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5 practical project management certifications

Moira Alexander | Oct. 14, 2015
As in most fields, pursuing a project management certification can be as murky as a bowl of alphabet soup. Here’s how to determine which PM certification offers you the knowledge needed for real-world application and promising job prospects.


  • Four-year degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

The cost to obtain the PMP credential is $405 for members and $555 for non-members.

The PMP is the most highly sought after project management credential (regardless of company size or industry), making the potential and career opportunities for someone with this certification almost limitless, and rather dependent on the work ethic and interest of the credential holder.

CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager)

PMI also offers the CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager) certification as an entry point in the field of project management. Having it demonstrates foundational and fundamental knowledge in the area of project management. The certification is suitable for those that do not yet have the required prerequisites for the PMP credential, yet want to enter the field at entry-level, and can serve as a stepping stone towards the PMP.

The CAPM allows employees or contractors to enter the field of project management at a more junior level, gain experience in general project management, or any of the 10 specific knowledge areas and work on developing project leadership skills. Knowledge and skill sets within this role can be applied in small, midmarket or large organizations with CAPMs leading smaller projects, or participating as team members in larger projects.

Opportunities for growth and development are abundant, and dependent more on available opportunities, interest and work ethic. Many organizations may offer the more senior PMPs the opportunity to mentor employees with CAPM certifications, with the goal of CAPMs expanding their responsibilities in the future and creating career advancement prospects. CAPMs can use this foundational credential to increase and solidify their project management experience and knowledge to meet the requirements for the PMP, and progress towards leading larger projects.

Prerequisites for the CAPM:

  • Secondary degree
  • 23 hours project management education without professional work experience


  • Secondary degree
  • 1,500 hours of project experience

The cost to obtain the CAPM credential is $225 for members and $300 for Non-members.

PMI also offers the following certifications:

  • PgMP (Program Management Professional)
  • PfMP (Portfolio Management Professional)
  • PMI-PBA (PMI Professional in Business Analysis)
  • MI-ACP (PMI Agile Certified Practitioner)
  • PMI-RMP (PMI Risk Management Professional)
  • PMI-SP (PMI Scheduling Professional) certifications

General PMI Membership is $129 to join (plus USD $10 application fee), USD $129 to renew as a professional; USD $32 to join and USD $32 to renew for students and USD $65 to renew for retirees.

CPM (Certified Project Manager)

The International Association of Project and Program Management (IAPPM) has been around since 2003 and is a global project management organization. IAPPM offers the Certified Project Manager credential (CPM) aimed at senior level, experienced project and program managers who already experienced in leading medium to large complex projects.  This certification is similar to PMI’s PMP and also has fairly stringent prerequisites to ensure applicants can demonstrate expert level Project management knowledge prior to writing the CPM examination.


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