10 PMI Certifications to Level Up Your Project Management Career

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 6, 2021

From the associate level CAPM to the portfolio management credential PfMP, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several certifications for project managers at stages levels in their careers.

Project manager looks through PMI certifications

What exactly is a PMI certification?

PMI certifications are credentials administered by the professional organization, Project Management Institute (PMI). Ranging from the entry-level to advanced, the broad and the niche, a PMI certification can help early-career professionals boost their careers, or solidify the expertise of seasoned project managers.

A PMI credential might come in handy as the labor market increasingly demands project management skills. The global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030, according to the PMI [1].

Read more: The PMP Certification: A Guide to Getting Started

PMI Certifications

The PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most popular and widely recognized certification. But PMI offers several other certifications that can be suited for professionals at various stages in their careers.

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

With over a million certificate holders around the world, the PMP is one of the most popular and well-recognized certificates in this field. Getting the certification includes a rigorous exam that tests your knowledge of managing people, conducting processes, and making business-minded decisions.

The exam consists of 175 scored questions related to such tasks as planning and managing a project's scope and engaging stakeholders.

  • Good for: Professionals who already have some experience managing projects and want to level up their careers

  • Who qualifies: Requirements to sit the exam include 36 months of experience leading projects if you have a bachelor’s degree, or 60 months if you have a high-school diploma or associate degree. You’ll also need to complete 35 hours of project management training or coursework (this can also be substituted with the CAPM certification—see below).

  • Cost: $555 for non-PMI members, $405 for PMI members

2. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM is geared toward people who hope to manage projects, take on more responsibility, or add project management skills to their resumes. The CAPM is open to professionals at any stage of their project management careers, making it a solid option for those who are starting out.

The exam covers such learning objectives as project communication management and project risk management.

  • Good for: Those just getting started with project management who are looking to grow their experience and expertise in this field

  • Who qualifies: Since the CAPM is for professionals just starting to gain their project management chops, no significant previous experience is required. You do need a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree, or an equivalent), and are expected to complete 23 hours of project management education before you take the exam.

  • Cost: $300 for non-PMI members, $225 for PMI members

Still a student? As of December 2021, PMI offered a student bundle that includes PMI membership and a $75 discount on the CAPM exam.

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3. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

The PMI-ACP certifies your competency in Agile project management, a style of project management that emphasizes short sprints and adaptability. The exam consists of 100 scored items in areas such as problem detection and resolution and adaptive planning.

  • Good for: Project managers who have some Agile experience and intend to continue using Agile in their teams or organization

  • Who qualifies: Prerequisites include 21 hours of training in Agile, one year of general project experience in the last five years (or a current PMP or PgMP certification), and at least eight months of Agile project experience in the last three years.

  • Cost: $495 for non-PMI members, $435 for PMI members

4. Disciplined Agile

PMI offers four certifications in Disciplined Agile: Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM), Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM), Disciplined Agile Coach (DAC), and Disciplined Agile Value Stream Consultant (DAVSC). With varying levels of experience needed, the certifications allow beginners to learn the basics of the methodology, and more seasoned Agile users to deepen their skill set.

  • Good for: Project managers who regularly work with Agile and Scrum

  • Who qualifies: Candidates as many as three years of experience working in Agile in a leadership role. Each credential also requires completing a training program from a qualifying Disciplined Agile course provider that will take two to three days.

  • Cost: Varies depending on the training partner selected

5. Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)

Successful project management often means having a good understanding of how to manage business objectives. The PMI-PBA exam consists of 175 scored questions. It will test you in needs assessment, planning, monitoring, evaluation, and other criteria related to the business analysis-related aspects of project management.

  • Good for: Professionals who want to build on their specialized knowledge of business analysis

  • Who qualifies: To qualify, you’ll need to have 60 months of business experience and 35 contact hours of coursework in business analysis if you have a high school diploma or associate degree, and 36 months of business experience and 35 contact hours of coursework if you have a bachelor’s degree.

  • Cost: $555 for non-PMI members, $405 for PMI members

6. Program Management Professional (PgMP)

The PgMP is designed for professionals who are advanced in their careers and can oversee multiple projects for the success of a program. PgMP holders are expected to be able to steer complex tasks across different organizations, geographic locations, and cultures. Obtaining the PgMP entails successfully passing a panel review and taking a certification exam. The exam consists of 150 scored questions covering such tasks as developing relationships with stakeholders and evaluating new or existing project risks.

  • Good for: Program managers who have several years of experience and have managed complex projects

  • Who qualifies: A relatively advanced certification, the PgMP is geared toward those with several years of program management experience. Prerequisites include 48 months of managing a project (or a PMP), and 48 months of program management experience in the last 15 years if you have a bachelor's degree (84 months in the last 15 years if you have a high school diploma or associate degree).

  • Cost: $1,000 for non-PMI members, $800 for PMI members

7. Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

If you’ve successfully managed one or multiple portfolios for an organization, the PfMP can be the stamp that shows your competency. The certification process involves a panel review and a multiple-choice exam. The exam consists of 150 scored questions covering maintaining a communication strategy and monitoring portfolio performance.

  • Good for: Those who have taken their careers into portfolio management and have achieved an executive or senior level

  • Who qualifies: To apply for the PfMP, you’ll need a minimum of 96 months of professional business experience within the last 15 years, and 84 months of portfolio management experience if you have a high school diploma or associate degree. That number drops to 48 months of portfolio management experience if you have a bachelor’s degree.

  • Cost: $1,000 for non-PMI members, $800 for PMI members

8. PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

The PMI-RMP is designed to verify the skills of advanced professionals in risk management. PMI-RMPs will have the credentials to show that they are ready to assess and reduce risk for large or complex projects.

The exam consists of 150 scored questions covering such areas as analyzing risk process performance and educating stakeholders in risk principles and processes.

  • Good for: Risk management professionals with several years of experience

  • Who qualifies: If you have a high school diploma, associate degree, or an equivalent credential, you’ll need to have 36 months of experience managing project risk in the last five years, plus 40 hours of project risk management education. With a four-year degree, you’ll need 24 months of project risk management experience in the last five years, and 30 hours of project risk management education.

  • Cost: $670 for non-PMI members, $520 for PMI members

9. PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

Good scheduling can be crucial to the success of a project. PMI-SPs will verify your capacity as a professional to create optimal schedules for teams and projects in the twenty-first century—global, virtual, and highly complex.

The exam consists of 150 scored questions covering areas such as estimating activity durations and performing schedule risk analysis.

  • Good for: Project managers who want to deepen and demonstrate their scheduling capacity

  • Who qualifies: You’ll need some experience handling schedules before you apply to be a PMI-SP. If you have a high school diploma or associate degree, you’ll need to have spent 40 months in the last five years project scheduling, with 40 hours of project scheduling coursework. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need 28 months of project scheduling experience within the last five years, and 30 hours of education in project scheduling.

  • Cost: $670 for non-PMI members, $520 for PMI members

10. PMI Project Management Ready

Designed for students, the PMI Project Management Ready certification is a unique credential that will introduce learners to basic project management concepts. The credential exposes young students to the project management community and enhances their lives with organizational and management skills.

  • Good for: Students and anybody else who wants to gain exposure to the world of project management

  • Who qualifies: Anybody who can read at a seventh-grade level, has basic computer skills, and is capable of participating in training and taking exams can qualify for this credential.

  • Cost: $120

Are PMI certifications worth it?

A professional certification from the PMI can show employers and other industry insiders your competency in project management. That said, deciding if a PMI certification can give you the skills you need and bolster your career depends on your unique situation, industry, and career goals. Though some employers might prefer project managers with certification, there are many opportunities that don’t require them.

There is evidence that correlates certain PMI certifications to monetary benefit. The PMP, for example, has been linked to higher incomes—a 2018 PMI survey found that PMP certified members in the US reported a median salary of $115,000, compared to $92,000 for those without the PMP [2].

How do I get a PMI certification?

1. Meet the requirements. Each PMI certification has a different set of requirements you’ll have to meet in order to test for the certification. Before you apply, you’ll want to make sure you have a record of any applicable project management experience.

2. Apply. Once you think you’re in good standing to qualify for an exam, you can make an account with PMI and apply for certification. If you’re approved, that’s when you’ll pay the exam fee and schedule an exam.

3. Take the exam. Certification exams generally take three to four hours and have some combination of multiple-choice, multiple-response, matching, hotspot, and fill-in-the-blank questions. Some advanced certifications may have a panel review as part of your certification process.

4. Maintain your certification. Each PMI certification is valid for three years. In that time, you’ll need to earn a set amount of PDUs—professional development units—to maintain your certification. PDUs are hours you spend either learning, teaching, or volunteering in your project management certification area (so 30 PDUs will translate to 30 hours of your time). The number of PDUs necessary to keep your certification will depend on the certification.

Get started in project management

Equipping yourself with project management skills can make you a competitive candidate for jobs and a successful leader in the workplace. If you’re just starting out in your project management journey, take a look at the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate—the first week is free.

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Article sources

1. Project Management Institute. "Talent Gap: Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs, and Global Implications, https://www.pmi.org/learning/careers/talent-gap-2021." Accessed December 6, 2021.

2. Project Management Institute. "PMI Salary Survey Reveals That Project Management Professionals with the PMP Certification Earn 23% More, https://www.pmi.org/about/press-media/press-releases/pmi-salary-survey-reveals-pmps-earn-23-percent-more." Accessed December 6, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 6, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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