What is a CAPM? (Certified Associate in Project Management)

A Certified Associate in Project Management, or CAPM, is a certification distributed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) designed to prepare entry-level and aspiring project managers on the path toward a successful project management career.

A CAPM is one of the many tools in the belt of a budding project management career. This certification is the first step toward demonstrating competence, dedication, and willingness to expand your knowledge base as widely as you possibly can. Receiving a CAPM certification is one of the most direct methods for achieving your project management-related goals.

Who is a CAPM For?

PMI says the CAPM is for people that would “like to manage larger projects and gain more responsibility or add project management skills into [their] current role.” What this means is that the CAPM is a certification for anybody looking to bolster their project management skills or step into the project management role. These can be recent high school graduates looking for a career path or seasoned business professionals ready to take their craft to the next level.

The beauty of a CAPM certification is the range of professional development it covers. Young professionals looking to develop their careers are going to gravitate toward this likely more than others. This is a certification that will stand as a strong foundation with which you may build your project management career to substantial heights. This certification is not strictly for green project managers gathering their first few accolades, in fact, CAPM candidates come from the following backgrounds:

  • Fresh high school graduates
  • Junior-level associates reaching for project management-related promotions
  • Current project managers lacking a PMI credential, looking to build their fundamentals
  • Curious professionals looking to fill their résumés with a broad range of credentials
  • Professionals looking to redirect their careers

Beyond acting as a useful tool for equipping project managers with the tools they need for success, this course and credential is standardized, rigorous, and well-respected, making it a must-have for project managers new and old.

A firm dedicated to the growth and development of its team will find utility in revisiting the basics with its current tenured project managers. As time passes, we tend to become complacent with the way things are done, without making an effort or even wanting to change. Earning a CAPM is an excellent method for refreshing, refining, and reaffirming the basic skills of an already excellent project manager.

What Does a CAPM Certification Cover?

Obtaining a CAPM Certification means that a successful candidate understands the project management basics, which include:

Conflict resolution

Understanding how to navigate and resolve any manner of conflict that arises during the project management process is easily the single most indispensable tool for a successful project manager. Successfully preparing for the CAPM means that you understand:

  • How to process the needs of aggrieved parties, which can be your clients or your coworkers
  • How to address these needs in a comprehensive manner
  • How to follow up to ensure the action plan is achieving your desired result
  • If it has not, then how to readdress the conflict at hand

Learning effective conflict resolution methodology is crucial to operating as effectively as possible in high-pressure, fast-paced work environments. The agility and creative thinking needed to become an interpersonal problem solver are similar to the kinds of sideways thinking you need to effectively manage high-stakes projects.

Agile

Agile tends to bring software development to mind, but the lessons and core values of agile can be incorporated into any project manager’s tool kit no matter the industry. The four core values of agile a CAPM certification test covers are:

  • Working as collaborative individuals and interactions rather than with strict tools and processes
  • Using management software rather than obsessively documenting every step of the project
  • Collaborating closely with customers rather than needling contract minutiae

Agile’s methodology and the soft rule-setting it employs is likely going to be the skill project managers will gravitate toward more than anything else in the course of earning a CAPM certification.

Process Management

While conflict resolution and process frameworking are crucial soft skills every project manager needs, more concrete skills like process management are needed to get a project off the runway. All of the conflict resolution in the world alone is not going to bring an actionable process into existence. Process management includes:

  • High-Stakes Business Process Management: The process of effectively negotiating with clients and handling the accounting of your team or firm
  • Change Management: The process of managing, analyzing, and navigating changes in your work structure, be that as large as incorporating a business acquisition or as mundane as a teammate’s maternity leave
  • Establishing the project roadmap and effectively managing the team as your project occurs in real-time.

Is a CAPM Right For You?

CAPM certification is achievable by any professional looking to put in the work. Obtaining these skills takes time and a well-managed life, but once obtained, the benefits are immeasurable. Finding yourself here is the first step toward totally restructuring the trajectory of your career.

The minimum qualifications for receiving the CAPM are:

  • Secondary degree of some sort like a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or an international equivalent
  • Minimum of 23 hours of official PMI project management education

Other than that, the only other thing you need is the confidence to tackle a 150-question three-hour test are the only other prerequisites needed to obtain this certification

A CAPM certification is for thinkers and doers. Traditional education and non-traditional career trajectories alike benefit from the formalized education this credential requires. It’s a certification that reinforces strong skills at any stage of a project manager’s professional development. Any project manager should seek out this credential if they want to bring themselves to the next level in their career.

Dale Jakes

Dale Jakes is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, Project-Management.com, and ITBusinessEdge.com. In addition, he writes about technology, games, and music on sites all across the internet, as well as being a social media manager. Dale's willing to try anything once.