PMP VS CAPM: What Sets Them Apart?

pmp and capm

Like many other project management credentials, PMP and CAPM can put you in a dense cloud of confusion. Both the credentials are famous and reliable. Some would think that Project Management Professional (PMP) is right for making a good career. While others will think that Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is easier to obtain. But the right confusion stays at place! To dissolve this confusion, we will provide you a detailed comparison of the two certifications. Moreover, we will provide you the factors that may help you think that the two credentials would be confusing.

Where do PMP and CAPM Stand United?

1. Vendor

Project Management Professional exam and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) are offered by Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is globally recognized organization that offers certifications, standards, and resources for project management professionals.

2. Exam Renewal Time

It is necessary to renew both credentials every three years. Your certificate will be canceled for a year if you are unable to successfully renew it within the given time frame. At this point, you must accrue PDUs and report them to PMI. Your certification will be withdrawn and you will have to retake the certification exam in order to get your credential back if you fail to submit PDUs during this period of suspension. In case you fail to turn in PDUs, your certification will expire.

3. Exam Retake

You are allowed to retake the PMP exam. There are 3 attempts allowed in a year. After three attempts, students have to wait for a year to take the next attempt. This waiting period is implemented to reduce overexposure to the exam.

Read more: Topmost Project Management Certification for Beginners

Where do PMP and CAPM Clash With Each Other?

1. Exam Details

The PMP (Project Management Professional) exam is a certification exam administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to assess the knowledge and skills of project managers. Passing the PMP exam demonstrates a candidate’s proficiency in project management principles, practices, and methodologies. The PMP exam has 180 exam questions with 5 pretest questions. The time for the exam is 230 minutes. The cost of the PMP exam for PMI member is $284 and for non-member is $555.

On the other hand, the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) exam is also administered by PMI but is designed for individuals who are new to project management or have limited experience in the field. CAPM exam is contains 150 exam questions with 15 pretest questions. The exam time 180 minutes. The cost of the CAPM exam for PMI member is $158 and for non-member is $210.

2. Targeted Audience

PMP and CAPM are both designed for the candidates who wish to make their career as project managers. These certifications offer a step-by step path for the students who wish to start right from the scratch and propel to the advanced skills. CAMP provides the basic learning skills for beginners while PMP offers advanced skills in project management.

3. Type of questions

The type of the questions in PMP and CAPM. The type of questions in the CAPM exam include multiple-choice questions, drag-and-drop-style questions, and animations/comic strips and the hot spot questions. 

PMP involves the situational, fill in the blank, formula based questions, hotspot, matching, multiple choice, multiple response, itto based, definition based and diagram based questions.

4. Eligibility Criteria

PMP Eligibility 

  • Option 1:

You must obtain Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent). With this, you must have a minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience. 

  • Option 2:

You must have four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent). Additionally, you must have a minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience.

  • Option 3:

You are required to have e Bachelor’s or post-graduate degree from a GAC accredited program (bachelor’s degree or master’s or global equivalent). Additionally, you must have a minimum two years/24 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience.

CAPM Eligibility

If you wish to take the CAPM exam, you must obtain a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, GED (general educational development), or global equivalent. Moreover, you must also have 23 hours of education.

Read more: Exam Guide for the Preparation of  PMP Certification

5. Preparation Topics

capm domains

CAPM Domains

Domain 1: Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts – 36%

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various project life cycles and processes.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of project management planning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of project roles and responsibilities
  • Determine how to follow and execute planned strategies or frameworks (e.g., communication, risks, etc.). 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of common problem-solving tools and techniques.

Domain 2: Predictive, Plan-Based Methodologies – 17%

  • Explain when it is appropriate to use a predictive, plan-based approach.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of a project management plan schedule.
  • Determine how to document project controls of predictive, plan based projects. 

Domain 3: Agile Frameworks/Methodologies20%

    • Explain when it is appropriate to use an adaptive approach.
    • Determine how to plan project iterations.
    • Determine how to document project controls for an adaptive project.
    • Explain the components of an adaptive plan
    • Determine how to prepare and execute task management steps.

Domain 4: Business Analysis Frameworks – 27%

    • Demonstrate an understanding of business analysis (BA) roles and responsibilities.
    • Determine how to conduct stakeholder communication.
    • Determine how to gather requirements
    • Demonstrate an understanding of product roadmaps.
    • Determine how project methodologies influence business analysis processes.
    • Validate requirements through product delivery.
pmp domains

PMP Domains

Domain 1: People: 42%

  • managing conflict
  • Building and leading a team
  • Supporting team members and stakeholders
  • Collaboration

Domain 2: Process: 50%

  • Communication
  • Risk management
  • Scope 
  • Schedule planning/management 
  • Project methodology selection

Domain 3: Business Environment: 8%

  • Managing project compliance
  • Assessing project value 
  • Integrating organizational change

6. Exam Renewal Process

To keep their certification, PMP holders must acquire 60 PDUs over a three-year period and pay a renewal fee ($60 for PMI members, $150 for non-members).
In order to keep their certification, professionals with CAPM certification must acquire 15 professional development units (PDUs) over a three-year period and pay a renewal fee ($60 for PMI members, $150 for non-members).

7. Exam Difficulty

The PMP (Project Management Professional) exam is renowned for its complexity and is considered more challenging compared to the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) exam. This difference stems from several factors, including the experience requirement for PMP eligibility, which necessitates 3-5 years of project management experience along with 35 hours of project management education. 

In contrast, the CAPM exam is designed for individuals with less experience or new to project management, and thus covers fundamental project management concepts, terminology, and processes. While both exams have their challenges, the PMP exam typically requires a deeper understanding and application of project management principles, making it generally more difficult than the CAPM exam.

8. Registration Process

The registration process for CAMP is quite simple. You need to ensure that you have high school degree and taken the CAPM exam prep course. Simply go to the official site and register for the exam by creating a PMI account

The registration process for PMP exam differs a bit. The reason is that the PMP exam is professional level so you need to ensure that you fulfil the required educational and professional requirements. The next step is to create the PMI account and conform your validity by submitting the required documents and credentials. You can schedule your PMP or CAPM exam by creating an account on Pearson VUE. 

9. Jobs Opportunities

Jobs After PMP 

With PMP certification, individuals are well-positioned to take on leadership roles within organizations, leading teams, driving strategic initiatives, and overseeing multiple projects simultaneously. PMP certification opens doors to a range of senior-level project management roles, including but not limited to:

Jobs After CAPM

While CAPM certification may initially lead to entry-level positions, individuals can gain valuable experience, expand their skills, and pursue further education or certifications to advance their careers in project management.

Entry-Level Positions: CAPM-certified professionals typically start their careers in roles such as:

10. Earning

Generally, the salary of PMP is higher than the CAPM. In this section we will compare their hourly, weekly and monthly salaries. We have taken the average of salary data from ZipRecruiter. 

a) Hourly Salary

Least Average Highest
PMP $12.45 $61.23 $83.19
CAPM $31.01 $44.81 $68.29

b) Weekly Salary

Least Average Highest
PMP $482 $2471 $3471
CAPM $1,367 $1791 $2711

c) Monthly Salary

Least Average Highest
PMP $2010 $11,527 $15,210
CAPM $5428 $7901 $12,730

d) Yearly Salary

Least Average Highest
PMP $24,075 $124,223 $173,782
CAPM $63.043 $94,477 $142,839

Quick Recap of PMP AND CAPM Comparison

Exam Name Project Management Professional Certified Associate in Project Management
Vendor PMI PMI
Level Advanced Beginner
Number of Questions 180 questions 150 questions
Number of Pretest Questions 5 pretest questions 15 pretest questions
Exam Time 20 minutes 180 minutes
Designated Audience Professionals with 2-5 years of experience Beginners with no professional experience
Exam Cost Member: $284.00 Non-Member: $555.00 Member: $158.00 Non-Member: $210.00
Languages Arabic, Chinese (Simplified + Traditional), English, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish (Poland), Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish (Mexico + Spain), and Turkish English, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, French, Portuguese (Brazilian), German, and Japanese
Exam Difficulty Difficult Easy
Validity 3 years 3 years
Renewal PDUs 60 PDUs 15 PDUs
Renewal Fee $60 for PMI members, $150 for non-members $60 for PMI members, $150 for non-members
Offered Job Roles Managerial roles Project assistant roles
Average Salary $123,682/year $95,721 /year

Read more: PMP vs CSM

5 Step Preparation for the PMP and CAPM Exam

Preparing for the PMP (Project Management Professional) or CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification requires thorough study, understanding of project management concepts, and practice. Here are some steps to help you prepare effectively:

  1. Review the eligibility criteria for the PMP or CAPM exam outlined by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Ensure you meet the necessary education and experience requirements.
  2. Obtain the latest edition of the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) published by PMI. This serves as the primary reference for both exams and covers essential project management concepts. For the PMP exam, review the PMP Examination Content Outline provided by PMI, which outlines the key domains and tasks covered in the exam. For the CAPM exam, review the CAPM Examination Content Outline provided by PMI to understand the foundational project management knowledge tested.
  3. Consider enrolling in a PMP or CAPM exam preparation course offered by PMI chapters, professional training organizations, or online platforms. These courses provide structured learning, study materials, and practice exams to help you prepare effectively. 

Reliable PMP Courses are given below:

Reliable CAPM Courses are given below: 

  1. Take detailed notes, create flashcards, and use mnemonic devices to aid in memorization of key concepts, processes, and formulas. Utilize additional study guides, textbooks, and online resources to supplement your learning.
  1. Solve practice questions and sample exams to familiarize yourself with the format and style of questions you’ll encounter on the actual exam. Review your answers and understand why certain choices are correct or incorrect.
  1. Take full-length mock exams under exam-like conditions to simulate the experience of the actual PMP or CAPM exam. Analyze your performance, identify areas of weakness, and focus your study efforts on those areas.

Read more: Exploring Different Types of Project Managers Across Various Industries

Time to Make Final Decision

The worth of PMP or CPM do not overrun. They both stand equally in importance. For the individuals who are searching for an appropriate credential to get entry into the field of project management can take the CAPM. But those who have gained years of experience in PMP, and they are looking forward to learn the advanced and in-depth project management skills are advised to take the PMP certification. The choice to take any of these two credentials is actually not a personal choice, it basically depends on your prior knowledge, expertise and the your level

Frequently Asked Questions

Although PMI membership is not necessary to take the CAPM exam or obtain certification, members do benefit from other offers and a discounted exam fee ($60 for PMI members, down from $150 for non-members).

No, joining PMI is not required to obtain PMP certification, however there are several advantages for members, including a discounted exam cost ($60 for PMI members, down from $150 for non-members).

Applications are processed in five to 10 days, according to the PMI. 

According to PMI, it would take up to 10 days to process CAPM or PMP application.

Yes, a three-year renewal is required for both the PMP and CAPM certifications.

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