CAPM vs. PMPWhich certification to pursue: CAPM or PMP?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has several certifications available, and it might be tricky to figure out which one is right for you – but we can help!

For someone interested in a project management certification, you probably think about either the more well-known PMP (Project Management Professional) or the less well-known CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management).

It’s true, PMP is better known, but it’s also harder to qualify with a more difficult exam. CAPM is a great starting point for people early in their career or newer to project management overall.

You may want to think of it as a continuum, and some people choose to start with CAPM and move on to PMP, but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Let’s start with a brief description of each, look at some highlights of each certification and the process to qualify, and then some tips to help you decide.

CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) – What is it?

Earning the CAPM shows you understand the fundamental knowledge, terminology, and processes of effective project management. It’s meant for people without project management experience.

It is an excellent start for anyone who wants to start a career in project management. CAPM aspirants may also work on projects and wish to formalize their project management knowledge. The roles might be a project coordinator, team leader, project contributor, or business analyst.

The certification is also an excellent choice for 2nd or 3rd-year university students or new graduates. Entry-level positions that look for this certification are jobs like project coordinator, meeting planner, event organizer, and project control officer (PCO).

The eligibility and certification processes are also a little less strenuous than the PMP (more on this later).

PMP (Project Management Professional) – What is it?

The PMP is the gold standard of project management certification and ideal for people leading large-scale projects.

Recognized and demanded by organizations worldwide, the PMP shows your competence to perform the role of a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams. This certification will allow you to increase your salary by up to 26% and get promoted to senior roles such as Senior Project Manager, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager, Project Director, Head of PMO, and VP of Project Management.

Eligibility and certification processes for this designation are quite a bit more strenuous than the CAPM. The eligibility and certification processes are more demanding, worthy of the prestige you earn with this accreditation.

Comparing Requirements

CAPM Credential

To be eligible to write the exam for CAPM Certification, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and have completed 23 hours of project management education.

PMP Credential

To be eligible to write the exam for PMP Certification, you need to have either:

About the Exams

The exams are also different. The CAPM exam focuses on testing your knowledge of and familiarity with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The PMP exam is more a test of your understanding of project management principles, problem-solving skills, and analysis in specific situations.


One hundred fifty (150) multiple-choice questions, three hours, focused on PMBOK Guide content. These exam questions tend to be knowledge-based, where you show that you know specific facts and processes about project management.

For example, questions on the CAPM exam may ask you for the formula to calculate the Cost Performance Index (CPI).

Oh, and there’s a great Complete CAPM Exam Prep Course to help you get ready to write the CAPM exam, which also counts towards the training requirement. In addition to our online course, the CAPM exam costs $225US for a PMI member and $300US for someone not a member.

PMP Exam

One hundred eighty (180) multiple-choice questions, multiple responses, matching, hotspot and limited fill-in-the-blank, 230 minutes (just under four hours), covering knowledge areas considered essential to the practice of project management, tasks consistent with project manager responsibilities, and project management situation problems to solve.

For the PMP, you are tested for your ability to think at a higher level and apply what you know in certain situations. For example, you might be given a problem to determine if the Cost Performance Index (CPI) is the appropriate calculation or some other calculation and then actually perform the analysis.

The question will then ask, “What should the project manager do next?”

You may have guessed this, but we also have a Complete PMP Exam Prep Course to help ensure that you are ready for the PMI exam. Our course has proven results, a money-back guarantee, and also meets the training requirement to be eligible to write the exam. In addition to our online course, the PMP exam costs $405US for a PMI member and $555US for someone not a member.

How do I decide?

CAPM certification is proper if …

Are you just getting started with projects? Do you want to learn more about project management to be more comfortable working on a project? Are you early in your career? Are you a student thinking that project management is a direction you might want to go?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then CAPM is a great starting point. It’s a little easier to qualify, and the exam requirements are a little more straightforward.

This certification is an excellent foundation for anyone considering project management as a career or even just for participating in many projects who want to understand the behind-the-scenes of managing projects.

If you end up loving it, you may want to proceed on to PMP certification later.

PMP certification is right if …

You have been leading projects for a while and want to make your experience official.

This certification validates that you are among the best with desirable soft skills. You can lead a project team in today’s changing environment effectively. You are comfortable with the technical aspects of successfully managing projects. You have a good pulse on the connection between projects and organizational strategy and have the project leadership skills employers seek.

The new PMP includes two fundamental approaches: predictive (traditional or waterfall) and adaptive (agile and hybrid).

PMP certification gives you a competitive edge against others leading projects and proves that you work smarter. CIO magazine ranked the PMP as the top project management certification in North America because it demonstrates you have the specific skills employers seek, dedication to excellence and the capacity to perform at the highest levels.

The median salary for project professionals in North America is 26% higher than those without it. PMP certification shows you have the skills to drive business results and increase your organization’s impact in the office and worldwide.

Did that help you choose?

The Bottom Line

CAPM certification is a great starting point and an “entry-level” certification. Maybe it’s all you need – solid knowledge of project management principles and practices and how it all comes together. It’s certainly enough to be a vital project participant and helps you get a foundation of project management skills to get started.

CAPM is also a significant first step if you’re thinking about PMP certification in the future and can even be a stepping stone towards earning PMP certification and count towards PMP eligibility.

PMP certification is harder to obtain and more well-known. It shows that you have strong proficiency and are an experienced project manager. This certification is a requirement for some upper-level project management jobs and a way to legitimate the project management experience you already have.

Once you are PMP certified, you may want to specialize further and work on agile certifications, portfolio management professional certification, or program management professional certification, to name only a couple. As your career progresses, there’s probably a PMI certification that can support it.

Regardless of which one you pursue, be proud of what you achieve and let people know you made an effort and put in the hard work to earn your certification. Consider including your credentials in your email signature, and update your resume and LinkedIn profile. You might even want to use the PMI digital badge you receive after completing certification.

These digital badges tell people some key details, like when you received your certificate, what essential skills are associated with the certification, and what it took for you to qualify. The efforts you take to maintain your certification on an ongoing basis demonstrate to others that you take your career and training seriously, and for those who might not know, to help them understand and appreciate the effort you’ve already invested and invest on an ongoing basis.

Displaying your credential might make others aware of a skill set they didn’t know you have or lead people to ask you about your experience and what you learned while working on certification.
You already did the work. Take credit for it!

Read Our Reviews

Brain Sensei is rated 4.69 out of 5.0 stars based on 55 review(s).


I'm very satisfied with the Brain Sensei PMP Exam Preparation Course. All 8 Modules are very well structured and detailed. I believe that practice exams included in the course helped me a lot with the preparation for my PMP Exam. I appreciate Brain Sensei for their amazing course and for the awesome service. They responded to all my requests immediately. Thanks. Highly recommended.

- Helen Borimsky


The format of the prep-course is great overall and a great alternative to reading the PMBOK. Barring a few minor glitches here and there, the flow of information ensures that concepts are well understood not only from the point of examination but to the point of application in day to day professional activities. Explanations provided in the answers of prep exams (apart from the 1st one) are also a key to understanding the thought process to be applied. With the focus being on Agile approaches from 2021, the information in the course seemed adequate to cover the concepts. All the Best to all aspirants.

- Debraj


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- محسن گلستانی


Studied BrainSensei for 11 days and passed. Succinct and highly informational chapters. The 4 practice exams are marginally more difficult then the PMP. Borderline impossible to fail the PMP if you pass this course.

- Sarmad(Sam)


Great course! They break down all concepts in a very clear and interactive way, that doesn't put you to sleep. Would recommend to anyone who is looking to pass the PMP exam with flying colors.

- Lusine Nazaryan


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- اشحنولي



- اريد شدات بدون رصيد


Your course, quizzes at the end of most modules and practice exams truly challenged me. I definitely derived the value and knowledge I was looking for in preparation for taking the PMP Certification Test. In particular, I appreciated the explanations that popped-up in the tests after an answer was submitted - very educational and helpful to my learning/understanding the material and concepts better. Some areas that could be improved (and some of this is nit-picking) include: * Some of the grammar and overall sentence structures, particularly in the latest set of practice exams, needs to be cleaned-up. Some were missing 'of', 'for, or had an extra 'an' in the narrative - got confusing at times. * In the practice exams, I'd like to see shorter sentences rather than the flurry of 'and' and 'or' conjunctions that made reading the sentences go on forever (had to read them multiple times to truly understand their meaning). That said, I enjoyed the overall online course taking experience and thank you for accommodating my requested time extensions. Best regards, Scott Conn

- Scott Conn


Liked it. Need access for longer though.

- Jerome


What I like best about Brain Sensei is the interactive nature of the course. I think this material would be numbing if delivered as simple lectures with slides. This method is an improvement on that. On the other hand, an in-person course, while more expensive, would likely be even more useful if you have the funds and the time. I haven't taken the PMP exam yet, so I can't comment on how useful the practice tests are.

- James



- Yennyfer


The Brain Sensei PMP program is a wonderful program that condenses the PMBOK into digestible and retainable bites leveraging the power of story telling. If you're looking for a program that will get you your credit hours but also help establish a foundation of PMI knowledge this is the program for you!

- Kenny Dalen


Passed first attempt

- Lee


Truly the best course in town if you wish to pass the PMP exam on the first try. I love the idea of playing the role of the samurai and practice your project management skill in her shoes. And not to forget, the generous amount of practice exam gave me just the right dose of confidence before taking the real one. Highly recommended

- Minh Vo


The course was great, though I found a lot of parts hard to comprehend. I feel a lot more prepared and better skilled to manage projects in my career. Thanks, Brain Sensei.

- Jill Finkelstein


The BrainSensei PMP preparation course provided me with all the material required to be ready for the exam. It is well structured, explains the concepts clearly, and most importantly, provides ample training questions through the four mock exams and assessment questions at the end of each module. I passed the exam with Above Target in all sections on the first attempt.

- Gael Riethmuller


Overall I really liked this learning course. It was very helpful and allowed me to be well prepared for the exam. The 2nd and 3rd practice exam are great to give you real example questions and help prepare you for what to expect. BrainSensei's customer service was the best. I had to delay taking my test due to COVID and they extended my membership for free. They went above and beyond my expectation which was great. Only changes I would recommend is to add 1 or 2 more practice exams like the 2nd and 3rd exam and get rid of the agile practice exam. This is not a real focus of the test and therefore is not really applicable in my opinion.

- Ronnie


BrainSensei developed a great learning method to prepare for the PMP certification exam. Their customer service is always very professional, fast, spot on and dedicated to your success. I recommend them.

- G. Buchs


I've sent several emails to BrainSensei (one of them not so nice, but the rest were okay) and the team has always been so polite in answering the questions. I'm a very straight-forward person and don't like the PMI-ism type questions because they seem like 'gotchas' or traps, and this is not how I manage my team. I took the Master of Project course (which was garbage) then failed the PMP exam. Throughout the PMP exam I felt so out of touch. Even with the first practice exam on BrainSensei I felt out of place, but I am not getting the hang of things. I hope to pass the exam on the second attempt! The brain sensei experience has been *miles* ahead of the Master of Project garbage. Brain Sensei should be proud of both their product and of their team! I love getting replies to my concerns so quickly. Nice work :) !!!

- Joseph Mather


This course was great. it laid a great foundation for the PMP exam.

- Marc Vazquez


very useful

- Dan


I was very pleased with the preparation provided for the PMP certification. I went through the materials twice and passed the exam on the first try. A couple of the questions need to be polished up, but very good training overall.

- Glen


Very easy to work with and quality product.

- Joan


The storyline provides excellent examples that provide context for understanding the core concepts and processes

- Ann


Good self paced learning tool

- Muneer


Outstanding job

- Jerome


This is by far the best way to prepare yourself for the PMP exam. The material is presented in a unique and engaging way that makes learning it easy and also fun! The company behind this course is also very professional and responsive. Keep up the great work!

- Amir Afifi


I have studied with other programs and I didn’t feel prepared. After a short time with Brain Sensei, I had the confidence to succeed on exam day, which I did on the first try after studying with Brain Sensei. It was worth every penny.

- Andrew Grady


Great program

- Ashley


Course is made for people who are already grounded in the material, not for someone that needs all the basics. Was budget friendly and OK content.

- Andrew


Brain Sensei is great tool to have in the study arsenal while preparing for the PMP exam.

- Derek


I really enjoyed the modules and content offered by Brain Sensei! I passed the PMP Exam on the first try and would recommend this course to anyone who is looking for a great PMP Exam Prep.

- Delfin Gallegos


Overall layout is good, but there are some quality issues. Progress isn't always saved across all devices and progress gets lost. Some small spelling mistakes. I loved the practical storyline...

- Riaan


Passed my PMP on first attempt using Brain Sensei Prep course.

- Mohammad Ali


Quick and helpful response. Thanks!!

- Laura


Absolutely Fantastic learning software. Highly recommend it! Very well thought out and creative. Really enjoyed my study time. Excellent mock tests and mock exams. So so helpful. Thank you Brain Sensei Team for being part of my PMP journey!

- Tracy


Need improvement in presenting more relevant real exam type questions. The practice exams are too simple and easy and do not prepare you for the real exam. Otherwise, good concept presenting material

- Amir


The prep materials provided plenty of content which prepared me well for the PMP exam. The questions were packed with information.

- Cameron


Teaches the PMP in a solid manner, some things you need to know as a potential consumer: -The Samurai backstory is extremely short, and didn’t really assist me with recall in any in-depth way. It only gave broad brush-strokes as to what each phase entailed. -MOST of what was on the test was covered in the lessons, however if I had zero real prior PM knowledge prior to the test, I would have failed. -The first practice test forces you, as the student to actually read into the PMBOK, which was a benefit in the long run as it assisted me with quickly referencing what I needed to find. -The course will likely cover wave tops and subjects, forcing me to self-study for a week before my test... not a bad deal all things considered. -Brain Sensei’s course has incorporated Agile into one of their practice tests, and this test IS mandatory. This may seem strange, and I didn’t get a satisfactory reason why I needed to take a purely Agile test when I only wanted to take the PMP, for anyone else in this scenario, this is the reason: In June, PMI is revamping the PMP test to include Agile as a significant portion of the PMP. Brain Sensei is just ahead of the curve trying to get students prepared... fret not. Their customer service is extremely responsive and does take care of their members. My program had a couple bugs, and the customer service fixed my problems within 24 hours. All in all... it was absolutely worth the money for me.

- Kevin


I am very impressed with this learning system. The content is laid out in a way that will make any learner understand all the process groups and ITTOs in order to understand Project management and be equipped to excel in the test. The learning system is engaging and fun at the same time. It's very different than other learning material which is composed mostly of videos. Some improvements are needed, but in my opinion Brain Sensei is great value for money

- said durra


At first, I was attracted to Brain Sensei training for their original learning program using a Samurai's story. And indeed it made the whole learning experience funnier - so easier. I felt like the Samurai. Then, I was amazed by The Brain Sensei Team's reactivity and help when I reached out through Their support was constantly reliable and efficient. I appreciated their professionalism and didn't feel on my own. At last, the course and the practice exams proved to be efficient since I passed the PMP exam - with 'Above Targe't in all Domains. So thank you so much Brain Sensei Team !! Charlene

- Charlene LU


Overall very good. Got stuck a few times trying to find resources which I should have downloaded the before starting the program. Customer service has been great.

- Jonathan Williams


SO far I am thoroughly enjoying the Brain Sensei PMP prep course. I have taken a Project management class as a part of my degree which I recently completed and project management has always interested me. I find the course to be educational and easy to follow. I am grateful that this course has been designed in such a way that is simple to understand all of the complexities in project management and that allows me to study at my own pace.

- Eric Browne


The content is good and easy to understand

- Glenn


This review is based on completing all course work through module 102. The story and interactive nature of the course are helpful for learning and relating the material. It would be nice to have the page numbers to the PMBOK guide where references are made to it. Other information that will be helpful, are the explanations to the practice questions at the end of each module. These are provided only after immediately answering the questions. Having these available in the score summary from the 'history' tab will be helpful to refresh why the answer is correct and other options are not.

- Rohan Punit


Overall I would rate this course an 8/10. I liked how there were exams towards the end of every module and I felt that it was very useful having it laid out in different scenarios. I rate it only an 8/10 as I had some glitch/software issues and lost my progress resulting in me having to re-do modules/exams multiple times. All in all, that was maybe useful in the end as it was a way for me study or 're-learn' the course material. Thank you!

- Nikki Cordy


Clear and precise explanations of how things work. I was never lost navigating the course.

- Gary Nicol


A smart approach to present the information which makes it fun and engaging while at the same time preparing for the PMP exam. Brain Sensei differentiates itself from other PMP exam preps in that it delivers the knowledge through the use of storytelling technique. I recommend this course because it will help you pass your PMP exam on the first try.

- Jamal


Loved the story telling and the practice exams. I felt very prepared when the actual exam came around.

- Josh


One of a kind training that was truly engaging!

- Claire


Excellent course for preparing for the PMP exam in a fun and engaging way! The practice questions resemble the actual questions on the exam making it a completely worthwhile experience.

- Rossetta


I passed the PMP exam after taking Brain Sensei's Online PMP Certification Exam Prep. The practice exam questions were so similar to the questions that appeared on the exam. On exam day, when I sat down to take the test and started running through the questions I felt so relieved! The practice exams are also timed so you get more comfortable with the exam experience and feel better prepared when you sit down to take the test. The other differentiator was the video content throughout the modules. The concepts are taught through a story of a young samurai defending her kingdom. This will probably be the only PMP prep course where you can learn all the knowledge areas and feudal Japan at the same time. I'd recommend this course not just because of the videos but because it helped me pass my exam on the first try.

- Jackie


Good course, but a few grammatical errors with how some questions were worded.

- Sonia


It was good!

- Sergei


Loved the unique approach and it still had all the info I'd expect from a full PMP exam prep course. Very responsive on questions too.

- Chris