CAPM vs PMP: Which One Is The Best Certification For You?

capm vs pmp certification

CAPM vs PMP is like comparing apples to oranges. These are two different certifications. There are some similarities but mostly they are dissimilar.

Should you compare apples to oranges? It seems inappropriate as they are distinct fruits. But sometimes it becomes necessary to contrast them.

Everyone has different motivation and priorities. So, it is better to understand the difference between CAPM and PMP certification before opting for one.

PMI has created CAPM and PMP credential for two separate set of audiences. The exam curriculum is similar for both the tests but the eligibility criteria is entirely different.

Let’s take a detailed view of similarities and differences.

CAPM vs PMP

Target Audience and Eligibility Requirements

CAPM is an entry level exam for budding project managers. It can be taken by professionals having secondary diploma (or global equivalent) even if they do not have any formal job experience. You can check my other post for complete details about CAPM eligibility requirements.

PMP is meant for experienced project managers. It can be taken by professionals having at least a few years of formal project management experience. You can check my other post for complete details about PMP eligibility requirements.

Exam Fee

There is a substantial difference in the exam fee. PMI charges $300 and $555 for CAPM and PMP respectively. PMI members get some discount on this fee. I have written 2 other articles to provide details about cost of CAPM and cost of PMP. You can refer to them for complete details.

Exam Curriculum

Both CAPM and PMP exams are based on PMBOK Guide’s content. However, there is some difference in their approach.

PMBOK Guide is the standard for project management. It is published by PMI. It divides the whole project management in 10 Knowledge Areas (KA) and 5 Process Groups (PG).

CAPM is entirely based on the content of the PMBOK Guide. The questions come directly from the Project Management (PM) concepts discussed in the guide. The test is based on 10 KA and other PMBOK Guide chapters. The following figure provides information on the percentage of questions coming from the each chapter of the PMBOK Guide.

capm content outline

PMP mostly follows the content of the PMBOK Guide. But, it also tests a few other concepts that are not covered in the Guide. It is based on the Role of Project Manager as described in the Exam Content Outline.

PMP is one of the toughest exams. It tests the candidate on the application of PM knowledge. Most of the questions are situational and tricky. The test is based on 5 PG. The following figure provides information on the percentage of questions coming from each PG.

pmp content outline

Exam Pattern

Both CAPM and PMP tests comes as Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ).

CAPM is a 3 hours exam with 150 MCQ. Out of these there are 15 pre-test questions.

PMP is a 4 hours exam with 200 MCQ. Out of these there are 25 pre-test questions.

Difference Between CAPM And PMP Certification

CAPMPMP
Stands ForCertified Associate In Project ManagementProject Management Professional
ForEntry level professionals looking for a career in project management.Experienced project managers.
EligibilityA secondary diploma
AND
( 1500 hours of professional experience in PM
OR
23 hours of formal PM education. )
( A secondary degree with 7500 hours of PM experience
OR
A four-year degree with 4500 hours of PM experience )
AND
35 hours of formal PM education.
Fee
  • $225 for PMI members
  • $300 for non-members
  • $405 for PMI members
  • $555 for non-members
Exam Duration3 hours4 hours
No. of Questions150200
No. of Pre-test Questions1525
BasisKnowledge Area basedProcess Group based
Type of QuestionsDirect – From the PMBOK Guide concepts.Situational – Application of the PMBOK Guide concepts.
Validity5 years3 years

Final Thoughts – Which Is The Best Certification For You?

You would have noticed that one certification is not necessarily better than the other. PMI has created them for different audience.

CAPM caters to entry level professionals who want to pursue a career in project management whereas PMP is oriented towards experienced project managers who want to enhance their knowledge, skills, and reputation.

You should opt for PMP if you are eligible for it. Otherwise you should take the CAPM exam. If you are contemplating on PMP but are not eligible for it, you should go for the CAPM first. It will give you immediate career benefits and prepare you partially for the PMP exam.

Over To You

Which certification are you planning to pursue?

Are you eligible for the PMP credential? If not, are you contemplating of doing CAPM?

Please leave a comment.

Praveen Malik, PMP

​Praveen Malik ​is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 23+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor, Coach and ​Advisor. He ​has successfully trained thousands of aspirants for the PM certification exams.

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B.santhana krishnan Reply

Nice article very clearly explained

    Praveen Malik, PMP Reply

    Thanks.

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