Which Project Management Certification Should I Pursue?
Earning a certification is a significant step in a project manager’s career. Business certifications can help you gain a competitive advantage in the workforce, deepen the breadth and depth of your industry knowledge and supplement your real-world experience in project management.
There are several industry-recognized certifications available, and each has a different niche in the market. One of the first questions that many business students ask is “which certification should I pursue?”
Let's break down what you need to know about three of the most sought-after business certifications:
Which organizations offer project management certifications?
There are two issuing organizations to consider. The first is the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is the international standard for project management knowledge, training and certification. For most project managers, the two most common certifications are the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP). Another issuing organization to consider is CompTIA. It is an industry leader in information technology-related certifications in the areas of computer hardware and software, networking and security.
What is the CAPM?
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is more suited for entry-level or less experienced managers. This certification is designed to demonstrate working knowledge of project management ability. It is often undertaken by individuals who have recently completed academic or training programs in project management, or employees who have recently begun to take on projects as a part of their daily responsibilities.
Many will choose this certification initially and then work on a more advanced certification in the future. In order to sit for the certification exam, applicants must have a secondary degree and 1,500 demonstrated hours of project experience, or they must have at least 25 hours of project management education (typically covered in a single one-semester college-level course).
What is the PMP?
The Project Management Professional (PMP) is the gold standard of professional project management. This certification demonstrates a detailed and practical knowledge of project management concepts as well as significant documented time working in the discipline. The PMP is often pursued by project managers with significant experience in the field; some may focus on this certification alone, while others were previous earners of the CAPM.
In order to sit for the certification exam, applicants must have a secondary degree, 35 hours of project management education (typically covered in a single one-semester college-level course) and 7,500 hours leading and directing projects. Alternately, applicants must have a four-year degree, 35 hours of project management education and 4,500 hours leading and directing projects.
What is the CompTIA Project+?
Projects are an important part of IT operations, and CompTIA now supports a certification that can aid technical teams in completing them successfully. The Project+ certification focuses on the fundamentals of project management and examines those knowledge areas from an IT standpoint.
While the certification exam focuses on IT projects and systems, exam takers do not need to be fluent in IT operations to be successful. Unlike the PMI exams, the CompTIA exam does not have specific prerequisites that applicants must meet before they can take the exam. However, CompTIA does suggest that exam takers have the equivalent of one year of project management experience or education before attempting the exam.
Determining which project management certification you should pursue depends largely on your current level of education and experience working as a project manager. Students with limited project management experience are more likely to choose the CAPM or Project+ certification, while more experienced project managers would pursue the PMP.