CAPM vs PMP Certification

CAPM vs PMP Certification: Which Is The Best Certification For Project Managers

A project management certification is important as it recognises that you have the requisite knowledge of best practices of project management.

Both PMP and CAPM are two very popular certifications offered by the Project Management Institute (pmi.org), a global advocate for the project management profession.

  • CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management – for the Project Manager with less than 3yrs experience or new to formal project management.
  • PMP – Project Management Professional – for the experienced Project Manager. The most sought-after certification in project management.

Both certifications are valid for 3 years, which you then renew by remaining current (being actively involved in the profession and upskilling along the way).

Largely based on the contents of The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). The PMBOK guide is an international standard of best practices of project management. Basically, and encyclopaedia of Project Management. It teaches you all the important aspects that all Project Managers should know in order to do their job. It is a framework. Much like a toolbox. You take what your need and use it in a way that adds value to your projects.

How do CAPM and PMP exams differ?

The key differences between the CAPM and PMP exams are:

CAPM PMP
More suited to beginners who want to get into project management.

A stepping stone for those new or within their first 3 years of Project Management.

Less complicated, but is based on the same framework as PMP.

The questions in the exam are easier than PMP.

For the experienced Project Manager who will need to understand the latest theory. It is more complex.

More complicated than CAPM.

PMP questions can be more situational-based.

Study could take anywhere from 4-8 hours between each training session whether you do CAPM or PMP.  However, it is likely that for PMP your total time investment will be around 45 hours of study, whereas for CAPM this is likely to be between 30 and 45 hours.

Exam Prerequisites: PMP vs CAPM

Both PMP and CAPM have eligibility requirements as detailed below:

CAPM Prerequisite

To apply for the CAPM® exam, you need to fulfil the following prerequisites:

  • A secondary degree, such as a high school diploma or associate degree
  • 23 hours of formal project management education

PMP Prerequisite

To apply for the PMP® exam, you need to fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • At least NZ NCEA Level 3 / 7th Form Certificate / University Entrance (or the global equivalent), and
  • 60 months leading projects*, and
  • 35 hours of formal project management education/training or CAPM® Certification by the time you submit your exam application (you will receive these 35 hours by completing our training course)

     OR

  • A Bachelor’s or four-year degree, and
  • 36 months leading projects*, and
  • 35 hours of formal project management education/training or CAPM® Certification by the time you submit your exam application (you will receive these 35 hours by completing our training course)

What are the requirements to obtain a PMP Certification?

This certification recognises a project manager’s proven skills that aid in successfully managing projects of all sizes. PMP covers a wide range of project management techniques and competencies that are ‘generally accepted’ best practices. With the PMBOK toolbox at their disposal, a certified PMP professional can adapt their skills to the situation at hand. 

 It showcases proficiency in the following:

  • People: having the skills lead a team effectively and motivate team members throughout a project
  • Process: Determining the appropriate method for a project; be it a predictive, agile, or hybrid approach
  • Business Environment: Showing how the success of a project can impact on overall strategic organisational goals

In an exam that was created by project leaders for project leaders, the questions can be related to real-life experiences in the industry.

A PMP certification is valid for 3 years. To renew the certification, you must remain current in the profession by being actively involved and continuing to upskill. This is achieved through Professional Development Units (PDUs).

How long do I have to sit the PMP® exam?

3hrs 50mins to answer 180 questions.

What is the pass rate?

PMI does not disclose the pass rate. You will not receive a score and you will not know which questions you answered correctly. Your result will be scored across a range from Needs Improvement, Below Target, Target, and Above Target.

What type of questions are in the PMP® exam?

There are three categories in the PMP® Exam – People 42%, Process 50%, and Business 8%. The PMP® exam is constructed from a bank of questions. Not everyone answers the same questions. Check out the PMP® Exam Content Outline available from pmi.org for more details. PMP® questions are scenario-based. They give you a brief description of the project state, and problem and require you to select the best answer to the question, which normally refers to a solution. Most will be multi-choice (single answer). Some will be multi-choice (multi-answer). Additionally, there can be hot spot, list, or explanation methods although these are rare. In PMP® exam questions, you’ll notice some or all the answers could solve the problem detailed in the question. You must select the most correct answer. This is difficult, but something we teach you during the course.

What are the requirements to obtain a CAPM Certification?

The content for the CAPM® course is delivered to flow through the natural lifecycle of a project focusing on key areas, artifacts, and phases. It begins with Foundation’s content, covering common project management terms and definitions. Throughout 35 hours of training, specific areas of delivering a project are unpacked, and practical uses and approaches are discussed along with a chance to reflect on examples delegates have experienced (both good and bad!). After each key topic, the trainer explains how this would be presented in the CAPM® exam and what extra study could/should be done.

The CAPM exam covers the following topics, which are referred to as ‘Domains’:

  • Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts
  • Predictive, Plan-Based Methodologies
  • Agile Frameworks/Methodologies
  • Business Analysis Frameworks

The requirements for CAPM certification are:

  • Some exposure or experience with some organisational change or event management
  • Interested in a career in project coordination or project management
  • Keen to expand skills in successfully delivering projects/change
  • Involved or leading projects but you do not yet meet the PMP exam pre-requisites

How long do I have to sit the CAPM® exam? 

3 hours to answer 150 questions.

What is the pass rate? 

PMI does not disclose the pass rate. You will not receive a score and you will not know which questions you answered correctly. Your result will be scored across a range from Needs Improvement, Below Target, Target, and Above Target.

What types of questions are in the CAPM® exam?

The CAPM® exam is constructed from a bank of questions and not everyone answers the same questions. Check out the CAPM® Exam Content Outline available from pmi.org for more details. The CAPM® exam tests your ability to recall information learned throughout the training. The exam isn’t difficult, but if you’re not familiar with PMI-specific language you could make mistakes.

Benefits: PMP vs CAPM

There are benefits of whether you sit the PMP or CAPM exam will depend on how much experience you have and at what stage of your career you are.

What are the benefits of CAPM certification?

  • Advance your career – Stand out from the crowd, and enhance your credibility, CAPM will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and best practice required for working in project management.
  • CAPM is Globally recognised. Join more than 50,000 certification holders worldwide.
  • CAPM can open new doors. Project management is a rapidly growing profession with research indicating employers will need to fill 2.2 million new project-orientated roles each year through to 2027.
  • Increased effectiveness working on, or with project teams.
  • The ability to manage larger projects and gain more responsibility.
  • The knowledge you gain from earning the CAPM® certification can be applied to future projects, you develop greater competence in the practice of project management.

What are the benefits of PMP certification

  • Gain a competitive edge. Prove you work smarter. 
  • PMP is Globally recognised and PMI’s flagship certification. Join more than 1 million project professionals worldwide. Certified PMPs report earning up to 25% more than non-certified project professionals.
  • Deliver results. Combining predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches, the PMP® proves successful leadership and expertise. It supercharges your ability to work smarter.
  • Increase your effectiveness working on, or with project teams.
  • The ability to manage larger projects and gain more responsibility.
  • The knowledge you gain from earning the PMP® certification can be applied to future projects, you develop greater competence in the practice of project management.

How Much Do the CAPM and PMP Exams Cost?

The costs of the CAPM and PMP exams are detailed below. 

Millpond is also able to offer a ‘PMI membership and exam bundle’.

Exam application, booking, and exam payment are the candidate’s responsibility and should be done directly with PMI.

There are authorized Testing Centre’s or delegates can choose online proctoring. It can be difficult to obtain appointment times, so we recommend that candidates begin this process early.

Optional but recommended: PMI Membership (US$139)

PMI membership gives access to a free PDF of the PMBOK® guide, discounted exam fees as above, and local benefits such as discounted access to Millpond’s training courses.

CAPM Exam Cost

CAPM US$225 (PMI member rates) or US$300 (non-PMI member rates)

PMI membership and exam bundle cost: NZ$630 + GST

PMP Exam Cost

PMP US$405 (PMI member rates) or PMP US$555 (non-PMI member rates)

PMI membership and exam bundle cost: NZ$950 + GST

Salary expectations: PMP vs CAPM

Scarcity in the number of people with the necessary project management certifications or experience means that now is a great time to upskill to meet the current demand for people skilled in project management. Below are some indicative salaries that you could earn as a CAPM or PMP certification holder.

How much is the average salary of a certified CAPM project manager?

The Average salary is NZD$100,000

How much is the average salary of a certified PMP project manager?

According to PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey, PMP-certified professionals earn 20% more than those without the certification.

The salary of a PMP holder will also largely depend on the level of experience as well. An individual with a PMP credential who has held it for 5 – 10 years earns an average base salary of NZD$120,000. A PMP credential holder with 10+ years of certification will earn approximately $150,000 on average.

Addressing Common Questions: CAPM vs PMP

Answers to frequently asked questions:

Which certification is better: CAPM or PMP?

  • If there is any doubt, then you could consider obtaining the CAPM® certification in the meantime while you work up to the 3yr requirement for PMP®. In our experience, achieving PMP® is easier following CAPM®, but we understand that it is then a two-step process in terms of both time and cost.

Which certification is harder to obtain?

  • The PMP exam is more difficult than CAPM.

Is PMP necessary if I already have CAPM?

  • No, the CAPM® is designed for people who do not have the required eligibility to sit the PMP®. If you meet the PMP® credential criteria, you should sit the PMP® exam as it proves you have project management experience as well as knowing the tools and techniques.
  • Earning your CAPM certification means automatically meeting the 35 hours of project management education and training required to sit for the PMP exam.

How do I determine which certification is right for me?

  • Check through the requirements and eligibility and if you are eligible for PMP, then we recommend you do PMP. If you are still not sure, check out our ‘Your journey to certification with Millpond’

What if I am not sure that I meet the eligibility for either CAPM or PMP?

  • The benefits of PMI membership can be found here, but in summary; PMI members get access to a free .pdf of the current PMBOK® Guide, many other standards and publications, including the Agile Practice Guide, plus discounted exam fees as above, and a 10% discount on Millpond’s PMI certification training courses.
  •  The pre-requisites are set by PMI rather than us, so while we can advise, you may find it easier to contact them directly to be 100% certain

How do I determine which certification is right for me?

  • Read through the eligibility and if there is any doubt, then you could consider obtaining the CAPM® certification in the meantime while you work up to the 3-year requirement for PMP®. In our experience, achieving PMP® is easier following CAPM®.

How do I apply for the PMP exam?

  • Once you’re ready to sit for the PMP exam, you must apply to do so through PMI. This process involves submitting a PDF application along with documentation to show relevant work experience. It typically takes three to five days to hear back from PMI regarding the status of your application.

How much will I need to study for the CAPM or PMP?

  • You will have study and exercises to complete between course days.
  • The amount will depend on your familiarity with the concepts, how recently you have been in an education setting, your learning style, and your other time commitments. Work set could take anywhere from 4-8 hours between each session.
    • The below is an indication of the expected workload for PMP®:
      • Contact hours (in-class/virtual): 35 hours
      • Non-contact hours (between sessions – pre-reading, self-study, etc.): 4 – 8 hours
      • Non-contact hours (study time – post-course, pre-exam): 15+ hours
      • In other words:
      • Total contact hours: 35
      • Total non-contact hours: 30 – 45
      • Total time investment: 65 – 95 hours of preparation

Do I have to study any course materials before attending CAPM or PMP training?

  • No, not before the course begins but you will need to during the course period. The course is presented at a fast pace, and we assume you are familiar with the basic concepts of project management, especially if you are aiming for the PMP® certification. Emerging project managers who are looking for the fundamentals, should first consider the 2-day Project Management Techniques course offered by Millpond.

What is the pass rate for CAPM and PMP?

  • PMI does not disclose the pass rate. You will not receive a score and you will not know which questions you answered correctly. Your result will be scored across a range from Needs Improvement, Below Target, Target, and Above Target.

What’s the difference between the PMBOK® Guide and PRINCE2®?

  • In short, the PMBOK® Guide contains many of the processes, tools, techniques, and templates from which you are encouraged to select those appropriate to your project. PRINCE2® is a specific methodology developed by the government in the UK for managing low-complexity IT projects. Both offer processes, but the PMBOK® Guide is a collection of experience-based knowledge, while PRINCE2® is a specific set of techniques. Where the PMBOK® Guide is informative, PRINCE2® is instructional. If the PMBOK® Guide is a toolbox, PRINCE2® is an assembly guide. Additionally, PRINCE2® is just one of many hundreds of off-the-shelf methodologies (others include Method123, UPMM, PRISM, Scrum, XP, etc.), available to an organization wishing to have an off-the-shelf solution rather than developing its own methodology. We strongly encourage developing your own appropriate project management methodology, which PMI-certificated training will help you to achieve.

Should I become a member of PMI?

  • It’s not required but we highly recommend it. There is a great exam fee discount for members. Additionally, you get a free PDF of the latest edition of the PMBOK® Guide, access to the PMI Marketplace, networking opportunities, templates, newsletters, and many other benefits. Make sure you join before paying the exam fee. Millpond also offers a discount on the PMP® exam preparation course for PMI members. Contact us to make use of this offer!

How Many Professional Development Units (PDUs’ Can I Claim from Undertaking CAPM or PMP Training?

  • 1 hour of formal training with Millpond is equivalent to 1 PDU.

Which Project Management Certification is Right for you? 

Depending on your eligibility and based on how new to project management you are, you should be able to choose which certification is right for you. In summary, CAPM is suited to those with little or no Project Management experience, whereas PMP is for the experienced project Manager.

If you are still unsure, check out the attached: ‘Your journey to certification with Millpond‘.

Not quite what you’re looking for?

Other blogs
of interest

  • 14 February 2024 |

    Paul Rogers

    This blog provides a summary of why staying updated with contract revisions is important, what NZS 3910 is, why the revision were needed, along with what the revisions mean to industry and the expected benefits the updates will bring.

    Read More
  • 9 February 2024 |

    Jan Harrison

    Many people assume that taking an exam in-person at a Testing Centre is the best way, but is it? This blog explores the advantages and disadvantages of taking your exam via online proctoring vs at a testing centre.

    Read More
  • 8 January 2024 |

    Jan Harrison

    Organisational change management (OCM) is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from their current state to a desired future state.

    Read More