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Project management

Which project management certification is right for you?

Caitlin McCormack 6 min read
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Besides being an excellent way to distinguish yourself from the crowd of managers, any form of project management certification will obviously benefit your career. Project management certifications are designed to equip you with a great grounding in the skills and strategies required for ultimate project management success. The differences between the courses have more to do with methodology than the basic skills, so whatever you take up won’t restrict your choice of employment in future.

But, is a project management certification necessary? Well, the truth is that getting one won’t hurt. So, which project management certification is right for you? This entirely depends on you. But before we look at what project management certifications are right for you, let’s first understand why you should get certified.


Why Should You Get a PM Certification?

Whether you’re a newbie trying to get up the ladder or a veteran, there is always a project management certification for you. And if you are not convinced, here are a few reasons why you should get a PM certification.

1. Global Knowledge

Some institutes and online portals such as the Project Management Institute are known to offer world-class certifications to aspiring project managers. Once you earn your certification from a reliable provider, you become qualified to showcase your expertise and skills to companies across the globe. Once you are recognized in the industry, you can enjoy global acceptance and acknowledgment to work in a project management role wherever you want.

2. Salary Increase

Another reason why you should get a PM certification is the steep salary increase you should expect. According to Master of Project Academy, you can expect a 20% increase in salary if you’re PMP certified compared to an uncertified project manager. This shows that quality PM certifications could earn you a 20% salary growth.

3. Better Project Performance

A certified project management professional performs better than one who isn’t certified. Through certification, individuals become well aware of processes like project planning, initiation, monitoring, execution, closure as well as risk management and PM best practices. This valuable information helps project managers take the right steps towards better performance and overall productivity.

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Top Project Management Certifications

1. Project Management Professional

Arguably the gold standard in project management certifications, the Project Management Professional certification is quite a rigorous test that covers everything you will need to prove your skill and knowledge in managing the “triple constraints”: cost, scope, and time. The Project Management Institute is this certification’s source organization and continually works with academia and businesses to ensure relevance for this credential.

Of all project management certifications we have looked at, the PMP certification is probably the hardest to get – their prerequisite experience is quite extensive, the application process is quite demanding, and the training and exam isn’t an easy feat.

Project Management Certification

Requirements for PMP Certification

  • First, you will need a four-year degree and at least three years of experience in project management, 4,500 hours directing or leading projects and 35 hours of PM classes
  • 35 hours of PM education
  • Pass the Project Management professional exam – contains 200 multiple-choice questions with four hours to complete.
  • To maintain the PMP, you need to earn 60 professional development units every three years.

Price: PMP certification costs about $2,000.

  • $1,500 is for the PMP project management course in preparation for exams
  • $405 – $555 for the examination. Members will pay $405 while non-members pay $555. For the paper-based exam, you pay $250 – $400.

2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

If you’ve not been in project management long enough to earn the PMP certification, you should consider the CAPM certification as a starting point. This is PMI’s entry-level PM certification – only 23 hours of training are required or less than a year’s experience – intended to equip a candidate with the fundamental terminology, knowledge, and processes of effective project management.

Requirements for CAPM Certification

  • A high school certificate, associate’s degree or equivalent or 1,500 hours of PM experience
  • 23 hours of project management classes
  • Pass the CAPM certification exam which has 150 multiple-choice questions, with three hours to complete.
  • To maintain the CAPM certification, you need to retake the exam after every five years.

Price: The CAPM project management certification will cost you about $500.

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3. CompTIA Project+ Certification

CompTIA Project+ PM certification is an excellent entry-level certification that’s roughly at par with the CAPM credential, though its requirements are less stringent. This makes this credential a great option for beginners. Contrary to the CAPM certification which you must renew after five years, the CompTIA Project+ certification is considered good for life and doesn’t require renewal.

Requirements for CompTIA Project+ Certification

  • 1 year of PM experience is recommended
  • Pass the CompTIA Project+ exam which has 95 multiple-choice questions, with 90 minutes to complete.

Price: CompTIA Project+ certifications costs $520.

  • $200 for the CompTIA Project+ exam preparation course
  • $319 for the exam (could be taken at a Pearson Vue test center)

4. PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner

Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) is a PM method that’s originally from the UK and which guides students through the essentials of managing successful projects. The PRINCE2 certification could be tailored to meet your requirements, and they even provide an agile variant with the PRINCE2 Agile. This course mainly focuses on project management, direction, and delivery from pre-project, initiation, delivery, and post-delivery phases of the project.

PRINCE2 Foundation certification is more entry-level and tests basic knowledge of the PM field, whereas the PRINCE2 Practitioner tests more advanced understanding of project managers who have earned the foundation certification. One aspect to love about the PRINCE2 certification is that unlike PMP, there are no prerequisites for experience, so you could take the course and get certified in one week.

Requirements for PRINCE2 Certification

  • The PRINCE2 Foundation requires that you take a Foundation Course that lasts two days
  • The PRINCE2 Practitioner requires CAPM, PMP, IPMA, or a PRINCE2 Foundation certification.
  • Pass both PRINCE2 exams – PRINCE2 Foundation has 60 multiple-choice questions and takes an hour. PRINCE2 Practitioner is more laborious, with 80 questions and taken in 2.5 hours
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate has a 3-year validity period, after which you can retake the exam or maintain the certification through membership.

Price: PRINCE2 PM certification costs $700 – $1500.

  • $500 – $1000 for the PRINCE2 exam preparation course
  • $200 for PRINCE2 Foundation certification or $300 for PRINCE2 Practitioner

The demand for these top project management certifications is high, and having any or all could separate you from other uncertified project managers. Enroll in one of these certifications and brace for a tremendous rise in your career.

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