What Is CAPM Certification? Criteria and Prospects

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

CAPM Certification is an entry level project manager certification that can help you move into project manager roles. Find out more about it in this guide by Coursera.

[Featured image] Project manager studying for CAPM certification

The Certified Associate in Project Management certification was created to help those beginning a career in project management. It can be your first step on the career path as a project manager.

What exactly is CAPM certification?

CAPM is administered by the Project Management Institute, which is a globally recognised organisation and leader in project management qualifications. The Certified Associate in Project Management credential helps to prepare junior level project managers for the complexity of project lifecycles and project methodologies. This certification is often completed by entry-level project managers, students, and members of project teams looking for career advancement.

This certification can be a foundational course that can help you move towards project management professional (PMP) certification.

The cost of certification depends on whether you are a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) or not; for members the cost is around £170, and for nonmembers around £225.

The requirements of CAPM

To complete the course there are no entry requirements. However, to sit the examination you must first confirm eligibility with the Project Management Institute. The headlines for eligibility criteria are that you should have an undergraduate degree, ideally in a relevant  subject, and you should have a minimum of twenty-three hours of education on project management prior to sitting examination. Make sure you check with the PMI that you meet criteria before planning on completing this course.

If you want an easy way to fulfil the twenty-three hours of project management education then you might want to consider the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate. It provides all of the high-level, foundational knowledge that you need to begin studying more complex project management material.

More on CAPM certification fees

To become a member of PMI requires an application fee of around seven pounds and an annual fee of around £85. With the discount that you receive for completing CAPM certification as a member rather than a nonmember, membership ends up costing you about £40 in the first year. You get benefits from being a PMI member that may make joining worthwhile. You get the ability to download the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBoK) and are able to use a project management jobs board.

In some cases your employer may consider partially or fully funding your training costs and exam, so it might be worth speaking to human resources or to your line manager.

Is it worth taking the CAPM certification?

This certification is entry level for project managers. If you have moved past this stage in your career, then it may not be worth completing unless you want to do a recap and refresh. There may be more relevant UK qualifications as well, which we’ll look at shortly. Here are some other things that you might want to consider before opting for this certification.

Earning power and jobs after completing the CAPM.

The CAPM is unlikely to win you new job opportunities in project manager and programme manager roles. You need higher level qualifications to be able to compete for senior jobs in project management. However, this entry-level project management qualification might enable you to get jobs as a junior project manager, project coordinator, or in another role in the project management office.

Project managers are in high demand. With increasing speed of technological advancement, and new and emerging technologies changing the way businesses work, there are constantly project requirements to evolve and improve organisational processes, products, and systems.

Here is a look at some of the roles on the career path following completion of the CAPM certification, and what you are likely to earn on average.

Project Coordinator£31,742
Junior Project Manager£33,213
Project Analyst£34,038
Project Manager£53,496
Project Control Specialist£42,465

PMP versus CAPM versus Prince2

Another certification that's administered by the PMI is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. PMP is more of a professional credential rather than a lower, entry-level certification. The PMP certification tends to be more recognised in Australia, the Middle East, the USA, and Canada, rather than the United Kingdom. Prince2 is the equivalent project management qualification for project manager and Senior project management roles in the United Kingdom. The majority of job adverts on CWjobs, and other project management focused job sites, refer to Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner level certifications.

Should you get CAPM or Prince2 foundation?

If you're in the UK then you are generally better off taking a qualification that will be most recognised over here. CAPM is a good, affordable foundation level course. However, to build a career in project management in the UK you're probably going to want to do the Prince2 Practitioner course at some point. To be eligible for that course you need to have done the Foundation level course. If you're choosing between CAPM and Prince2 Foundation level, then it may make sense to go for Prince2.

If you want to complete a course in six months with about ten hours of study a week, then another good foundational course is the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate.

Training for the CAPM exam

When preparing for your examination you can either choose to enroll on a course or you can take a self-study approach.

If you choose to self study then you probably want to get hold of the latest copy of the PMBoK guide, which is available through the PMI website when you join up. The CAPM is based upon this guide.

Completing the project management basics course

The project management basics course is provided by the Project Management Institute and was created to help you to get ready for the CAPM exam. With online modules of twenty minutes, the bite-sized nature of the course makes it easy to digest. When you take this course you get a copy of the PMBoK guide, and the course costs about £300 for non-PMI members, and for members £265. 

More on the Google Project Management: Professional Certificate

This Google qualification is not recognised as an official CAPM preparation course, but provides you with a lot of information on project planning, project initiation, Agile, and Scrum, cost control and other project management fundamentals. The course provides you 100 hours of education in project management that counts towards both CAPM and other PMI certification eligibility criteria.

The CAPM examination

This three-hour examination includes 150 questions. 10 per cent of these questions are classified as "pre-test questions," and are there to look at questions that the test could utilise in the future. They are not part of the scoring for the examination. As we have seen, the exam is based on the PMBoK guide, which you will have studied thoroughly either on a self-study basis or through a course.

Topics on the exam are as follows:

  1. Foundations of Project Management

  2. Project Initiation: Starting A Successful Project

  3. Project Planning: Putting It All Together

  4. Project Execution: Running the Project

  5. Agile Project Management

  6. Capstone: Applying Project Management in the Real World

Getting going in project management

If you want to move into entry-level project manager roles then there are lots of qualifications that you can do. You may want to consider getting Agile qualifications, especially if you work in software development project management. Prince2 is certainly a route that's worth considering.

The Google Project Management: Professional Certificate, which we have mentioned severally in this guide, is a good foundational course to help you get your foot in the door in project management roles. It's accessible and can be completed alongside work without being overwhelming or taking up too much time. It’s also worth considering.

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