Which is the must have certification for project management experts – PMP or CAPM?

PMP or CAPM: Which is a Must for Project Management Experts?
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Eshna Verma

Published on February 20, 2015


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Individuals who wish to further their careers in project management require the right certification. Two of the most sought after certifications in the field are the PMP and CAPM. But, which one is right for you? Can you apply for either (or both)? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? Here are a few basics of each certification to help you decide which is the right one for you and your career path, working as a project manager. 


CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)

For individuals who hope to have a career in project management, this is the certification to work towards. Although it is an entry level certification, it can greatly bolster your credentials. In order to qualify for these certification applicants must have experience in project works, must have basic knowledge in project management, and must already hold a secondary diploma. 


PMP (Project Management Professional)

For individuals who already have experience working as a project manager, this is the certification to work towards. It is an advanced certification, meaning applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, and must have a minimum of three years working as a project manager. Individuals who have secondary education, have completed at least 35 hours in studies related to project management, and have at least 5 years experience in the project management industry, also qualify to sit in for this certification exam.  

Preparing for PMP Certification? Take this test to know where you stand!

The benefits of each  
When deciding whether the CAPM or PMP certification is right for you, it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each. The benefits of attaining the CAPM include: 

  • It is an entry-level certification. This means you don't need a higher-level degree to sit in for the exam, and it affords more individuals the opportunity to work in the project management field. 
  • It highlights your resume and shows potential employers you are dedicated to the field of project management. 
  • It showcases your eagerness to learn and grow in the field of project management. 

In comparison to PMP, the CAPM has fewer requirements, and requires less time of schooling. 
Also, with the CAPM certification, there is a 5 year cycle, meaning you do not have to get re-certified, and sit in for exams as often as with the PMP. 


Training methodology
Like the CAPM, there are a number of benefits for individuals who choose to attain a PMP certification. Among these are: 
  • The PMP will push you to the top of the management field, as it is an advanced level certification. 
  • It showcases your eagerness to grow in project management to receive continual education, and that you are in pursuit of increasing your knowledge in the industry. 
  • It enhances your credibility. Since you are required to have 5 years experience, plus a bachelor's degree, it shows employers you are dedicated and have a solid footing in the industry. 
  • In order to maintain your certification, you have to sit in for re-certification training and exams every three years, showing employers you are dedicated, and willing to grow in the field through continual education training. 
The drawbacks of each
Like any other degree or certification training with the CAPM and PMP, there are also certain drawbacks to consider. In terms of the CAPM, you must consider it is only an entry-level certification. This means the pay potential is greater than individuals who aren't certified at all, but will never reach that level a PMP earns. You must also go through continual education training, and must sit in for re-certification every 5 years. With a CAPM, you are also limited in the types of jobs you will be able to attain, so long as you do not continue your educational training. 

There are also certain drawbacks to hold a PMP certification, and taking the time to undergo the training. It is going to take much longer to attain this certification. In addition to attaining your bachelor's degree, you are also required to complete 60 professional development units prior to being able to sit in for the certification exam. You must also take a certification exam every three years with this type of certification, in order to ensure it remains up to date. 


Which one is right for you?

This really depends upon your personal career goals, and the earning capacity you hope to earn. Among the two, employers are likely to give more weight to the PMP, simply because it requires more work, and showcases the employees willingness to continue their education and training in the field. However, individuals who are looking for an entry level position, and wish to grow with a company over time, will have a great stepping stone above other applicants who are seeking entry level jobs, who do not hold a CAPM. 

You must also consider the amount of time it takes to attain the degree. Some people are happy earning $50,000 to $60,000 annually, and do not want to go through continual training and education. In this case, the CAPM may be the right option for you. But, individuals who wish to continue their educational training, and wish to become the leader in their field of project management, are going to receive the highest training and certifications possible. Further, with the PMP comes with higher pay wages, and more opportunities to manage in the industry. If you are at this end of the spectrum, and already have an advanced degree, then the PMP certification may be the route for you to take when deciding which type of certification to get. 

With either of these certifications, you will be able to advance your career. Individuals who hold the PMP will be given more opportunities and will be able to earn higher wages than those who simply hold the CAPM. However, individuals who are looking for entry level positions and reasonable pay while continuing their education and training will benefit from attaining CAPM certification. 

In short, neither will hurt your career. But, those who want to excel, earn higher wages, and wish to work in the highest project management career fields possible will strive to earn their PMP certification over time.

About the Author

Eshna is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.


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