The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® and the Project Management Professional (PMP)® are two certifications administered by a professional project management organization called the Project Management Institute (PMI). The CAPM is an entry-level certification designed to prepare candidates for positions in project management, while the PMP is a credential for project managers with at least three years of experience.
Here’s a quick overview of how they compare.
|Who's it for?||Entry-level project managers||Those with at least three years of project management experience|
|Jobs postings that mention certification on Indeed (October 2022)||1,738||34,231|
|Requirements||Secondary degree, plus 23 hours of project management education||35 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, October 2022)||$68,000||$111,000|
|Cost||$300 for non-PMI members, $225 for PMI members||$555 for non-PMI members, $405 for PMI members|
|Exam||3 hours, 150 questions||3 hours 50 minutes, 180 questions|
Let’s take a look at the requirements, costs, and other details of each.
The requirements to qualify for the CAPM are as follows:
23 hours of project management education, completed before you take the exam
High school diploma or equivalent
The requirements to qualify for the PMP are:
35 hours of project management education. This can be waived if you have the CAPM certification.
36 months (3 years total) of experience leading projects if you have a four-year degree, or 60 months (5 years total) if you have a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, or the global equivalent
You’ll need to pay for and pass a certification exam to receive each certification.
There are several online courses from various providers that can fulfill the education requirement. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate, which qualifies you for over 100 hours of project management education. If you prefer in-person options, your local community college may have some project management courses that will fulfill the requirement.
Read more: How to Get a PMP Certification: An Overview
The PMP certification exam costs more than the CAPM certification. The PMP costs $555 for non-PMI members, and the CAPM $300 for non-members. Here’s a breakdown of their costs.
Note that a PMI membership costs $129 a year, plus a one-time application fee of $10.
$225 for PMI members ($364 total with membership and membership application fee)
$300 for non-PMI members
Are you a student? Get the student bundle
If you’re enrolled in an accredited, degree-granting program, you may be eligible for the student bundle. This gets you PMI membership for $32 and the CAPM exam certification for $225, for a total of $257.
$405 for PMI members ($544 total with membership and membership application fee)
$555 for non-PMI members
PMP holders generally make more than CAPM holders.
As of July 2022, the average US salary for CAPM holders is $67,000, while for PMP holders it is $111,000, according to Payscale [1,2]. Ziprecruiter reported higher averages, with CAPM holders having an average US salary of $91,735, and PMP holders making $115,898 [3,4].
Fifty-seven percent of respondents to an Indeed survey reported making more money after earning the CAPM . For PMP holders, that number increased to 68 percent . Certifications may lead to higher-paying jobs or raises in your current one. If you recently got certified, it can be worth approaching your manager to discuss a raise. Other factors like experience and location can affect your salary.
Certifications may give you an edge in the job search process, show hiring managers that you have a baseline of knowledge expected of you, and help you learn new skills. They may also lead to higher incomes, and qualify you for positions that require certification. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
The CAPM and PMP both have high approval ratings by certificate earners. Both were recommended by around 95 percent of Indeed survey respondents who had earned the certification. Indeed surveys also showed that 50 percent of CAPM earners believed the certification helped them get a job, while 64 percent of PMP earners thought the same [5,6].
The PMP is more in-demand than the CAPM. The CAPM was mentioned in 1,943 US job listings on Indeed in July 2022, while the PMP was mentioned in 42,240.
Think about your professional goals to decide if it’s worth it for you.
The CAPM and PMP serve different purposes; which you decide to get should depend on your professional circumstances.
If you’re looking to get started in the field of project management, the CAPM may be more useful (and manageable) than the PMP. If you have some experience, and are looking to expand your skill set and be more competitive in the job market, the PMP might make more sense to get.
The CAPM and PMP exams differ in content and difficulty. The CAPM is a knowledge-based exam, testing candidates on project management theory and processes. The PMP extends into the practical application of project management, including tools and techniques . The CAPM sticks to material in the PMBOK Guide, while the PMP tests you on knowledge beyond.
The CAPM tests you on concepts covered in the PMBOK Guide. Here’s a breakdown of what percentage of each chapter is covered in the exam:
Introduction to Project Management: 6%
Project Environment: 6%
Role of the Project Manager: 7%
Project Integration: 9%
Project Scope: 9%
Project Schedule: 9%
Project Cost: 8%
Project Quality: 7%
Project Resource: 8%
Project Communication: 10%
Project Risk: 8%
Project Procurement: 4%
Project Stakeholder: 9%
The PMP exam covers material in the PMBOK Guide and beyond. The topics covered broadly break down as follows:
1. People: 42%
The people portion includes questions on managing conflict, leading a team, assisting team performance, negotiating project agreements, supporting virtual teams, and other people-related topics.
2. Process: 50%
The process part of the exam covers the tactics used to execute a project. That includes managing communications, assessing risks, engaging stakeholders, planning budgets and schedules, quality management, determining scope, and several other topics.
3. Business: 8%
For the business portion of the exam, you’ll have to learn concepts in planning and managing project compliance, evaluating project benefits and value, addressing external factors for their impact on project scope, and supporting organizational change.
The PMP exam was updated beginning January 2, 2021. The new exam now comprises 180 questions instead of 200, two 10-minute breaks instead of one, three “domains”—phases of project management—instead of five, among other changes. Make sure your study materials reflect the change.
There are many courses you can take to learn concepts tested on the CAPM and the PMP. Here are a few options.
The Google Project Management: Professional Certificate covers essential project concepts. Accessible for anybody regardless of experience, the certificate was designed to be completed in six months or less. Though not an official CAPM training course, the certificate covers essential topics covered in the CAPM exam. You can gain job-ready skills, and fulfill the project management education requirement. You’ll also receive a professional certificate upon completion that you can add to your resume.
Start your path to a career in project management. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than six months. No degree or experience is required.
956,160 already enrolled
Average time: 6 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Organizational Culture, Career Development, Strategic Thinking, Change Management, Project Management, Stakeholder Management, Business Writing, Project Charter, Project Planning, Risk Management, Task Estimation, Procurement, Quality Management, Project Execution, Coaching, Influencing, Agile Management, Problem Solving, Scrum, Effective Communication
The Project Management Professional Certificate from the University of California, Irvine includes four courses on project management that can be completed in six months. The certificate is designed for professionals with three to five years of experience and will help you prepare for the PMP exam. It’ll also fulfill the educational requirement for the exam.
1. Payscale. "Salary for Certification: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Certified_Associate_in_Project_Management_(CAPM)/Salary." Accessed July 7, 2022.
2. Payscale. "Salary for Certification: Project Management Professional (PMP), https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Project_Management_Professional_(PMP)/Salary." Accessed July 7, 2022.
3. Ziprecruiter. "CAPM Salary, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/CAPM-Salary." Accessed July 7, 2022.
4. Ziprecruiter. "PMP Project Manager Salary, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Pmp-Project-Manager-Salary." Accessed July 7, 2022.
5. Indeed. "Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), https://www.indeed.com/certifications/view/certified-associate-in-project-management-capm-7BCTW3NJ." Accessed July 7, 2022.
6. Indeed. "Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, https://www.indeed.com/certifications/view/pmp-TK44RD4O." Accessed July 7, 2022.
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.