For project managers, there is a number of choices for certification, but two of them are the most important: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) and Project Management Professional (PMP®).

CAPM, a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, has lower requirements that PMP.

The Prerequisites for CAPM or PMP Certification

The PMI website provides us with a simple summary of the prerequisites for each certification.

CAPM Certification Prerequisites

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 1,500 hours of project experience

OR

  • 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam. Our Project Management Basics online course fulfills this educational prerequisite.

PMP Certification Prerequisites

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

OR

  • Four-year degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

As the prerequisites for the PMP certification are significantly higher, it can mean it’s out of reach for millions. The lower requirements for CAPM, including just taking an online course, can go a long way to helping future project managers get a certification that demonstrates that they have training and knowledge.

CAPM Certification for Managers

One advantage to CAPM is that the certification is available to managers that are not currently project managers.

For example, a retailer manager can apply project management skills to a store reset, those projects where the products in a store are moved from one area of the building to the other.  Even when the final floor plan is handed down by a corporate office, it rarely comes with a course of action. In fact, most often, the corporate office only knows what they have and what they want, not how to get from point A to point B.

That’s where the skills of a project manager are invaluable. The very definition of a project manager is the person who gets a team from point A to point B, from a starting point to an end-goal, smoothly and with as little disruption as possible.

CAPM provides certification for managers to use in their current roles, rather than just waiting to be assigned a project.

Education Level for CAPM Certification

One significant different between the PMP and the CAPM is that the PMP rewards a person with a 4-year degree, whereas the CAPM doesn’t even require a high school diploma.

The education level of the applicant is important, but CAPM makes it possible for everyone to get started as a project manager. Once they have their CAPM, a professional can apply for project management positions, build up the experience to get to the PMP. It’s a great first step to building a project management career.

Salaries: CAPM or PMP v No Certification

Since the CAPM and the PMP certifications are improved levels for project managers, it makes sense that those salaries are higher.

Project managers’ average salary, with experience, will typically be around $70,000. That’s with no certification, but with a resume that reflects experience.

CAPM certified project managers win salaries that range from $85,000 to $110,000 with the average somewhere near $94,000.

PMP certified project managers make even more. PMP salaries start around $93,000 and rise to over $145,000. The average in near $121,000.

The advantage for most project managers is that they can get their CAPM certification and quickly whereas PMP certification is harder to get.

Using the CAPM as a stepping stone to the PMP is a logical way to do it. Once one has their CAPM, they can get jobs that will prepare them for PMP certification.

Of course, the irony is that now, many companies require PMP certification, but this isn’t a certification one can get without experience. In other words, the struggle is that PMP jobs require that you’re already a PMP. The CAPM is rapidly being accepted as a mid-point that will get one started working in project management.

CAPM Exam Outline

The CAPM exam is half the size of the PMP exam – 150 questions, all multiple choice.

Here is the outline for the exam and the percent of the test that each section represents:

1. Introduction to Project Management (6%)
2. Project Environment (6%)
3. Role of the Project Manager (7%)
4. Project Integration Management (9%)
5. Project Scope Management (9%)
6. Project Schedule Management (9%)
7. Project Cost Management (8%)
8. Project Quality Management (7%)
9. Project Resource Management (8%)
10. Project Communication Management (10%)
11. Project Risk Management (8%)
12. Project Procurement Management (4%)
13. Project Stakeholder Management (9%)

As can be seen, the entire exam is important, but some sections carry more weight than others. Those sections should take up more of the student’s study time initially.

The professional advantages of CAPM Certification

The Certified Associate in Project Management is a major boost for any resume. The CAPM is proof to a future employer that the applicant has professional training and has been formally tested to prove that they know their stuff.

The exam last for three hours. It’s not as arduous as some tests, but three hours of testing requires focus and effort.

By being able to show that they understand the principles of the project management, an applicant has an advantage over the competition. Most importantly, it shows the applicant is trained in the international standards of project management.

PMI and International Standards

The most important thing that employers like about CAPM is that shows that the applicant understands the global guidelines that Project Management Institute helped to create and promote.

These guidelines are recognized in every nation of the world as the standard for project management. For the company, it means that their projects will be done correctly and that a team of project managers, no matter where they’re from, will be able to speak to each other.

Even though CAPM isn’t the top certification from PMI, it is proof positive that the applicant knows what they’re talking about and that they are conversant in the terminology and procedures of project management.

Should I get my CAPM certification?

If you plan on being a project manager, but don’t have the experience or education to go for the PMP certification, CAPM certification is an excellent option.

As stated above, it’s proof that you know your stuff. Since you can sit for the exam just by taking a course, you can get certified without having to hope that you can get a project management job first.

The short answer is, yes. Get your CAPM certification.