CAPM vs. PMP | Which is Better for You?


Yad Senapathy, PMP January 24, 2023

Project management is one of the most popular and interesting career fields in the 21st century. Professionals trained in project management play a critical role in companies, and corporations of all sizes, ensuring the organization's success in kickstarting new projects. However, people don't hire folks off the sidewalk to manage their projects; most companies are looking to hire professionals, specifically those with a project management certification. That's where the Project Management Institute (PMI) comes in.

Overview of Project Management Institute

Established in 1975 to "foster recognition of the need for professionalism in project management; provide a forum for the free exchange of project management problems, solutions, and applications."

PMI is a globally recognized non-profit professional association dedicated to molding the future of project management professionals. The PMI organization has a wide variety of certifications and resources for aspiring professionals, as well as a network and opportunities for project management professionals via global events. This institute is perfect for young and old professionals whose goal is to help them hone their skills and grow their network.

However, one of the biggest conundrums aspiring project management professionals face is selecting a certification.

The two widely-recognized options for project management professionals are the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP). Both certifications are available at the Project Management Institute (PMI) and are valuable in their way. However, both offer different levels of experience and career aspirations for project management professionals.


To better understand the two certifications, we will need to dive deeply into CAPM and PMP before we can conclude which is the better.


Certified Associate in Project Management is a common certification for new and aspiring project management professionals. It's also useful for veterans who want to improve their understanding of project management principles and learn more relevant ideas.

The CAPM certification is designed for entry-level project managers or those who have just entered the project management field. It is a great stepping stone for individuals who originally wanted to obtain the coveted Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The reason why that's the case is that PMP is a more advanced level of certification.

CAPM Requirements

First, individuals must have 1,500 hours and 23 hours of related education in project management experience. Before jumping, or at the very least, a secondary degree that includes a school diploma, associate's degree, or some global equivalent to be eligible for the CAPM certification and attempt the examination.


The CAPM certification examination has 150 multiple-choice questions with a time duration of three hours. The examination, which changed in 2023, tests the knowledge of individuals covering different domains mentioned in the following table.

capm exam

Domain Percentage in Exam
Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts 36%
Predictive, Plan-based Methodologies 17%
Agile Framework 20%
Business Analysis Frameworks 27%
Total 100%

Furthermore, different tasks are covered in each domain to test individual aptitude in project management.

Obtaining the CAPM certification showcases to your employers or clients that you have a basic understanding of project management and its different practices and are committed to growing as a professional project manager. The certification also proves that the individual is competent enough to apply the knowledge they practically acquired about project management and can be a valuable asset to their client and organizations.

Benefits of CAPM Certification

Following are some benefits of getting a CAPM certification.

Industry-Wide Recognition

The CAPM certification is a widely-recognized professional credential demonstrating a candidate's knowledge and proficiency in best project management practices, processes, principles, and industry standards.

Opportunities for Career Development and Advancement

CAPM-certified professionals are qualified for a wide range of job titles, such as associate project manager, junior project manager, program manager, project coordinator, and technical project manager. Additionally, the certification process helps develop leadership skills beneficial in various work environments.

Increased Earning Potential

The average salary for a CAPM-certified professional is around $68,000 per year. The PMI's salary survey also shows that entry-level project managers in the US have a median annual salary of $78,280.

However, earning potential can vary based on location, education, company size, certifications, and experience.

Path to PMP Certification

Holding a CAPM certification satisfies the PMP's requirement of 35 hours of project management training or education. This certification can be a valuable stepping stone for pursuing PMP certification.


On the other hand, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a step up to CAPM. It is considered a more advanced level of certification and is what every experienced project manager wishes to have on their resume. It is a globally recognized certification for all project management professionals.

Getting the PMP certification lets future employers and clients of the project manager know that they are hiring the perfect candidate to spearhead their projects. PMP certification means you are familiar with and thoroughly understand project management and its practices. The certification also proves that the holder can practically apply knowledge, lead and direct cross-functional teams, and be an asset to their team and organization.

PMP credential holders also have access to exclusive resources and networking opportunities through the PMI and have the opportunity to keep their knowledge and skills current through ongoing continuing education and certification renewal requirements.

The PMP certification is a great credential to have for any project manager. It demonstrates an experiential understanding of traditional, agile, and hybrid project management principles and practices and proves commitment to ongoing professional development.

The certification is highly valued by organizations and is considered a benchmark for demonstrating proficiency and credibility in project management, which can open up new career opportunities and increase earning potential for individuals.

Requirements of PMP Certification

Much like the CAPM certification, project management students need a secondary degree, a high school diploma, an associate's degree, or any global equivalent to qualify for the prized PMP certification.

However, unlike CAPM, PMP requires individuals with bachelor's degrees to have a minimum of 36 months of project management experience, while those with secondary degrees such as high school diplomas or associate's degrees must have at least 60 months of project management experience. Also, individuals must have completed at least 35 hours of project management education.

Find out about PMTI PMP exam prep boot camp to earn 35 contact hours.

PMP Certification Exam

pmp exam

The PMP certification examination is slightly longer than a CAPM examination, with 180 mostly multiple-choice questions, and must be done within 230 minutes (3 hours 50 minutes). The exam has been broken down into three parts which are as follows.

Domain Percentage in Exam
People 42%
Process 50%
Business 8%
Total 100%

The examination covers all the basic five process groups of project management: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, and Controlling. It also includes the ten knowledge areas: Integration, Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communication, Risk, Stakeholders, and Procurement. Additionally, with the major changes to the PMP exam starting in 2021, the exam is heavily biased towards the Agile project approach and hybrid project methodology.

The PMP certification examination is lengthier and more comprehensive than the CAPM exam, as the certification covers more advanced concepts and project management practices.

Benefits of PMP Certification

Some benefits of getting a PMP certification are mentioned below.

Career Advancement

There is high demand for project managers across multiple industries, such as manufacturing and construction, information and publishing, and finance and insurance. A PMP credential gives you an advantage when applying for jobs in these fields, as it demonstrates your knowledge, skills, and experience.

A PMP certification also opens up opportunities for more advanced positions, such as project director, business project manager, product manager, etc.

Professional Development

PMP certification not only opens the doors to new job opportunities but also provides an opportunity to develop essential skills like communication, conflict resolution, strategic decision-making, etc.

PMP certificants are found all over the world. This certification offers an opportunity to network with them and develop advanced skills. PMI and its Authorized Training Partners, such as PMTI, offer opportunities to get advanced training in modern project tools and techniques.

Increased Earning Potential

PMI's salary survey shows that PMPs globally earn median annual salaries 16% higher on average than their peers who are not PMP-certified. In the US, the average salary increase jumps to 32%. PMP credential is a valuable asset that can help you increase your earning potential, but the salary depends on various factors such as education, experience, location, and job title.

Global Recognition

PMP certification is recognized globally, becoming essential in many project management roles. It validates your knowledge and skills, making it an attractive option for professionals looking to expand their professional network and work on international projects.

Which One is Best for You?

The thing is that it all depends on your level of experience and career aspirations. The CAPM certification is a great starting point if you're new to project management or looking to move into a project management role. It demonstrates a basic understanding of project management practices and proves commitment to ongoing professional development. However, the PMP certification is the better option if you're an experienced project manager looking to advance your career. It demonstrates a thorough understanding of project management and its practices, is highly valued by organizations, and is considered a benchmark for demonstrating proficiency and credibility in project management.

For your convenience, we have shared the table that shows the difference between both certifications.

capm pmp exam

Exam CAPM Exam PMP Exam
Exam Fee $225 (PMI Member)
$300 (Non-member)
$405 (PMI Member)
$575 (Non-member)
Exam Components 150 questions 180 questions
Exam Time Limit 180 minutes 230 minutes


In summary, CAPM and PMP are great certifications for project managers at different experience levels. If you're new to the field or looking for a stepping stone for PMP certification, CAPM could be your choice, and if you're an experienced project manager looking to demonstrate your expertise, PMP could be your best pick.

pmp 35 contact hoursSatisfies 35 contact hours

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