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When people consider project management certifications, they generally think of the PMP. This is easy to understand, given that it is, by far, the most popular (and oldest) PMI credential, with over 380,000 active PMPs as of May 2010.

However, the PMP isn’t necessarily the only option and sometimes may not be the best option. The CAPM (Certified Associate of Project Management), introduced in 2003, may be more appropriate for some candidates.

The CAPM has been slowly gaining recognition over the past seven years and can now be seen referenced in many job postings, etc, and there are now over 11,000 CAPMs worldwide.

Here is a comparison of the two credentials:

Credential Name Project Management Professional Certified Associate of Project Management
Introduced USA: 1984      International: 1998 2003
Knowledge base PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
…and further literature which contributes to the PMBOK®Guide
PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition
Project Role Leads and directs project teams Contributes to project team
Exam Questions 200 multiple choice
– 175 scored
– 25 pre-test
150 multiple choice
– 135 scored
– 15 pre-test
Exam Time 4 hours 3 hours
Eligibility Requirements High school diploma:
5 years / 7,500 hours of project management experience in the last 8 years


Bachelor’s degree:
3 years / 4,500 hours
35 hours of project management education

1,500 hours of project experience


23 hours of project management education

Exam Outline Mostly knowledge and situational questions pertaining to the 5 process groups in the PMBOK® Guide:

  • Initiating the Project (13%)
  • Planning the Project (24%)
  • Executing the Project (30%)
  • Monitoring and Controlling the Project (25%)
  • Closing the Project (8%)
Mostly learning the PMBOK® Guide Knowledge Areas
and Processes:

  • Chapter 1 – PMBOK Introduction (4%)
  • Chapter 2 – Project Life Cycle (4%)
  • Chapter 3 – Processes (11%)
  • Chapter 4 – Integration (11%)
  • Chapter 5 – Scope (11%)
  • Chapter 6 – Time (11%)
  • Chapter 7 – Cost (9%)
  • Chapter 8 – Quality (7%)
  • Chapter 9 – HR (7%)
  • Chapter 10 – Communications (7%)
  • Chapter 11 – Risk (11%)
  • Chapter 12 – Procurement (7%)
Fees PMI Member $405
Non-Member $555
PMI Member $225
Non-Member $300
Credential Maintainance 3 years; 60 PDUs 5 years; re-exam
Additional Info PMP Credential Overview

PMP Application Process

PMP Exam Prep Training Course


PMP Handbook

CAPM Certification Overview

CAPM Application Process

CAPM Exam Prep Training Course


CAPM Handbook


The CAPM is recommended for you if:

  • you are relatively new or interested in getting into project management
  • you do not actually “lead” project management activities
  • you have experienced significant test anxiety in the past
  • your past project management experience did not occur within the last eight years
  • you have difficulty with scenario-based (and often very confusing) questions
  • your employer is flexible regarding the type of credential you receive

Generally speaking, we always say “if you have the documented experience for a PMP, go for the PMP”, however, if any of the above scenarios sound more like you, then definitely give the CAPM some consideration.

And just remember, if ultimately you do not have the experience required for a PMP certification, there is another option: CAPM. Falsifying your PMP application is NOT acceptable!

As always, if you have any questions regarding the various PMI certifications, give us a shout! We’d be happy to help you!!

1 Comment

  1. Terry J on January 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Happy to report that I passed my CAPM yesterday! Hoping to get my PMP within the next year or so. Needed to get the CAPM under my belt to build my confidence. It’s been so many years since I’ve had to take exams. But with the CAPM, I feel better about taking the PMP! Thank you!! Terry

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