Project management has become a popular career choice in the tech industry. However, it’s not limited to that sector. There are project management jobs in every industry. High demand for project managers means the job is also well-paid, with an average salary of around $75,000, according to Glassdoor.
Although many project managers find work without receiving a certification, getting one could drastically improve the job openings that will be available to you during your career. There are many project management certifications out there, but two of the most relevant ones are the CAPM and PMP certificates.
So, how should you go about becoming a project manager? Which certifications are the right match for your aspirations? In this guide, we’ll show you the key differences between CAPM vs PMP.
What Is CAPM?
A CAPM is a project management certification for entry-level professionals. The Certified Associate in Project Management is a credential offered by the accredited Project Management Institute (PMI).
However, this certification does have some prerequisites. Applicants must have either 1,500 hours of experience in project management or 23 hours of project management education. Applicants should also have at least the equivalent of a high school diploma.
The CAPM exam questions validate students’ knowledge of project management fundamentals, from planning and executing a project, to time management and human resources duties. The test is a great way for project managers to demonstrate their skills.
CAPM Salaries and Job Outlook
According to sources, obtaining the CAPM certificate can result in some of the highest paying project management jobs. The average annual salary of someone who holds a CAPM certification is $101,103. That’s why many project managers make the extra effort to pass this exam and secure the CAPM credential.
Project managers with a CAPM certificate may have different job titles depending on how long they have been working professionally in the field. For example, entry-level PMs may work as a business analyst or a project coordinator. More experienced employees will have the job title of senior project manager.
What Is PMP?
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is an accredited certification also offered by the PMI. This credential validates a professional’s skills and project management experience.
This is a more specialized certification than a CAPM. Its prerequisites include more experience and formal education. Usually, aspiring project managers will get a CAPM certification before obtaining a PMP certification.
PMP Salaries and Job Outlook
PMP-certified project managers can expect to receive about a 20 percent salary increase. Project managers who have a PMP certification may find work as engineering project management professionals, aerospace project managers, or consulting project managers. According to the Accounting Institute for Success, their salary is usually about $110,000.
CAPM vs PMP: The Most Important Differences and Similarities
If you’re thinking about getting a project management certification, you will have to take several factors into account.
You want to be recognized as a professional project manager, but do you have the experience it takes? Which is a better fit for your budget? Let’s look closely at some of the differences between CAPM vs PMP.
The main factor that sets a CAPM certification apart from a PMP credential is the amount of experience required to take the exam. While CAPM only requires that you have 1,500 hours of work experience, the PMP test requires that you have 4,500 hours of project management experience.
It’s important to mention that you don’t need to have the actual title of project manager for your hours to count. As long as your job involves leading and developing projects, then the experience will count.
If you’d like to apply for a CAPM certification, you need a high school degree, while you must have a bachelor’s degree to apply for the PMP. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you must have 7,500 hours of work experience.
Number of Questions
The CAPM exam has around 150 questions, while the PMP has 200 questions. Both exams are challenging, and the questions are all different. Don’t underestimate the CAPM test just because it’s considered an entry-level certification.
CAPM requires you to have 23 hours of project management education, while PMP demands 35 hours.
Level of Difficulty
The two exams are equally as difficult. It’s important to understand that although the CAPM is a lower level accreditation, it does contain serious questions. Therefore, you should make lots of time to study before taking either test.
Expected Salary Increase
A great bonus of getting either of these certifications is that they will both result in a salary increase of about 20 percent.
Both of these certifications have been validated by the PMI, so they are a great way to prove your credibility and skills.
CAPM vs PMP Requirements
To become a certified project manager, you’ll need to meet some basic requirements regardless of which certification you are hoping to get. Below are some things you should consider before applying for either certification.
- Experience. To apply for a CAPM certificate, you should have either experience or education in project management.
- Professional development. You will need to have a high-school diploma or global equivalent.
- Project management education. You should have 23 hours of project management education. If you don’t, you must meet a higher work experience prerequisite.
- Education. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for this certificate. However, if you don’t have one, 7,500 hours of project management experience is an acceptable substitute.
- Experience. You should have 4,500 hours of professional work experience as a project manager, performing tasks like planning, monitoring, and managing a project.
- PM education. To take the PMP, you must have 35 hours of formal project management education, whether it is from a project management bootcamp or course.
CAPM vs PMP: Exam and Cost
You must pay a fee to take both exams. The cost is slightly cheaper if you’re a PMI member. You should evaluate which test will be best suited to your finances. Let’s look at the specific breakdown of costs below.
How Much Does CAPM Cost?
For PMI members, CAPM costs $225, while it costs $300 for nonmembers. An annual PMI membership costs $129 per year. This membership also includes other benefits like access to resources and exam prep materials.
How Much Does PMP Cost?
The PMP exam costs $405 for PMI members, while non-members pay $555. Keep in mind that some companies will pay for their employees’ training and certifications, so it is worth asking before you sign up.
CAPM vs PMP: Which Exam Is Easier?
Regardless of the type of certificate you apply for, you must be prepared to study intensely. Many professionals who have taken these tests believe that the CAPM exam is easier than the PMP test.
However, according to CBTNuggets, CAPM is still considered a very difficult entry-level exam. On the other hand, PMP includes difficult questions, but you should be prepared to answer them given your extensive work experience.
Remember, you can find resources online that will teach you how to successfully pass the exam. There are many project management courses that could help. Some of the best online project management certificate programs are offered at Regis University and Champlain College.
Pros and Cons of CAPM vs PMP
Each of these certificates is intended for a particular group of professionals. Now that you know some of the differences between the credentials, it’s important to also understand the key benefits and disadvantages of each.
- Salary increases. As we mentioned earlier, getting a CAPM certification could help you get a raise. This is a particularly good idea if you’ve already been working as a project manager for several years and feel that you deserve a pay boost.
- Employees in an entry-level position can do it. You don’t need a ton of experience to take a CAPM certification.
- It’s less expensive. The CAPM certification costs slightly less than the PMP, as it is considered less prestigious.
- Not as recognizable as a PMP. The CAPM is just the first project management certification. Once you have it, you can think bigger and try to receive a higher level of certification.
- There’s a lot of preparation involved. Remember that this exam is intense, so you must dedicate time to preparation.
- It is a remarkable certification. The PMP certification is one of the most recognizable in the field of project management. It will add significant value to your career and your CV, giving you confidence and credibility.
- Better job opportunities. Many companies will not hire a project manager who doesn’t have this certification. Therefore, it can open many doors for your career.
- You can be part of the PMP club. Once you get your certification, you’ll be part of the PMP club. It is an elite organization of top-notch project managers.
- It is more expensive. This certification is more expensive because it is so well respected.
- The exam is very challenging. This exam has some very tough questions, so again, you’ll need to spend a lot of time preparing. You can study using the Project Management Body of Knowledge guide.
- It requires a lot of experience. Entry-level professionals are not eligible for the PMP certification. You must have at least 4,500 hours of work experience.
Should You Get a CAPM or PMP Certificate?
Between the CAPM and PMP certificates, you will likely obtain the one that relates directly to your work experience and level of education. The best course of action is to get the CAPM certification if you’re in an entry-level position, then obtain a PMP certificate once you meet the more stringent requirements.
Advantages of Getting a CAPM
Some people use the CAPM as a jumping-off point to become a PMP certified professional. The CAPM will provide you with more job opportunities that you’ll need to gain the experience necessary to eventually take the PMP. Alternatively, you may want to skip the CAPM course and instead wait to get your PMP.
The advantage of having a CAPM certification is that it proves your knowledge even if you have zero experience. Therefore, it can give a major major boost to your career if you’re just getting started in project management.
Advantages of Getting a PMP
A PMP is the best way to show you are highly skilled in your field. If you have a couple of years working in project management, you’ll feel even more valuable once you have completed your PMP. This certification will also open doors to further your career, and gain you recognition as a professional project manager.
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