CAPM or PMP: Which Is Better?

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Last updated on
13th Jul, 2022
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19th Oct, 2021
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CAPM or PMP: Which Is Better?

Project Management is one of the fastest-growing professions around the world. Earning a project management certificate is not only a great way to build skills, position yourself as a valuable asset in your organization, and earn a bigger cheque, but also a great way to stay ahead of your peers. 

Two popular and in-demand certification options are the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Certification. Both of these certifications are offered by Project Management Institute (PMI) and understanding the difference between these two certifications is critical to decide and choose the right course that fits your career goals.  

In this blog, we will look into the differences between PMP and CAPM certification, including cost, difficulty levels, prerequisites, and industry demand; so, you can make an informed decision to fast-track your career towards success.

Know more about importance of project charter.

CAPM vs PMP Certification: Which is Right for You?

Before figuring out which course is right for you, let us start by understanding the differences. In simple terms, CAPM is considered as the beginner-level certification compared to PMP, which is a professional level course. 

Hence, the prerequisites required for CAPM are much lesser than PMP and the exam for CAPM is considered to be easier and less expensive as well. Having said that, PMP certification is better known, more prestigious, and highly likely to earn you a bigger paycheque.  

The Certified Associate Project Management (CAPM)® will help you stand out from your competitors and enhance your effectiveness and credibility while working on different projects. Take CAPM practice test to prepare well for the exam.

On the other hand, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification course is a qualification that is recognized industry wide. Becoming a PMP will enhance your work methodologies in any industry, regardless of the complexity of the projects being handled. This course covers a wide range of techniques and tools necessary in project management. This will help increase your earning potential as well as your confidence in your work. 

Difference between CAPM and PMP

CategoryCertified Associate Project Management (CAPM)®Project Management Professional (PMP)®
Difficulty LevelEntry LevelProfessional Level

Benefits
  • Great recognition by peers and project managers.
  • Potential salary increases
  • Steppingstone to becoming a PMP
  • Greater credibility and confidence
  • New job opportunities
  • Potential salary increases
What is examinedKnowledge of Project Management processes and understanding of terminologyKnowledge of Project Management and the ability to apply the same in real-life scenarios.
CostRelatively cheaper, compared to PMPRelatively more expensive, compared to CAPM

Benefits of the CAPM and PMP Certifications

Both CAPM and PMP have their own set of benefits. Let us look into each one of them.  

If you wish to acquire a CAPM certification, you should know that it will enhance your efficiency and is recognized to distinguish you from the others in the industry. Benefits of CAPM course include: 

  • Recognition of your success from a renowned professional body in the industry 
  • Respect from your peers and project management professionals 
  • Increased confidence in your abilities 
  • Career progression 
  • Possibility of receiving a higher salary at work 
  • Affordable compared to PMP certification 

If you have made up your mind about taking up the PMP certification, it will benefit you in the following ways:  

  • Professional recognition from your peers as well as the industry as a whole 
  • Higher understanding and experience in project management process 
  • Higher salary compared to un-certified project managers 
  • Wider range of job opportunities 
  • Greater professional responsibility 
  • Greater recognition compared to CAPM certification 

Both these courses give you access to a range of professional resources and an international network of fellow certificate holders. 

Certified Associate Project Management (CAPM)®Project Management Professional (PMP)®
Respect from your peers and project management professionalsHigher understanding and experience in project management process.
Increased confidence in your abilitiesHigher salary compared to un-certified project managers.
Career progressionWider range of job opportunities
Possibility of receiving a higher salary at workGreater professional responsibility
Affordable compared to PMP certificationGreater recognition compared to CAPM certification

How Difficult are the CAPM and PMP Certification Exams?

Before understanding the difficulty of the exams, let us learn the similarities between CAPM and PMP exams.

  • Both CAPM and PMP exams use a Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) as a base for their exams, but these two exams are not similar.  
  • Both exams follow the multiple-choice format of questions and are computer-based. Paper tests may be allowed in special circumstances.
  • Both the exams have non-scoring questions. The participant would not know which questions are non-scoring and hence it is important to answer all the questions given in the exam.
  • With the right training and guidance, both these exams can be cleared. KnowledgeHut provides exam guidance and mock tests to help aspirants nail their exam in one go (hyperlink CAPM and PMP pages from KH)

CAPM vs PMP Exam Requirements

There are fewer guidelines for CAPM exam compared to PMP as it is created for entry-level professionals who have minimal to no project management experience. On the other hand, PMP requires more time and effort and is designed for professionals who have experience in project management. Let us look at the requirements in detail. 

CAPM Certification: 

  • A Secondary degree (high school diploma, an associate degree, or equivalent that is globally accepted) 
  • 23 hours of project management education before writing the exam. To complete this requirement, you may want to consider an exam preparation course. For example, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification prepares you for the exam as well as meets the education requirement. 

PMP Certification:  

There are two routes to consider a PMP Certification. 

Option 1: 

  • Secondary Degree (high school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent) 
  • 60 months of experience in leading projects. 
  • 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification. 

Option 2:  

  • A four-year degree 
  • 36 months of experience in leading projects. 
  • 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification. 

PMI will waive off the 35-hour education requirement for the PMP exam if you are an active CAPM certification holder.

CAPM vs PMP Exams: What to Expect 

Like mentioned earlier, there are many similarities between CAPM and PMP exams. Both follow the PMBOK Guide and are designed by PMI and administered by Pearson VUE. Both exams cover a few of the same topics and neither exam allows reference material during the test. But there are some unique features to each of these exams. They are: 

CAPM vs PMP ExamCAPM ExamPMP Exam
Exam Components150 multiple-choice questions180 questions including multiple-choice, multiple response, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blanks
Exam Time Limit3 hours or 180 minutes3 hours and 50 minutes or 230 minutes.
Exam ContentCovers chapters from 1 to 13 of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)  Covers three domains: People, Process, and Business Environment. Use the PMP Examination Content Outline provided by PMI to prepare.  
Non-scoring questions15 questions25 questions
Format of examMultiple choiceMultiple choice
Method of examComputer-basedComputer-based

PMP vs CAPM: Roles and Responsibilities in Real World

What does a CAPM or a PMP do?

The real understanding of either of these certifications happens when you understand their real-world applications. After all, certifications are a means to a better career and if they do not meet your expectations, you should reconsider your choices.  

CAPM will give you a chance to start with entry-level project management roles. Assistant project manager, project coordinator, junior business analyst are some positions you would be qualified for. In these roles, you would be applying your coordinating skills, scheduling meetings, and creating an effective platform for communication.  

However, if you are someone with considerable technical experience, the CAPM certification will pave the way for a leadership position, which in turn can lead to a full-time project management position.  

With a PMP certification, the scenario is slightly different. You will be qualified for full-time project management roles where you will deal with different projects of all sizes and complexities. Project manager, program manager, project controller are some roles in your reach with this certification. You will be expected to lead large projects to their success on time and within budget. Once you are at the PMP level, your performance expectations are high, and it is assumed that you come with a great project management history. 

Since we are on this topic, it is important to understand that a single certification is only a section of what qualifies you for a given role. Enterprises will also look into your account experience, overall performance, communication skills, leadership capabilities, and other important variables while hiring. 

To put it in simpler words, a PMP certification will imply that you are excellent when it comes to understanding and implying project management principles in real-world situations whereas, a CAPM certification will imply that you have a good grasp of conceptual understanding of project management principles. 

With this outlook, it is easier to understand why PMP has a higher level of demand and why PMPs are placed into roles with higher responsibilities. 

Can you convert a CAPM to PMP?

You might think if converting a CAPM to PMP is possible. Since the CAPM is the first level on your PM journey, it does serve as the steppingstone to a PMP certification. 

While you cannot upgrade a CAPM to a PMP, obtaining a CAPM certification will definitely help you pursue a PMP certification. You will be able to add the project management education hours you gained while preparing for CAPM to your PMP exam prerequisite. But you cannot upgrade your CAPM certificate to a PMP certificate without sitting for and passing the PMP exam as well. 

If you are just beginning your career in project management, a CAPM certification can be a great step towards becoming a PMP and successfully shaping your career, with higher pay and recognition as a project manager.   

Conclusion 

To wrap things up, we have discussed the differences, similarities, and prerequisites of each of these courses. Both PMP and CAPM certifications can add value to an aspiring project manager's career.  

If you are someone just starting out in the project management field, CAPM is a recommended course as it is an entry-level certification. But on the other hand, if you have the necessary experience in the project management field, PMP should be your go-to course to enhance your career, as CAPM would do little for you from a development perspective in your career. 

Both these certifications have their own list of pros and cons. They are both highly recognized certifications and as a certification-seeker, you need to make your choice based on what you are eligible for and what your end goal is. 

What will you decide? 

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