.

Other requirements include:

  • Time allowed: 3 hours

  • Question type: multiple choice

  • Number of scored questions: 135

  • Number of unscored questions: 15

The exam is split into a number of project management areas, including:

Topic Weight
Project Scope Management 11%
Project Management Processes 15%
Project Quality Management 6%
Project Time Management 12%
Project Risk Management 9%
Project Cost Management 7%
Project Communications Management 6%
Project Human Resources Management 8%
Project Stakeholder Management 7%
Project Procurement Management 7%

CAPM certification is valid for five years. After this time, upgrade is available.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMP is an advanced certification that only be acquired by professional who have at least 3 years of experience in project management and a completed bachelor’s degree. Thus, it is suitable for those professionals who want to advance their credentials.

PMP also allows to enter candidates with educational background related to project management (at least 35 hours), a completed secondary education, and 5 years of experience in the field.

Minimum Qualifications for PMP:

For this certification, candidates have to have more experience (at least 4500 hours of managing or leading projects), and education (at least a Bachelor’s degree). In addition to these requirements, all candidates must attend formal project management training for at least 35 hours (online or classroom).

For those candidates who don’t have a Bachelor’s degree (for example, a High School Diploma), taking the exam is allowed but the experience requirement is increased to 7,500 hours.

Other requirements:

  • Time allowed: 4 hours

  • Question type: multiple choice

  • Number of scored questions: 175

  • Number of unscored questions: 25

The PMP exam does not features as many areas as CAPM:

Topic Weight
Initiation 13%
Planning 24%
Executing 30%
Monitoring and Controlling 25%
Closing 8%

The candidates who pass PMP receive certification valid for three years. During this time, they are required to earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) to be able to qualify for a renewal.

The Difference Between PMP and CAPM

So, this one is obvious now. CAPM certification is designed for beginners in the project management field who wish to start their career there. Typically, they have little or no experience in leading or managing projects.

On the other hand, PMP is suitable for those who have been working in project management for years and have a lot of practical experience. Thus, the requirements for PMP candidates suggest that only active project managers with rich experience qualify.

Advantages of CAPM and PMP

Here are some important advantages of the exams.

  • If you’re just beginning your way in project management business, you should definitely consider taking CAPM. It can really highlight your resume and help to stand out among others. The certification demonstrates your commitment to the field and eagerness to learn and become more professionals. The same could be said about PMP as well: it shows that you have an impressive experience and a desire for continuous improvement.

  • You can use CAPM as a way to obtain a higher position in the next project because certification is always valued by employers. “I was able to accelerate my career thanks to CAPM,” says Gregg Leonard, a project manager at Awriter. “It really opened my eyes to new possibilities in managing of people, communications, and risks.”

  • More value, however, is given to PMP. But don’t be discouraged: on entry levels, CAPM can provide you with a significant advantage over others!

Study Materials

For both exams, only one book is used – The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), Fifth Edition. The Project Management Institute has prepared this guide for all PMP and CAPM candidates, so it is quite comprehensive. People involved in project management highly recommend it for everyone who wishes to be involved in the field. Additionally, OpenSesame offers a variety of courses that count toward Professional Development Units for both PMP and CAPM.

In addition to the literature, exam training is available for candidates. It is also recommended to attend the training to increase the chances for success.

The Bottom Line

To pass CAPM and PMP successfully, you need to do a lot of learning and training. In the end, it’s all worth it because a certification can really accelerate your career!

Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist, business consultant who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger, and currently writes for . She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on FaceBook and Twitter.