What is the CAPM Certification? Requirements and More

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 9, 2021

The CAPM—or Certified Associate in Project Management—certification is designed to help candidates learn the skills necessary for entry-level project management positions. It can be the first stepping stone to a career in the field.

Career switcher considers getting the CAPM

What is the CAPM certification? 

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification is a credential designed to prepare candidates for entry-level project management positions. It is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a leading worldwide organization in project management. It costs $225 PMI members to take and $300 for non-PMI members, and can be used as a stepping stone to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification.

CAPM requirements

You’ll need to have the following in order to sit for the CAPM exam:

  • Secondary degree, defined as a high school diploma, GED, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent

  • 23 hours of project management education, completed before the time of the exam.

How can I fulfill my 23 hours of project management education?

There are several project management courses you can take, both online and in-person, that will fulfill this requirement, like the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate. You can also look for courses at your local community college.

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CAPM certification costs

The CAPM requires passing one exam. The exam is priced as follows, as of July 2021:

  • Non-PMI members: $300

  • PMI members: $225

Becoming a PMI member costs $129 a year, plus a one-time $10 application fee. This brings the total of becoming CAPM-certified as a new member to $364. Membership comes with perks such as a complimentary download of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide, and access to a project management job board.

If you’re a full-time student in an accredited, degree-granting program, you may also be eligible for the student bundle, which costs $257. This includes a membership fee of $32, plus the cost of the CAPM exam. You might also approach faculty members teaching project management courses at your school to see if they have bulk purchase agreements with PMI, which may save you further costs.

If you're employed and think the CAPM can be beneficial to your employer, you can consider approaching your manager to see if your organization will cover exam and training costs.

Is the CAPM worth it?

The CAPM  is generally considered an entry-level project management certification. So how do you know it’ll be worth the effort? Here are a few things to consider.

CAPM salary and jobs

The CAPM can prepare you for entry-level project management jobs such as project coordinator, junior project manager, and associate project manager.

Project management is an in-demand skill, and a growing career field. A report by Burning Glass Technologies found that there were over 280,000 entry-level project management positions posted over March 2019 to February 2020. The report also found that the number of these postings grew by 51 percent from 2017 to 2019 [1]. In a report published by the PMI in 2021, the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030 in order to keep up with demand [2].

According to Payscale, a Certified Associate in Project Management makes an average salary of $67,476 in the US as of July 2021 [3]. Below are some of the average salaries for positions that have listed the CAPM in calls for job applicants, collected from Payscale. Burning Glass Technologies found that workers who had project management skills made 21 percent more than workers who didn’t [4].

PositionSalary
Project coordinator$50,827
Junior project manager$51,341
Associate project manager$60,586
Project analyst$60,440
Project manager$74,997
Project control specialist$76,117

Read more: How to Become a Project Manager in 5 Steps

CAPM vs. PMP

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is also administered by the PMI. While the CAPM is generally seen as an entry-level certification, the PMP is considered a professional-level credential. The PMP is also far more popular than the CAPM, with over one million PMP holders worldwide [5]. 

Here’s a quick summary of their differences.

CAPMPMP
Who's it for?Entry-level project managersThose with at least three years of project management experience
Jobs postings that mention certification on Indeed (September 2021)1,18014,700
RequirementsSecondary degree, plus 23 hours of project management education35 hours of project management training (can be replaced with CAPM), and 36 months of experience leading projects with a four-year degree, or 60 months with a secondary degree
Average US salary (from Payscale, September 2021)$67,000$108,000
Cost$300 for non-PMI members, $224 for PMI members$555 for non-PMI members, $405 for PMI members
Exam3 hours, 150 questions3 hours 50 minutes, 180 questions

Should I get the CAPM or PMP?

As an entry-level certification, obtaining the CAPM certification can make sense if you have no or little experience with project management. It can be a good way to break into the field, or for you to take on more project management-oriented tasks in your workplace. Your decision should depend on what your individual goals are. It’ll also be good to know the costs of the exam, as well as your other options.

If you have at least three years of project management experience, it’ll be worth considering the PMP.

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Read more: 10 PMI Certifications to Level Up Your Project Management Career

CAPM training

To train for the CAPM exam, you can self-study, or enroll in a course. Here’s a quick look at two online training courses.

Project Management Basics

  • What you need to know: Project Management Basics is a course offered by the PMI designed to prepare you for the CAPM. Lessons are 20-minute online modules that are accessible in any order. The course is based on content in the PMI project management guide, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), and includes a free digital copy of the guide.

  • Price: $400 for non-PMI members, $350 for PMI members

Google Project Management: Professional Certificate

  • What you need to know: The Google Project Management: Professional Certificate includes six courses on various aspects of project management, including project initiation, project planning, and agile project management. Completing the coursework will also earn you a professional certificate, and qualifies you with over 100 hours of project management education that you can use toward requirements for PMI certifications, the CAPM included. The certificate is not an official CAPM training course.

  • Price: $39 a month subscription, with a free trial week (subject to change).

Opting to self-study?

You’ll want to at least get a copy of the most recent PMBOK Guide, which the CAPM is based on. You can also start getting acquainted with the contents and structure of the exam through the PMI’s CAPM handbook.

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The CAPM exam

The CAPM exam contains 150 questions, and you’ll have three hours to complete it. 

Of these questions, fifteen are “pretest questions.” These are used by the PMI as a way to test future examination questions, appear randomly throughout the test, and are not counted in your score. The CAPM exam is based on the contents of the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide.

The breakdown of exam topics across the thirteen chapters of the PMBOK Guide are as follows:

  1. Introduction to Project Management: 6%

  2. Project Environment: 6%

  3. Role of the Project Manager: 7%

  4. Project Integration: 9%

  5. Project Scope: 9%

  6. Project Schedule: 9%

  7. Project Cost: 8%

  8. Project Quality: 7%

  9. Project Resource: 8%

  10. Project Communication: 10%

  11. Project Risk: 8%

  12. Project Procurement: 4%

  13. Project Stakeholder: 9%

Getting started

As an entry-level project management certification, the CAPM can be a great way to build up needed skills to get your foot in the door to the project management world. If you’re ready to get started, consider checking out the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate—the first week is free.

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Article sources

1. Burning Glass Technologies. "After the Storm: The Jobs and Skills that will Drive the Post-Pandemic Recovery, https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/after-storm-recovery-jobs/." Accessed July 7, 2021.

2. Project Management Institute. "Talent Gap: Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs, and Global Implications, https://www.pmi.org/learning/careers/talent-gap-2021." Accessed July 7, 2021.

3. Payscale. "Salary for Certification: Certified Associate in Project Management, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Certified_Associate_in_Project_Management_(CAPM)/Salary?loggedIn." Accessed July 7, 2021.

4. Burning Glass Technologies. "The Hybrid Job Economy, https://www.burning-glass.com/research-project/hybrid-jobs/." Accessed July 7, 2021.

5. Project Management Institute. "Project Management Professional (PMP), https://www.pmi.org/certifications/project-management-pmp." Accessed July 7, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Sep 9, 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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