Deciding whether to get an MBA (master of business administration) degree or a PMP (project management professional) certification doesn’t have to be a daunting experience.
Below we will discuss the differences between these educational paths so you can decide which one may be right for you.
What Is PMP?
A PMP certificate is for those who wish to become a project manager. No matter the career, if your responsibility is to bring projects to completion, you should consider a PMP program.
Offered by the Project Management Institution, it is a specialized, internationally recognized certificate. To obtain this certification, you must complete a course and pass an exam based on the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
Project Manager Professional Salaries and Job Outlook
As a new field, there are not many qualified PMPs in the market. Therefore, your chance of getting a high-paying job as a project manager is relatively high.
In 2019, the salary for a PMP without certification in the US was $100,000 per year. But with qualification, that salary could increase by 20 percent.
What Is an MBA?
An MBA is a valuable degree that covers many key practices used in businesses. However, it’s not as specialized as a PMP certificate.
Students usually start with a four-year degree or a course in business administration before moving on to this two-year master’s degree.
When studying for a master’s degree you will learn about subjects like accounting, business communication, human resources, supply-chain management, entrepreneurship, and marketing.
MBA Salaries and Job Outlook
An MBA allows you to work in many different professions or even become your own boss. Those that utilize MBAs include product managers, financial analysts, business analysts, and operations managers.
A business development manager, for example, can earn an average starting salary of $71,280 per year. With more experience and training, that salary increases to $190,000 per year.
PMP vs MBA: Differences and Similarities
Below you’ll find some of the most important differences and similarities between a PMP certification and an MBA.
Broad Base vs Specialization
An MBA is a broad-based degree that covers many skills and areas. A PMP certificate, meanwhile, is more specialized and focuses mainly on project management.
Different Career Paths
An MBA allows you to work many different types of jobs, including as a financial advisor, business analyst, actuary, financial planner, chartered accountant, or financial manager.
The PMP certificate allows you to work in one primary profession: project management.
With an MBA, you can easily switch careers using your business education. But with a PMP certificate, you will primarily work your way up the ladder as a project manager.
With a PMP certificate and additional training, your salary is similar to an MBA professional.
Both awards help you join some of the fastest-growing professions in the world. Some project managers get both a PMP certificate and an MBA to increase their overall value.
Both of these educational paths will require classroom time. Remember, an online master’s degree program can be completed in two years.
MBA vs PMP: Requirements
Requirements for a PMP certificate and MBA degree are not so different.
- Schooling. PMP certification requires a bachelor’s degree in project management and work experience. Once you get your certificate, you should continue learning through online resources.
- Continued education. Many decide to get a PMP certificate following their MBA as it can be required for a project manager.
- Schooling. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is usually required to move on to a master’s.
- Work experience. Between two and three years of work experience, and sometimes letters of recommendation, are required to enter an MBA program.
MBA vs PMP: Exam and Cost
The cost of acquiring an MBA or PMP certificate differs depending on your route. We look at some options below.
How Much Does a PMP Certification Cost?
Costs will depend on your country and the institution you attend. PMI members get discounts on exams, textbooks, and e-learning material.
To become a PMI member you must visit their website and register. Fees for members and non-members in the US are found below.
- PMI membership fee: $129 per year plus a $10 application fee.
- Exam fee: Non-members pay $555 while members pay $405
- Application of certification exam: Non-member pay $400 while members pay $250
- Re-exam fee: Non-members pay $375 and members pay $275
How Much Does an MBA Degree Cost?
Here’s the cost breakdown for an MBA degree.
- GMAT exam: $250
- Re-exam: $20
- Late registration: $35
Once you’ve passed the GMAT, you can enroll in a business school. A breakdown by country of university options can be found online.
MBA vs PMP: Which Exam Is Easier?
Both an MBA and PMP certificate require their fair share of studying. Is one easier than the other? We compare them below.
The PMP exam is based on one main source: the PMBOK. If you study this thoroughly your chances of passing will easily be better. You can download this directly from PMI’s website.
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Regarding an MBA and exam difficulty, firstly, if you’re looking for a broad and formal education in all things business, get an MBA as it has more potential to open doors that a PMP credential on its own may not do.
Regarding the MBA exam, in the US, every year candidates send their GMAT scores to US universities that offer MBA courses, as this is a prerequisite to get enrolled in any MBA program. The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) tests your analytic, verbal, quantitative, and reading skills, along with the IELTS/TOEFL scores.
Some colleges also accept GRE scores for business school admissions, and both the GRE and GMAT are similar, however, GMAT is recognized in more institutions and jobs.
So, if your asking whether one is easier than the other, the answer is not as clear-cut as you would hope. Both are equally difficult and require extensive studying and preparation. If you want to get a feel for both exams, there are online GMAT practice tests and GRE practice tests you can take.
MBA vs PMP: Pros and Cons
You can find some of the pros and cons of an MBA or a PMP certificate below.
- Job opportunities. This degree improves your chances in a highly-competitive job market.
- Global markets. It can also expose you to a global market and enhance your knowledge of the global economy.
- Networking. You’ll join thousands of alumni and have access to top professionals in your field.
- Cost. It takes a financial commitment. Besides the tuition fees, there are the costs of books and maybe accommodation. Some institutions offer tuition help like paying upfront at a discount, paying by installments, scholarships, or grants.
- Long-term commitment. Your MBA education will usually last around two years. Some choose to do a four-year bachelor’s plus master’s degree online.
- Lack of specialization. An MBA will give you the building blocks for later specialization.
PMP Certification Pros
- Proven knowledge. This certificate shows you have the knowledge and experience to direct projects.
- Salary. This is the highest-paid IT certification. Certified PMPs have higher salaries than non-certified project managers.
- Resume. It will look great on your resume and you’re sure to be in demand.
PMP Certification Cons
- It is expensive. The 35 hours of formal education, plus the exam is costly unless you are a PMI member.
- The exam is time-consuming. Everything needs to be meticulously documented. Examiners need detailed information including in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
- Expiration date. Certificate renewal is done every three years, once you submit 60 professional development units as required by the PMI.
Should You Get an MBA or PMP Certification?
Getting a PMP certification or an MBA degree is worth it if you are working in business or project management.
Advantages of Getting PMP Certified
This qualification most certainly helps project managers get better jobs, higher salaries, and more networking opportunities.
Advantages of Getting an MBA
The economy is in constant flux. An MBA can help you land a job or even become an entrepreneur.
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