10 Top Project Management Certification

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10 Top Project Management Certification

Shruti Kaushik
Last updated on May 22, 2024

    Project Management Certification programs standardize the skillsets and minimum requirements for project management across organizations all over the world. Excellent project management is essential for the overall success of an organization; however, many project managers do not seem to know how to start as they lack the necessary experience. Project management is required at different levels, and that’s why just having one certification is not sufficient. In today’s fast world, it has become essential to equip yourself with various certifications for different project requirements.

    Why should you get project management certification?

    Project Management certification is widely respected, and if you have this certification added to your resume, companies rely upon you for high-performing and high-net-worth projects. Certification is also a great way to boost your resume and adds loads of essential skills to your skillset. If these reasons are not good enough, here are some more reasons why you should go for Project Management Certification –

    • Better job opportunities and best projects – your company will be happy to give you challenging projects that will provide you with an edge over others. Besides that, you will gain a lot of experience and knowledge from more challenging and engaging projects.
    • Better overall project performance – with the certification in your hand, you are more likely to follow the processes of project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, risk assessment, following best practices, and closure – better than a manager without the certification. With each project and the challenges you face in following the process, you will only get better and appreciate why the methods have been defined so.
    • Wide-recognition – Getting certification from reliable institutes like the PMI enables you to get global recognition, and every company accepts your certification. You are seen as a qualified resource to lead complex projects, and with some success, you can choose to work for projects of your choice.
    • Salary hike – believe it or not, you can get up to 20% more salary than a non-certified project manager. This could mean a huge salary jump, especially if you are just entering into the project management roles.
    • Excellent networking opportunities – Through such certifications, you will be a part of various project management groups and clubs. This helps in building professional networks wherein you can share your insights, seek advice, and discuss issues in different forums.
    • Shows your dedication to the job – Everyone likes employees who are eager to learn and work beyond their comfort zone. Taking the Project Management certification is not a cakewalk. It requires a lot of time, involves cost, and is difficult. That is why it adds credibility to your profile.

    How should you get project management certification?

    There are many levels of Project Management certification. The prerequisites for each certification are different. For example, entry-level certifications do not have too many prerequisites other than a few weeks of project management experience. However, specific certifications like ScrumMaster certification require basic knowledge of scrum and agile. However, to be able to get the full fruits of the certification programs, you should be able to show some critical thinking, task management, scheduling, risk management, and communication skills. We will discuss the prerequisites of each course below.

    Top 10 Project management certifications

    As we discussed, there are many levels of project management certification. However, these top 10 project management certifications cover all the aspects of project management at different levels –

    1. CPMP – Certified Project Management Practitioner

    If you want to know what project management looks like and get some hands-on – this is an excellent certification to do. You can also learn about the various project management tools and techniques. The Certifications help build leadership, management, marketing, and technical skills. CPMP certification doesn’t require you to have any prerequisites but recommends you do a preparatory course for three days. The certification is best suited for those in the IT sector and costs about $199.

    2. APM – Associate in Project Management

    This is a globally recognized entry-level certification and is most suitable for those who have no experience in project management. Through this program, you can get basic to intermediate project management skills. The course takes you through the project lifecycle, why following the process is essential, setting project goals, risk assessment, budgeting, and some marketing aspects of a project. You need not have any prior experience in project management for this course. There are different versions of the course – the basic course is about 20 days and costs $70, and the premium course goes on for 40 days and is priced at $175.

    3. IAPM (CPM) – Certified Project Manager

    This is a global certification program that well-equips you with project management concepts. There are various levels in the certification – junior, agile, and senior. There are no prerequisites for junior level exam. The certification is valid worldwide and confirms your knowledge about projects in a globalized world, management of international projects, phases of an international project, and cultural dimensions of a project. The exam fee is about $122 for the junior level exam. You can take a self-test before going for the final test to get a fair idea of the actual exam. You can study on your own or learn through the web learning preparatory material .

    4. CAPM – Certified Associate in Project Management

    This is a good certification for those who have some experience in project management but want to enhance their skills and move on to more significant and more challenging projects. You can put this as an added skill to your resume and get better job opportunities. You should study thoroughly before sitting for the exam. You can use a lot of online resources to prepare for the exam. Both online, as well as center-based exam options, are available. The certification is valid for five years, so you need to renew it. The exam tests candidates on various areas – theoretical concepts, project management experience, handling on-the-job situations, etc.… You should have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and at least 23 hours of formal project management education to be able to apply for the certification. The cost for the exam (online and center-based) for members of PMI is $225, and for non-members, it is $300.

    5. PMP – Project Management Professional

    This is one of the most valuable certifications, widely recognized all over the world. If you pass this certification, employers sure trust you with all the interesting projects that bring high value to the company. PMP is so important because it involves a lot of focus, time, and experience on the candidate’s part. It’s a tough certification, and that’s why it’s valuable. You should fulfill the following eligibility criteria for the PMP certification exam –

    • 4-year degree (for example, BE or Btech)
    • 35 hours of project management education or training or CAPM certification
    • Three years of experience in leading projects
    • Associate’s degree or high school diploma or equivalent
    • 35 hours of project management education or training or CAPM certification
    • Five years of experience in leading projects

    The test covers all areas of project management – project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling, risk assessment, and closure to test analytical, strategic, communication, concept, budgeting, time management, vendor management, amongst other skills. Don’t be overwhelmed; there are good courses that help you study for the exam. Once you pass the certification, it is essential to maintain the certification every three years, during which you should earn at least 60 professional development units. The cost of the exam for members of PMI is USD405 and for non-members is USD555.

    6. MPM – Master Project Manager

    This certification is given by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), which is a global board supporting the project management industry. The certification aims at getting you into better managerial positions – be it technical project management or business management. It can act as an entry-level certification course, which will allow you to find your interest in technical or business areas. The course mainly focuses on the IT sector. The certification blends technical and management concepts beautifully, and by completing it, you will gain excellent communication skills, team management skills, risk management, and assessment skills, better business and technical skills, follow international project management standards, and ability to look at the larger picture of a project. You must have three years of direct project management experience and training. The cost of certification is $300; however, if you have a master’s degree or are a project management instructor, you may be eligible for a waiver.

    7. PPM – Professional in Project Management

    Though it’s a midlevel certification, the eligibility criteria for PPM certification are quite relaxed – you don’t need a formal degree or formal project management experience; however, you need to prove some level of knowledge and familiarity with project management. It is not difficult to clear this certification, Still, it holds great value because of the learning it comes with – other than learning end to end project management, you also learn to schedule of projects, setting goals, developing necessary project measures, various approaches for project control and ways to keep the team motivated. These skills are important for a mid-level (intermediate level) manager. This will further give you more challenging projects and better growth opportunities. You should go for this certification if you are a program manager, HR manager, project manager, business manager, entrepreneur, marketing manager, or role-based project manager. The price of the certification is $340.

    8. CPD – Certified Project Director

    This is a certification for senior-level managers and is globally recognized. Today’s complex projects require better managerial skills and advanced techniques. With more focus on risk management, budgeting, scope management, quality management, process improvement, etc…, this certification will give you more than just a professional level certification like PPM. CPD is one of the toughest exams to crack, with 80 as the pass percentage. The CPD certification is valid for five years, after which you have to renew it. You must have completed graduation or PG or Masters (or equivalent degree) and hold at least one of the following certifications – PPM, PMP, CPM, or Prince2. The fee for the exam is $280.

    9. CSM – Certified Scrum Master

    CSM is an entry-level certification and is especially useful if you follow Agile methodology for your projects. It provides candidates with basic knowledge about scrum and its values like iterative development, teamwork, user stories, and individual accountability for the project. By earning CSM certification, you can become a scrum master or a scrum team member. A scrum master leads team meetings and defines how roles and responsibilities are split. There are no prerequisites for the exam. However, you have to attend a 16-hour long training with a certified scrum trainer. Once you get the basic certification, you can go for intermediate and advanced level scrum certifications like Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Scrum Coach, and Certified Scrum Trainer. The fee is a surprising $995-$1395 for training as well as the certification.

    10. Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB)

    Six Sigma includes more than just project management. Six Sigma has earned worldwide acceptance and credibility, and with this certification, you can get into some of the top positions in any organization, any domain. Other than project management, it also involves improving processes by reducing process variations and reducing assumptions. Six Sigma is an advanced level certification, and the person with a black belt certification should be able to lead the team, understand their dynamics, and accordingly assign roles and responsibilities. To get this certification, you should have completed at least one Six Sigma project and a few years of project experience. Obtain more information about CSSBB here . The fee is $538. Here is a bonus certification that didn’t make it to the top ten because it is slightly tricky and specialized, but we did not want you to miss it either –

    11. PRINCE2 – Projects IN Controlled Environments

    PRINCE2 methodology has been widely accepted in countries like the UK, Australia, and western European countries. PRINCE2 method is simple – divide the project into more manageable and controllable “stages.” It is an advanced level certification – so there are a lot of prerequisites before you can sit for this exam –

    • PMP certification,
    • The PRINCE2 Foundation course,
    • IPMA Level A to B certification (any)
    • Certified project management associate certification

    The fee is a whopping $900, including the course for 3-5 years, which is why PRINCE2 holds a lot of respect and opportunities.

    How much salary can I earn after project management certification?

    The salary hike is quite big and depends on the certification you take up. More advanced certifications fetch you fatter packages, but to reach there, you need to clear the junior level (basic) certifications too. Here are the approximate salaries you can get with different certifications –

    Certification name Average Salary (in USD)
    CPMP Between $50,000 to $88,000
    APM $85000
    CPM $65000 to $96000
    PMP $100,000 - $113,000
    MPM $85,210
    PPM $104000
    CPD $138000 to $173k
    CSM $85000-$90000
    CSSBB $97200


    If you are new to project management, you should go for certification with minimal prerequisites, such as APM or CAPM. From there, you can decide the career path you want to choose and the appropriate certification training. For example, if your project demands Agile practices, you can go for scrum master and Agile certified practitioner training. In the same way, if you get projects that demand high working capacity with constraints, PRINCE2 is one of the best certifications. Any certification you do will fetch you a better position in the company and enable you to move up the career ladder faster.

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