Which is better: CAPM or PMP?

By Simpliaxis


Project Management is a field that has gained a lot of traction in recent years and the popularity is still rising. Project Management is defined by the Project Management Institute as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Planning, motivating, organizations, and controlling resources, protocols, and procedures are involved in this field.’

Project Management attracts many individuals because it offers a very lucrative salary and exciting work getting a chance to serve in various industries which is why many Project Managers get professional certifications to advance their career in this field.

The Project Management Institute offers an array of certifications on various levels to offer eligibility to people who want to make a career in the field of Project Management. They offer professional certifications like CAMP®, PMP®, PgMP®, PMI-ACP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-PBA®, PMI-SP®, PgMP®, PfMP®, and OPM3®.

For now, we will focus on CAPM and PMP and understand the difference, features, and benefits of both CAPM and PMP. Individuals often face confusion in which they should opt for. Read ahead to know which will suit you better for your career.

What is CAPM?

CAPM also called the Certified Associate Project Management is an entry-level certification. CAPM certification is a basic level course in Project Management and is apt for you if you are just starting your career in Project Management. It distinguishes you from your competitors and professionals take this course to improve their credibility while they are working in some project team.

What is PMP?

PMP also called the Project Management Professional is an industry-recognized course that offers a much broader spectrum of Project Management techniques and subjects that increases the earnings of a Project Manager. Taking up this certification enables you to work in many industries and apply more advanced methodologies.
Now that you are clear about CAPM and PMP is let’s compare them in detail and who stands tall in CAPM vs PMP!


What do the CAPM and PMP entail?

As a whole, CAPM and PMP are based on PMBOK, Project Management Body of Knowledge. Just a little background on PMBOK if you are not aware of it. It is a complete collection of best practices, terminologies, processes, and guidelines that are accepted as standards in the Project Management industry.

CAPM is more focused on understanding the concepts and principles. It is less focused on applied knowledge. But, it isn’t exactly easy. It is still one of the toughest professional exams and certifications out there which is more difficult than entry-level Project Management certifications. Understanding the content of the PMBOK becomes crucial and mastering it will go a long way as your perfect study guide.

On the other hand, PMP is considered a standard in Project Management certifications. It is also a very tough exam and largely focuses on mastering concepts, principles, and applied knowledge. While it is also based on PMBOK, it requires you to understand its content thoroughly.

CAPM and PMP Exams

  • Eligibility for CAPM: High – School Diploma or Associate’s degree or equivalent. 1500 project experience or 23 hours of education in Project Management.
  • CAPM Exam cost: $225 USD (PMI member) and $300 USD (non-PMI member)
  • The CAPM exam is computer-based and in the format of multiple choices. The exam is 4 hours long and contains 200 questions among which 25 are non-scoring questions.
  • CAPM recertification: The certificate stays valid for 5 years which means you need to retake it every 5 years.
  • Eligibility for PMP: High – School Diploma or Associate’s degree or equivalent. 7500 project experience or 35 hours of education in Project Management OR Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent 4-year degree). 4500 project experience and 35 hours of education in Project Management.
  • PMP exam cost: $405 USD (PMI member) and $555 USD (non-PMI member)
  • The PMP exam is also a computer-based exam and is in the format of multiple choices. The exam is 3 hours long and contains 150 questions among which 15 are non-scoring questions.
  • PMP recertification and maintenance: You need to earn 60 PDU (professional development units) within 3 years.

CAPM and PMP: Differences

Now let’s focus on the difference between CAPM and PMP by comparing its scope, benefits, salaries, and real-life implications.

The scope of CAPM and PMP in real life

  1. Comparing what CAPM and PMP certifications will provide you in real life and understanding its scope is important to choose the aptest certification for you. If the certification doesn’t guarantee you a role that doesn’t meet your expectations, you might need to reconsider your choice of certification.
  2. With a CAPM certification, you will most likely start with entry-level job roles. With this, you will be qualified for positions such as Project Coordinator, Assistant Project Manager, and Junior Business Analyst.
  3. In these roles, you can apply your skills such as coordinating between teams, scheduling, and effective communication between teams. Although, you will not be able to head any teams on the basis of your CAPM certifications alone. CAPM is a perfect fit for you if you are new to the field of Project Management or have minimal experience.
  4. While a PMP certification will get you a full-time Project Management role such as Team Lead, Program Manager, Project Manager, and Project Controller. In these roles, you will be eligible to take responsibility for projects of any size and scope.
  5. With this certification, your employer or organization will imply that you are fit to handle a bigger project and apply your skills effectively to achieve the goals of the organization or the project.
  6. This is the major difference between CAPM and PMP based on the roles you get and the scope of your career. It is also worth noting that getting certifications is only one part of what qualifies you for a given role, albeit a major one. Things such as experience and performance are also considered along with many other variables depending on employers or organizations.

To put it simply:

  • CAPM will give you access to entry-level jobs and it is implied that you have an understanding of the concepts of Project Management principles.
  • PMP will give you access to higher-level jobs and it is implied that you are well versed in conceptual understanding and are able to effectively apply the knowledge you have learned.


There is no specific salary for CAPM certification vs PMP certification as it depends on various factors. Although, the salary is higher if you have a PMP certification compared to a CAPM certification which is obvious since PMP certification implies a higher experience and knowledge.

According to Payscale, the average salary for a PMP certification is $107,000 USD which may slightly vary according to the role you are offered. For a CAPM certification, your average salary is expected around $65,000 USD.

The final verdict: CAPM or PMP?

Now that you have understood the difference between CAPM and PMP, let’s answer the question “CAPM or PMP, which is better?”

The answer is…Both!

CAPM and PMP are both reputed certifications in the field of Project Management. While both will provide you with the credentials and increased authority in this field. For the question “which certification is suitable for me”, it depends. But, do not worry, here are few pointers that will help you make a final decision of which certification to choose.

Consider your experience in the field. Consider PMP if you have experience of at least 2 to 3 years in Project Management. PMP furthers your growth if you come with a considerable amount of experience.

How comfortable are you in applying conceptual principles or knowledge? If you are someone who still has a problem with the application, do not consider PMP certification.

Eligibility. Both the CAPM and PMP certifications have a clear guideline on the pre-requisites you need to have in order to be eligible in applying for the certification. (Read the exam info section above).

If you are beginning in the field of Project Management, consider gaining some more experience working, and do not worry about taking PMP. You can obtain CAPM and gain more experience and after a couple of years, get PMP certification.

Both CAPM and PMP add a substantial amount of weightage to your resume if you are pursuing a career in the field of Project Management. There is no one answer to ‘CAPM certification or PMP certification’. Although, PMP is a standard certification in the world of Project Management, do not be hasty and consider various things before going for it.

It’s actually quite simple. If you are starting out in this field or still in college, it makes more sense in pursuing CAPM certification and simultaneously getting more working experience. If you need to further your career after working in entry-level jobs for quite some time, it’s the best time to take up PMP certification.



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