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For aspiring and current project managers looking to level up their career in the new year, this list of the best project management certifications offers details on price, experience level, and more.
Table of Contents
- What Is Project Management Certification?
- Best Project Management Certifications for 2023
- Benefits of Project Management Certification
- Choosing the Right Project Management Certification
What Is Project Management Certification?
A project management certification is a complete program that evaluates a person’s knowledge and experience with the tools, methodologies, and principles used in project management. Getting certified keeps even the most experienced project management professionals abreast of the most up-to-date techniques in the field.
Best Project Management Certifications for 2023
|Certification||Certifying Institution||Experience Level|
|PMI-ACP||PMI||mid-level to advanced|
|PRINCE2 Practitioner||Axelos||beginner to mid-level|
|PRINCE2 Agile Foundation||Axelos||beginner|
|PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner||Axelos||beginner to mid-level|
|PMQ||APM||beginner to mid-level|
|PPQ||APM||mid-level to advanced|
|Google Project Management Certificate||beginner|
Project Management Professional (PMP) by PMI
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is offered through the Project Management Institute (PMI), the most prominent global organization for project management professionals.
PMI sets the standards and guidelines for PMP certification, which can be found in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, also known in its abbreviated form as simply the PMBOK Guide. In the process of preparing for the PMP exam, professionals will learn general project management skills and the latest best practices for the various stages of a project.
For PMI members, the exam fee is $405, and for non-members it is $555.
The PMP certification is meant for those with some experience and formal education in the field already. Prerequisites include:
- Four-year degree
- 36 months leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification
- Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
- 60 months leading projects
- 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification
Once earned, those who hold this certification can typically expect a salary increase. According to PMI’s latest salary survey report, survey respondents with a PMP certification report earning 16% higher salaries on average, compared to those without a PMP certification.
The PMP certification is the go-to for experienced project management professionals.
Read more: When Is It Worth It to Get a PMP Certification?
Certified Associate In Project Management (CAPM) by PMI
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is an entry-level project management certification offered by PMI. In the CAPM certification process, learners will become familiar with the foundational knowledge of project management standards and guidelines. Like the PMP, those earning a CAPM will also refer to the PMBOK Guide.
The CAPM exam fee is $225 for PMI members and $300 for non-members. Membership and CAPM exam fee discounts are available to students.
- Secondary degree
- 23 hours of project management education completed by exam time
PMI’s Project Management Basics online course fulfills the project management education requirement. The great thing about the relatively open prerequisites for this certification is that students can get a head start on their project management careers well before graduation.
Since the CAPM is meant for those just starting in their project management careers, it is often used as a stepping stone for further certification in the future, such as the PMP.
Read more: How CAPM Certification Can Help You
Portfolio Management Professional Certification (PfMP) by PMI
Portfolio managers are charged with aligning projects, programs, and operations to strategic objectives, and with investing in the right resources to ensure projects deliver the expected value.
Earning the Portfolio Management Professional Certification (PfMP) demonstrates advanced competency in the coordinated management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives. This certification is meant for executives or senior-level practitioners who manage a portfolio of projects and programs aligned with organizational strategy. The PfMP exam fee is $800 for PMI members and $1,000 for non-members.
In order to qualify for this certification, one of the two sets of criteria must be met:
- Minimum of 96 months of professional business experience within the last 15 years
- Secondary degree
- 84 months of portfolio management experience
- minimum of 96 months of professional business experience within the last 15 years
- Four-year degree
- 48 months of portfolio management experience
Risk Management Professional Certification (PMI-RMP) by PMI
The Risk Management Professional Certification (PMI-RMP) proves one’s ability to identify and assess project risks, mitigate threats, and harness opportunities.
This certification is designed for those with advanced knowledge and experience in risk management. It is also suitable for project managers who focus on project risk management for large and/or complex projects.
The PMI-RMP exam fee is $520 for PMI members and $670 for non-members. In order to qualify for earning this certification, one of the two sets of criteria must be met:
- Secondary degree
- 36 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years
- 40 hours of project risk management education
- Four-year degree
- 24 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years
- 30 hours of project risk management education
Read more: Types of Risk in Project Management
Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) by PMI
The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) covers several approaches to Agile, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD.) PMI-ACP is geared towards professionals who already work with Agile practices and are ready to advance out of entry-level status of their project management careers.
The cost to acquire a PMI-ACP certification is $435 for PMI members, or $495 for non-members. Prerequisites include:
- Secondary degree
- 21 contact hours of training in Agile practices
- 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years
- 8 months of Agile project experience within the last 3 years
Read more: How to Get a PMP-ACP Certification
CompTIA Project+ by CompTIA
Designed specifically for project management professionals who oversee smaller, less complex projects, the CompTIA Project+ certification is ideal for anyone with foundational project management skills.
What makes this certification stand out from the rest is that it covers essential project management concepts beyond the scope of just one methodology or framework.
The price of the CompTIA Project+ exam is $348. Learners acquire skills in a variety of areas:
- Basic project management
- Project lifecycle management
- Effective communication
- Resource and stakeholder management
- Documentation management
- Risk management
- Change management
PRINCE2 by Axelos
Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) is a project- and process-based certification offered by Axelos, which suits project management professionals at various stages in their career. PRINCE2 teaches various stages of the project lifecycle, how to manage cost, time, quality, scope, and assess risks and benefits.
PRINCE2 certification increases the likelihood of landing a financially rewarding project management role, such as Project Manager, Project Lead, Project Control Officer, Project Consultant, and more.
There are two different levels available, PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner.
PRINCE2 Foundation provides theoretical knowledge of how to plan, manage, and deliver projects from start to finish. One must pass the Foundation level before proceeding to the Practitioner level of certification.
PRINCE2 can be tailored to a variety of roles and industry sectors and is available in 18 languages, so it’s adaptable to a learner’s personal and professional needs. Plus, once one becomes certified in PRINCE2 Foundation, it never expires.
The costs will vary, depending on whether certification is done online or in the classroom.
Building off the knowledge acquired in the Foundation level, PRINCE2 Practitioner enables application of the PRINCE2 method in the real-world workplace. It’s more cost effective to bundle these two certifications together.
Unlike the Foundation level, the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification expires after five years. After passing both PRINCE2 levels, one is eligible to proceed to get certified in PRINCE2 Agile if they wish.
PRINCE2 Agile by Axelos
Axelos also offers two certification levels in PRINCE2 Agile, bringing together the flexibility and adaptability of the Agile method with the core principles of PRINCE2.
PRINCE2 Agile can be tailored to meet the demands of any project and is compatible with Agile principles of project management.
PRINCE2 Agile Foundation
In PRINCE2 Agile Foundation one learns the fundamentals of the PRINCE2 method before learning how to integrate it with PRINCE2 Agile in everyday work practices. The certification process tests knowledge of not only the foundational PRINCE2 principles but also Agile concepts and techniques, and how the two blend together.
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner expands upon the knowledge acquired at the Agile Foundation level and applies it to the workplace, using real-world examples so learners can see how it works firsthand.
ScrumMaster Certification (CSM) by ScrumAlliance
ScumAlliance’s CSM certification is geared towards individuals who are looking specifically for the credential of Scrum Master, or just need the tools to be more agile.
Certified Scrum Masters are charged with fostering an effective and productive working environment and guiding others in Scrum values, principles, and practices.
In the certification process, individuals gain a solid understanding of Scrum and learn practical ways to apply it in the workplace before taking the CSM exam. Each step of the CSM certification process is guided by knowledgeable, experienced Agile trainers, and each CSM class can be tailored to meet student needs.
The CSM certification course costs $495. Once one earns their CSM, they can go on to specialize further in ScrumAlliance’s Advanced Scrum Master Certification, Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster Certification, and Agile Coach Certification.
Read more: Best Scrum Software and Tools for 2023
Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) by APM
The Association for Project Management (APM) offers up a range of project management qualifications designed for professionals throughout every stage of their project management career. APM’s certifications are set up in a progressive manner to structure career development from beginner to more advanced knowledge of project management tools, techniques, and processes.
This series of three certifications (covered in more detail below) sets up a pathway to achieve the Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) status, which recognizes the competence and success of project professionals.
The APM Project Fundamentals Qualification provides foundational knowledge of project management terminology and stages of the project management lifecycle. It covers specific areas contained within the APM Body of Knowledge, including:
- Planning and scheduling
- Resource management
- Project risk management
- Project reviews
The PFQ is meant for those seeking a general understanding of the principles of the profession, and no prior knowledge or experience is required to earn this certification.
Project Manager Qualification (PMQ) by APM
The APM Project Management Qualification enables learners to demonstrate knowledge of all elements of project management and how they can be applied to one’s particular workplace environment.
Those who already have some project management experience will benefit most from this certification. It covers knowledge areas such as:
- Budgeting and cost management
- Conflict management
- Communication methods
- Earned value management
- Leadership skills
- Negotiation methods
This certification is ideal for those who have completed the APM PFQ certification and want to deepen their knowledge of project management.
Project Professional Qualification (PPQ) by APM
The Professional Qualification is an examination-based certification that assesses the ability to deliver professional projects. The certification covers the core and specific competencies required across all areas of project management:
- Leadership and management
- Governance and oversight
- Planning and control.
Of the three levels, this certification is the most comprehensive assessment. The exam is based on a real-world case study and is divided into three parts: scenario assessment, oral exam assessment, and a written report.
The PPQ is suited for any project management professional who already holds the PMQ or equivalent and is ready to take the next step in their career.
ICAgile Certified Professional Agile Project and Delivery Management (ICP-APM) by ICA
The International Consortium for Agile (ICA) offers the ICP-APM certification, which teaches skills and practices for successful Lean and Agile product delivery. In the course, students will learn how to identify process bottlenecks, facilitate incremental value delivery, and more.
At the end of the course, certification holders will possess knowledge and skills in:
- Delivery agility
- System management
- Team empowerment and leadership
- Continuous value delivery
- Planning and monitoring
The course cost varies depending on location, format, and other factors. However, to give readers a sense of what to expect, one online synchronous course in the US costs $1,100, while another costs $1,495.
The ICP-APM is one of three certification tracks, so if one chooses, they can become certified in ICP Delivery at Scale (ICP-DAS) and ICE Expert in Delivery Management (ICE-DM) as well. It doesn’t appear that these build off one another, so interested individuals can do just one, two, or all three in any order.
Google Project Management Certificate
Designed for entry-level project managers, Google’s project management certificate teaches the foundations of project management and how to orchestrate the various stages of a project lifecycle, from initiation to execution. The certificate also covers Agile project management.
The program prepares aspiring project managers through more than 140 hours of instruction and hundreds of practice-based assessments, which are based on real-world project management situations. The interactive structure and content was developed by experienced Google employees who work in project management.
The cost of the course will vary depending on how long it takes to complete, however, one can expect to pay at most $300.
Read more: Google Certification: Project Management
Benefits of Project Management Certification
Since they’re often recognized worldwide, project management certifications induct recipients into a global professional community and bolster recipients’ credibility from employers’ perspective.
On the job, those with a project management certification are ready to meet the demands of employers around the world, have better career opportunities, and a higher earning potential.
How to Choose the Right Project Management Certification?
The right project management certification to pursue will depend on a variety of factors:
- Career stage
- Industry standards
- Degree to which the certification can be applied in current workplace
- Degree of desired specialization
- Current or desired work location
Depending on your current needs and priorities, one of the PM certifications above is sure to get you where you want to be in your project management career.
Read next: 10 Must-Have Project Management Skills New PMs Overlook
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