PMP® vs CAPM® Certification: Which is Best for Your Next Career Move?

Explore our comparison of the PMP® vs. CAPM® certifications and discover which you should earn as you take the next step in your project management career.

Written by Project Management Institute • 28 May 2024


When it comes to the world of project management, your success hinges on cultivating the skills and experiences necessary to keep you at the forefront of this ever-changing profession. So, pursuing certifications like the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or the Project Management Professional (PMP)® can be a game-changer for you. Entrepreneur recently named both the CAPM and PMP as top in-demand certifications.

A PMI certification is more than a credential—it's a signal that you have the commitment and expertise to deliver value on projects. The best part is that the CAPM and PMP certifications are tailored to professionals at different stages of their project management journey, so understanding the key differences between the certifications can help you pick the right certification for where you’re at in your career.

What is the CAPM certification?

The CAPM is a widely recognized certification that shows you have foundational knowledge of project management. This certification is a great fit for professionals with less than three years of project experience or for anyone who wants to boost their skills and confidence in leading projects.

What is the PMP certification?

The PMP validates your knowledge, skills, and experience as a project manager. Applicants must document that they have spent at least 3 to 5 years leading and directing projects. Earning this certification demonstrates your project leadership skills and ability to apply practical tools and techniques in various project environments, including predictive, agile, and hybrid scenarios.

CAPM vs. PMP Certification


What it is

Verifies your understanding of the processes, terminology and best practices in project management.

Validates your ability to lead projects and direct project teams.


  • Distinguish yourself from other candidates
  • Build on existing skillsets to accelerate your career
  • Automatically meet the 35 hours of project management education to sit for the PMP exam

  • Qualify for advanced roles that require a PMP certification
  • Demonstrate you're best-in- industry with the skills and experience to lead, direct and deliver value on projects
  • Opportunity to earn a higher salary

Education & Experience Prerequisites

  • High school diploma, GED or global equivalent
  • At least 23 contact hours of project management education

  • College/University Degree
  • 35 hours of project management education or CAPM certification
  • 36 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years

  • OR

  • High School/Secondary School Diploma
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM certification
  • 60 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years

Application Process

Simply document your educational background and hours of required project management education.

Document your educational background, hours of experience leading and directing projects, along with a brief project description.

Exam Details

150-questions across four domains of (1) project management fundamentals and core concepts, (2) predictive, plan-based methodologies, (3) agile frameworks/methodologies, and (4) business analysis frameworks

180 questions across three domains of (1) people, (2) process, and (3) business environment. About half of questions represent predictive project management approaches and half represent agile or hybrid approaches

Certification Renewal

15 PDUs per three-year cycle

60 PDUs needed per three-year cycle

Which Project Management Certification is Best for You?

Project management is consistently recognized as a top, in-demand job skill and, according to research, the global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030. To close the talent gap, 2.3 million people will need to enter project management oriented-employment each year just to keep up with demand.

Which certification you choose to pursue will ultimately depend on your current level of project management knowledge, experience, and the trajectory of your career.

Getting CAPM certified means you will differentiate yourself when applying for a variety of roles within the profession, while also preparing yourself for pursuit of more advanced certifications, like the PMP. The CAPM is also a great choice for mid-career professionals who wish to expand and formalize their knowledge of project management.

And getting PMP certified demonstrates that you are among the best in your industry and validates your professional skills, experience, and ability to lead, direct, and deliver value on projects. Bonus: Our Earning Power report found that respondents with a PMP certification report higher median salaries than those without PMP certification — 33% higher on average across the 21 countries surveyed.

Start elevating your career with the globally recognized PMP, or kickstart your journey with the CAPM.

Explore Certifications

You Might Also Like…

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)®—Demonstrate your ability to lead projects with this globally recognized certification ǀ Explore
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®: —Start your project management career ǀ Learn More
  • Talent Gap— Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs, and Global Implications | Read
  • Projectified— Advice on Starting Your Project Management Career | Listen



Project Management Institute
Author | PMI

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