PMP vs CAPM: How is PMP Different from CAPM?


PMP vs CAPM: How is PMP Different from CAPM?

Both the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification Exam and the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) Certification Exam are created and administrated by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in recognition of the knowledge of the holders in the field of project management. This post will provide an overview of the differences and similarities between PMP® and CAPM® to help aspirants to decide which certification they would pursue.

What is CAPM®?

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) Certification Exam is introduced by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 2003 as an entry level certification for project management practitioners and students. The CAPM® Exam syllabus is largely based on the project management publication by PMI – A Guide of Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), currently in the 5th edition (published in January 2013).

The minimal requirements for a candidate to be eligible for the CAPM® Exam are:

A secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent)

AND

– At least 1,500 hours experience OR
– 23 hours of project management education

The CAPM® exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions to be answered in 3 hours. Candidates are required to pick a correct answer from among 4 choices for each question. The CAPM® exam is generally considered to be much less difficult than the PMP® exam. Candidates will be able to pass the CAPM® exam by studying the PMBOK® Guide only.

By taking and passing the CAPM® Certification exam, holders will be able to demonstration their dedication in the field of project management. They will also be able to “pre-study” for the PMP® exam as the PMP® exam is also partly based on the PMBOK® Guide.

The CAPM® exam costs $225 / $300 for PMI members / non-PMI members. The CAPM® Certification credential is valid for only 5 years and the only way to renew the CAPM® credential is to take the CAPM® exam again. There is no PDU requirements for CAPM® holders.

What is PMP®?

The Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification Exam is also administrated by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1984. The PMP® credential is a very popular for project managers and practitioners in the US (where PMP® originates) and the Asia. The PMP® Exam syllabus is based on the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition together with a list of project management skills and knowledge as outlined in the PMP® Examination Content Outline.

The minimal requirements for a candidate to be eligible for the PMP® Exam are:

For secondary degree holders:

  • Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education

For four year degree holders or above:

  • Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education

The PMP® Exam is generally considered as a difficult exam. It consists of 200 multiple choice questions to be answered in 4 hours. Candidates are required to pick a correct answer from among 4 choices for each question. Candidates will need to answer the questions based on the knowledge gained by studying the PMBOK® Guide as well as their professional experience.

PMP® Certification holders can demonstrate competence in leading and directing project teams to successfully carry out projects. Many jobs in the field of project management require the candidate to be PMP® Certification holders.

You can learn more about PMP® Certification Exam and my PMP® Exam experience here.

Comparison between CAPM® and PMP®

The table below provides a brief comparison between PMP® and CAPM®:

Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®)
Year of introduction 1984 2003
Official reference book A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 5th Edition published by PMI
Exam questions 200 multiple choice questions
(25 are pre-test questions)
150 multiple choice questions
(15 are pre-test questions)
Exam time 4 hours 3 hours
Eligibility requirements For secondary degree holders:

  • Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education

For four year degree holders or above:

  • Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
  • 35 contact hours of formal education
A secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent)AND

– At least 1,500 hours experience OR
– 23 hours of project management education

Exam fee (computer-based test)  $405 for PMI members
$555 for non-PMI members
$225 for PMI members
$300 for non-PMI members
Credential validity period 3 years 5 years
Re-certification Accumulate 60 PDUs and apply for re-certification Retake the CAPM® exam

The CAPM® Certification Exam is based on the knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide. Candidates will be able to pass the exam if they have studied the PMBOK® Guide well by learning all the fundamental knowledge, terminology and processes of effective project management as outlined in the PMBOK® Guide.

However, the PMP® Certification Exam experience based. In addition to the knowledge contained in the PMBOK® Guide, PMP® candidates will need to apply what they have learned in their working experience as project managers to ask the exam questions correctly. Many on the exam questions on the PMP® exam are situational. This means that the questions will ask the exam candidates what are the best courses of actions to do next when they encounter a certain situation.

PMI deliberately tries to distinguish between the two certifications – the CAPM® Certification exam for project management students or project management practitioners will little experience while the PMP® Certification exam is a professional examination aiming to act as a proof for the knowledge, skills as well as the experience for seasoned project managers (though PMI does not require the exam candidates to carry the project manager title in their daily work).

Which to get: CAPM® or PMP®?

Since the PMP® is a higher level and more prestige certification for project management practitioners, if one could meet the minimum requirements for the project management job experience as well as the project management education, it is generally highly advisable to take the PMP® Certification Exam instead of the CAPM® Certification Exam.

But if you lack the experience to be eligible for the CAPM® exam and / or confidence to pass the PMP® exam in first try and would like to earn some PMI exam experience, the CAPM® Certification Exam is a good choice.

Better still, the exam prep materials and resources for both CAPM® and PMP® can be the same. That means, the exam prep books and courses you purchased can usually be used for both CAPM® and PMP® Certification exams (e.g. the PM PrepCast™ will qualify you for both CAPM® and PMP® exam by fulfilling the project management education requirements — the Contact Hours Requirements)!

If I am yet to qualify for the PMP® Exam, is CAPM® worthwhile to try?

Sure, by preparing and taking the CAPM® Certification Exam, CAPM® Aspirants will have an edge to passing the PMP® Certification Exam by:

  • having already read and understood the PMBOK® Guide
  • having the experience of taking PMI Exams (which is very useful for psychological preparation for the PMP® Exam) — be familiar with the exam format and requirements
  • having tried various CAPM® and PMP® Exam prep resources
  • having gathered enough Contact Hours for PMP® Application (if having taken the PM PrepCast™ online PMP® / CAPM® Exam Prep Course)

Recommended CAPM® and PMP® Exam Prep Resources

CAPM® Certification

PMP® Certification

 

Wish you PMP® and CAPM® Success!

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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1 Response

  1. Hi Edward,

    Your Free PMP notes and this site is a very good effort from you for everyone who is trying to be PMP and looking for FREE help.

    I just wanted to correct 1 information on your main “My PMP Exam Sharing” page under the tile “How I Got PMP Certified” on point 1 you wrote “- CAPM, which is another entry level project management certification offered by PMI, does not require experience.” So the part mentioning “does not require experience” is incorrect 🙂

    The rest is a wondeful effort by you (Thumbs up), keep the good work going.