The Ultimate Guide to Project Management Certifications (Part 1): The PMI Certifications

The short answer: Yes. It’s never wrong to get an additional qualification. But there are so many different PM certifications out there that you can easily get confused or lose track of which certification is the right one for you and your specific circumstances. This is why we compiled a list of the most popular PM certificates and what you need to do to get one. 

You don’t need to be certified to be a project manager, but a growing number of employers require their project managers to have at least one project management certificate. Being certified signifies that you have the necessary experience and PM knowledge, and are also able to apply that knowledge to real scenarios. This evidence of PM expertise is also reflected in the salary. Certified project managers earn on average 20% more than non-certified ones, according to the Project Management Institute’s project management salary survey.

However, there are an increasing number of PM certifications. As getting certified is a time and money consuming endeavor you will want to choose the right one. The good news is that most certifications, even from different institutes, actually complement each other and sometimes it’s even advisable to get multiple certifications.

As there are so many different certifications out there, we split this into a two-part series. The first part concentrates on the project management certifications from the Project Management Institute.

Prerequisites

If you’re thinking about getting certified, you must be aware that most of them only accept applicants that fulfill certain requirements. Most certifications require at least a secondary degree and a certain number of years of experience in leading projects. You also need to attend a certain number of hours of project management education.  Higher level certifications could also require applicants to already have another certification to be eligible.

If you fulfill all prerequisites, you can apply for the certificate by sending in an application form, including your CV and a self-assessment. Most certifications verify the applicants’ project management knowledge via an exam and/or personal interview. This is the standard process, but different certifications and even different certification bodies will have their own requirements.

The PMI (Project Management Institute) Certifications

The Project Management Institute is one of the most important project management organizations in the United States, but is also respected worldwide with local and national branches in many countries. They offer credentials and certifications, but also established industry standards and frameworks for the project management profession.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP certificate is one of the most important certifications available for project managers, if not the most important. It is certainly a very popular certification among PMs because it’s accepted in any industry and country.

Who should get this certification?

This is an advanced certification that requires applicants to have at least 4,500 to 7,500 hours of experience of being responsible for every aspect of project delivery and leading project teams.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours of experience of leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education (where you can earn PDUs)

OR

  • Four-year degree (Bachelor’s degree)
  • 4,500 hours of leading projects
  • 35 hours or project management education

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $405.00
  • For non-members: $555.00

How to get certified?

  • Fulfill requirements
  • Take 4-hour exam (200 multiple-choice questions)

How to maintain the certified status?

You must earn at least 60 PDUs (professional development units) every three years. 

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Who should get this certification?

Anyone who would like to improve their project management skills and start to manage larger projects and take on more responsibility in projects.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 1,500 hours experience of working on projects

OR

23 hours of project management education completed by time of exam

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $225.00
  • For non-members: $300.00

How to get certified?

You have to take a 3-hour exam (150 multiple-choice question).

How to maintain the certified status?

Retake the exam every 5 years to maintain the CAPM certified status.

Program Management Professional (PgMP)

Who should get this certification?

For senior-level project managers who are leading multiple complex and cross-functional projects and teams.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 6,000 hours of project management experience
  • 10,500 hours of program management experience 

OR

  • Four-year degree (Bachelor’s degree)
  • 6,000 hours of project management experience
  • 6,000 hours of program management experience

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $800.00
  • For non-members: $1,000.00

How to get certified?

  • Panel review
  • Take 4-hour exam (170 multiple-choice questions)

How to maintain the certified status?

Maintain PgMP status by earning 60 PDUs every three years.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Who should get this certification?

For anyone who wants to gain recognition for their agile expertise, and who wants to work or is already working in an agile team or an organization that has adopted agile methodologies.

What are the requirements?

  • 2,000 hours of experience of working on project teams
  • 1,500 hours of working on agile project teams or experience in applying agile methods
  • 21 hours of agile education

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $435.00
  • For non-members: $495.00

How to get certified?

To get the PMI-ACP, you have to take a 3-hour exam (120 multiple-choice questions)

How to maintain the certified status?

You must earn at least 30 PDUs in agile topics every three years.

Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)

Who should get this certification?

For anyone who has advanced risk management expertise and experience, particularly project risk management, and is familiar with managing large and complex projects.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
  • 4,500 hours of project risk management experience
  • 40 hours of project risk management education

OR

  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 3,000 hours of project risk management experience
  • 30 hours of project risk management education

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $520.00
  • For non-members: $670.00

How to get certified?

You have to take a 3.5 hour exam (170 multiple-choice questions).

How to maintain the certified status?

Earn at least 30 PDUs in risk management topics every three years.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

Who should get this certification?

For anyone who has advanced expertise and experience in managing project schedules, including developing and maintaining them.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree
  • 5,000 hours project scheduling experience
  • 40 hours project scheduling education

OR

  • Four-year degree
  • 3,500 hours project scheduling experience
  • 30 hours project scheduling education

How much does it cost?

  • For PMI members: $520.00
  • For non-members: $670.00

How to get certified?

You have to take a 3.5 hour exam (170 multiple-choice questions).

How to maintain the certified status?

To maintain your PMI-SP status, you have to earn at least 30 PDUs in project scheduling topics every three years.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)

Who should get this certification?

For executive or senior level project managers who have advanced project portfolio management knowledge and skills and who have experience in managing project portfolios that align with the organization’s strategic goals.

What are the requirements?

  • Minimum of eight years of professional business experience
  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 10,500 hours of portfolio management experience

OR

  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree)
  • 6,000 hours of portfolio management experience

How much does it cost?

For PMI Members:  $800.00
For non-members:  $1,000.00

How to get certified?

  • Panel review
  • 4 hour exam (170 multiple-choice questions)

How to maintain the certified status?

Earn at least 60 PDUs in portfolio management topics every three years.

PMI Professional in Business Analytics (PMI-PBA)

Who should get this certification?

For project or program managers that have to perform business analysis and have experience in requirements management.

What are the requirements?

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours of business analysis experience
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams
  • 35 hours of education in business analysis

OR

  • Four-year degree (Bachelor’s degree)
  • 4,500 hours of business analysis experience
  • 2,000 hours working on project teams
  • 35 hours of education in business analysis

How much does it cost?

For PMI members: $405.00
For non-members:  $555.00

How to get certified?

You have to take a 4-hour exam (200 multiple-choice questions).

How to maintain the certified status?

To maintain your certified status, you have to earn at least 60 PDUs in business analysis topics every three years.

Stay tuned for the second part of our project management certifications guide. To bridge the waiting time, we’ve created an infographic summary of all the certifications: 

The Ultimate Guide to Project Management Certifications

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