CAPM: What is it?
CAPM stands for Certified Associate of Project Management and is the go to certification for individuals getting started in the field that may not have received a four year degree or haven’t had any work experience. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers CAPM to help those who want to get the experience to become Project Management Professionals (PMP). The contact hours earned for CAPM never expire so they can count towards the hours needed when you have enough experience to move forward with your PMP, and the formal coursework centered on project management allows you to focus on the knowledge areas and processes necessary to work on the tasks to get that experience.
CAPM certification requirements
Project Management Institute (PMI)
PMI is the world leader of CAPM certification. They are globally recognized for their standards and hold their members and certificate holders to a code of ethics and best practices that makes them the model in the field of project management.
PMI offers the exams but the training itself is up to you.
Reasons for getting CAPM certification
CAPM certification is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The PMBOK provides you with the most advanced techniques, tools, and information to start your career in project management on the right foot.
CAPM is globally recognized, allowing you more access to international projects and collaborations.
Holding a CAPM certificate increases your pay as well as your value to companies throughout the world.
CAPM certificate holders demonstrate they are moving forward in their careers and employers are more likely to work with them as they reach the goal of becoming a PMP certificate holder.
Also, if you hold a CAPM certificate and join PMI, you will have a huge network of project managers, materials, workshops, and learning opportunities that will keep you on the path. There are many local chapters as well that give you the chance to network, find a mentor, or even become one.
CAPM Eligibility Requirements
The requirements for CAPM certification are quite simple. You need to hold a minimum of a secondary degree or global equivalent, like a GED in the United States and you need to have 23 contact hours.
Contact hours are focused coursework, a way to become familiar with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
CAPM Education Courses
Before you can apply to sit for the exam you have to complete the 23 contact hours. As stated earlier, the contact hours don’t expire, so you may wish to go forward with a PMP course or a course that provides you with the full 35 contact hours necessary in order to sit for your PMP in the future.
Many companies provide CAPM education, but there are some key elements that you need to decide on before choosing which one to take.
The first question to answer is ‘does the trainer/training provide a certificate of completion?’ PMI often audits applications for the exam to make sure the experience and/or education documented on certification applications is valid and accurate. A percentage of applications are selected randomly and if you are audited you will need to provide PMI with all documentation required by PMI in order to proceed with the audit and go forward with the exam once your application is approved.
Location is the next consideration. If you are in an area where you can find live in person training, you may want to receive your training in a traditional classroom setting. This provides you with student as well as trainer interaction. However, there are many online options available as well, allowing you to attend training wherever you may be, at home, or off site at a project.
Time and Learning Style
Time is another factor. There are a variety of ways to get your required contact hours.
- Bootcamp training is intensive training focused on the PMBOK. They can be offered online or in person. They generally have strict attendance requirements, so missing a class can mean you have to pay for the entire course again and take the entire course again. If this occurs you may not receive any of the contact hours required.
- Traditional classroom training, either online or in class is scheduled over the course of weeks or months. It allows students more time to digest the information.
- Many online programs have self-paced focused training. This not only allows you to learn where you want, but when you want to. Evenings, lunch breaks, weekends, with self-paced learning you pick the place and the time.
You can earn CAPM contact hours through
- Chapters of PMI
- Exam prep course providers
- Project management programs/seminars/workshops sponsored by your company
- Training institutes
- Distance education providers and
- Academic programs
Make sure that you aren’t confusing contact hours with Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) also known as Professional Development Units (PDU). There are many ways that you can earn these once you have your certification that do not meet the contact hours requirements.
Each project management focused hour of coursework equals one contact hour. As stated above, if your end goal is to achieve other certifications, you may want to go forward with a course that provides you with contact hours above the 23 required for CAPM certification.
Choosing the right CAPM course for you
Above and beyond the completion certificate, location, time and style of learning you’ve decided fit your needs, there are other items to look for when seeking out a company to go with.
This requires some research. Courses that provide:
- Expert Instructors
- PMI approval
- Good Feedback and Testimonials
- Satisfy the Contact Hours Requirement and
- Are upfront with pricing are all companies that you should look at
Take the time to research the instructors. Talk to colleagues, past students, even your employer, to see what courses they may recommend.
To push the point, a PMP course provider should:
- Satisfy the minimum 23 contact hours
- Provide structured content and material
- Provide real-life examples to sample questions and answers
- Have positive feedback through students, PMI, employers, and reviews
Many courses provide you with access to story modules, knowledge assessments, self assessments, and customer service to help you throughout the course. They also provide access to other students, even in the self-paced options. Through social media you can join study groups and help others as well as yourself.
Then there are the risk free, pass guarantees and free trials. Brain Sensei’s Self-Paced CAPM Exam Prep course is an excellent choice. Of the online courses available,we strongly recommend it. They include a pass guarantee, money-back guarantee, and access to the entire course with unlimited practice questions for an entire year.
Taking the CAPM Exam
Once you’ve taken your course and know that you have met the eligibility requirements it’s time to get to the exam.
First you will need to apply online at PMI and receive confirmation. If you are selected for an audit you will need to provide them with the documentation they require to proceed.
Back to PMI membership, if you are a member your fee for the exam is $225. Students can get a reduced rate annual membership with PMI for $32 per year. Non members of PMI will pay $300 for your certification exam fee.
Remember, PMI membership isn’t just about saving money on fees. It’s about becoming part of the global community of certified project managers, keeping you up to date and knowing the trends to come.
Set a date for your exam on the Pearson VUE center link at pmi.org. Make sure that you provide yourself with plenty of time to study.
The exam itself consists of 150 multiple choice questions, 15 of which are considered pre-test questions which don’t affect your score. The exam lasts for 3 hours with no scheduled breaks. If you require a break it will be taken off of your exam time.
PMI has set the following standards for the questions on the exam:
- Introduction to Project Management 6%
- Project Environment 6%
- Role of the Project Manager 7%
- Project Integration Management 9%
- Project Scope Management 9%
- Project Schedule Management 9%
- Project Cost Management 8%
- Project Quality Management 7%
- Project Resource Management 8%
- Project Communication Management 10%
- Project Risk Management 8%
- Project Procurement Management 4%
- Project Stakeholder Management 9%
Best estimates are that a percentage above 70% will allow you to pass the exam and become a CAPM certificate holder. You can take the exam up to three times within a year after originally submitting your application.
But you’ve studied, you’ve passed the practice exams at 80%, and you’ve got this. Welcome to your career!