Students who want to pursue a career in Project Management often do not know where to start. They often think that they must go for the PMP (Project Management Professional) which is perhaps the most sought after and well-known course offered by PMI (Project Management Institute).

However, PMI-PMP Certification is only for experienced candidates. To be eligible for this course, a candidate needs to have considerable experience in project management. Therefore, it is suitable for project managers.

On the other hand, a candidate need not have any prior experience in project management for obtaining the CAPM i.e. Certified Associate Project Manager Certification. Therefore, CAPM is the ideal course for candidates who want to start their career in project management.

However, one must understand the key differences between these two certification courses beforehand to avoid any confusion. Let us look at these differences:

Certification details: PMP v/s CAPM

CAPM is considered to be an associate-level certification whereas PMP is a higher-level certification for professionals. CAPM Certification is ideal for candidates who want to obtain a basic understanding of project management studies. Therefore, its exam is completely based on the concepts of PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge).

On the other hand, PMP tests an individual’s capacity to handle various situations based on project management skills, techniques, and tools.

Candidates appearing for a PMP Certification already have the knowledge and experience of managing and leading teams. The questions are not only asked from PMBOK but can also be referred from anywhere outside the PMBOK.

Therefore, there you cannot refer to any reading materials and books while studying for PMP. However, most of the questions are based on domains such as Planning, Executing, Initiating, Monitoring, etc.

Certification Exam: PMP v/s CAPM

PMP exam is much more difficult than the CAPM exam. Also, there is much difference between their exam formats as well. In PMP exam, 200 MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) is asked out of which 25 questions are non-scoring questions that are only asked for analysis purposes.

All the questions need to be answered within 4 hours. In the CAPM exam, 150 MCQ questions are asked and its time limit is 3 hours. Both of them are closed-book tests i.e. you cannot refer to any book while answering.

The PMP Exam fees are also much more than that of the CAPM Exam.

Prerequisites: PMP v/s CAPM

A secondary degree i.e. any associate’s degree or high school diploma with 5 years of experience in handling projects is required to apply for a PMP exam. Apart from that, the candidates need to have an experience of 7500 hours while leading projects and 35 contact hours of formal education in project management is also required.

A candidate who has completed a 4-year degree program needs to have just 3 years of experience and 4500 hours of the project leading experience to apply for a PMP Certification. However, the condition of 35 contact hours of formal project management studies remains constant.

These strict prerequisites aren’t there when it comes to CAPM Certification. A candidate who has a secondary-degrees such as an associate’s degree or high-school diploma can apply for this course without any prior experience in project handling.

They also need to complete 23 contact-hours of formal project management education or they can have an experience of 1500 hours of working on a project.

Benefits: PMP v/s CAPM

A candidate who is a certified PMP professional naturally has more opportunities in the project management field. Also, since PMP Certification validates your experience as a project manager, it provides more opportunities and much higher salary as compared to the candidates who have obtained CAPM Certification.

PMP ensures that you get highly paid for your services whereas CAPM only enables you to start your career in project management. Therefore, it is not fair to compare the salaries of their respective candidates.

While PMP sharpens your skills and knowledge as a project manager, CAPM makes you ready to be a part of a project. CAPM Certification holders might get to handle and lead small to medium-sized projects or they might be working under a project manager on relatively bigger projects.

How to choose between PMP and CAPM?

It is not hard to choose between these two certifications as the prerequisites define whether you are eligible for PMP or CAPM.

PMP Certification is accepted worldwide and enhances your authority over aspects like project management, handling, monitoring, etc. CAPM makes you fit to be a part of a project but you need not pursue PMP after that if you are not interested in becoming a project manager.

However, if you want to become a PMP professional then it CAPM Certification will provide the right push to your career. Therefore, most CAPM Certification holders go on to become PMP Professionals after gaining the relevant experience.