What is the difference between PMP and CAPM?

Shahzad Masood


Both the PMP certification and CAPM are popular certifications offered by PMI, each with its own separate requirements. The PMP is designed for seasoned project managers or individuals with some project management experience. Conversely, the CAPM is intended for recent college graduates or those who may not meet the eligibility criteria for the PMP certification due to a lack of formal project management experience.

In this blog post, I will outline some key differences between the PMP and CAPM certifications. Additionally, I’ll help you determine which certification exam aligns best with your work experience to enhance your project management career.

What are the requirements for the PMP certification?

PMP, or the Project Management Professional certification, is a generic certification that can be pursued by individuals from any background. It is not industry-specific and can be obtained by professionals working in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, IT, finance, marketing, insurance, healthcare, and others. All you need to do to attain the PMP is to have work experience specifically in project management, which you will need to demonstrate to PMI.

Here are the requirements/pre-requisites for the PMP below:

  1. If you have a Bachelor’s Degree, you need to show at least 36 months of project management experience with 35 hours of project management education.


  1. If you only have a High School Diploma or an Associate’s Degree, then you need to show 60 months of project management experience along with 35 hours of project management education.

You will need to demonstrate your project management experience to PMI by completing a PMP application. You can learn more about how to capture your experience using these PMP experience examples for the application.

You can take an online PMP training course, and the training provider will provide you with the 35 contact hours certificate required to apply for the PMP.

What are the prerequisites for the CAPM certification?

As mentioned earlier, the CAPM certification is designed for individuals without any project management experience or for those who are just starting their careers.

To get the CAPM certification, you need to:

  • Have a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, GED (general educational development), or global equivalent
  • Have at least 23 hours of project management education completed before the exam

If you have your high school certificate and the certificate for the 23 hours of project management education, you can go ahead and apply for the CAPM certification.

The training provider will provide you with the 23 contact hours certificate once you complete their course.

What is tested in the PMP Exam vs. the CAPM exam?

Both PMP and CAPM certification exams test you on project management concepts, but their focus areas are slightly different, and the difficulty levels of the exams differ as well. The PMP exam is considered to be more challenging than the CAPM exam since it tests the application of knowledge acquired while studying for the PMP. Many PMP exam questions are situational, and the answers are not straightforward. You will need to apply your critical thinking abilities to answer PMP test questions.

Here is what the PMP exam tests you on:

Since the PMP has three domains, I have provided you with a high-level understanding of what is tested in each of these domains:

  1. The People domain is predominantly associated with managing conflict, leading teams, communicating with stakeholders, engaging and supporting virtual and physical teams, and so on. Therefore, this section will test your knowledge of the people side of project management.
  2. The Process domain is associated with testing you on all the technical elements of managing a project, such as planning, executing, and managing aspects such as cost, quality, scope, schedule, change, integration, risk, resources, procurement, and communication.
  3. The Business Environment domain tests on planning and managing project compliance, delivering project benefits and value, management of project strategy, and a few other related concepts.

The CAPM exam tests you in the following areas, as you can see below.

The CAPM exam questions are more straightforward compared to the PMP, making the exam easier in comparison. However, even the CAPM exam has become more situational than before, testing understanding concepts rather than relying solely on bookish definitions and rote memorization. I hope that by now, you have a better understanding of the difference between the CAPM and the PMP and which one you might want to choose based on your experience and career goals. In general, the PMP is for people eyeing mid- to senior-level project manager roles, while the CAPM is for beginner project managers or coordinators.

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