Certification. What choices does a Project Manager have?

How many verges of the project management craft could be certified? Which project management certification to choose?

Hey Crizpers, today we are going to talk about the various certification that are available for PMs. When I have started my project management journey, I was so dense. I had no idea that some world standards could be applicable to this profession and that I could get any kind of certification to confirm the level of my skills and knowledge. It was a real discovery to find out that there are globally recognized standards and, moreover, multiple options of the certifications. Thus, once known, it was put into a target to become a certified professional. But which project management certification to choose?

I was intended to get certified as soon as possible and fell with PMP. Later on I have defined there are other options and opportunities available, but the famous one I have picked. How have I got certified I will tell you in my next topic. Now, so that you could be more cognizant than I was, let’s talk about the choices that a Project Manager has in terms of certifications.

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How Certs Differ?

To begin with, certifications varies. They provide confirmation of various aspects and skills of the project management, as well as confirm different levels of knowledge and experience.

You could choose to get the overall certification, such as Project Management Professional, or PRINCE2. Or a certification for the specific knowledge area, like Risk Management of Business Analysis.

Besides, there are certain criteria to qualify for the certification. Moreover, some of certs are valid during only the specific time and may require additional efforts for the renewal.

There are multiple certification providers all over the world. If you would like to become certified, I would advise going with the most famous institutes that are globally recognized. That will serve you a good service for the future as you will not need to explain what your certification means and what skills does it confirm.

Project Management certifications comparison

Thereby, choosing a certification you would need to consider:

  • the certification institution;
  • the area of certification;
  • the level of the certification.

Of course, the certification price differs too and is also taken into the consideration individually.

From my personal attitude, I would allocate the following certification providers. At least, from what I saw, the certs by these institutions are mostly demanded worldwide. Some of these organizations are listed in the Project Management History stamps in my Project Management day article.

Project Management Institute (PMI)

This is a global non-profit professional organization for Project Management. Was founded in 1969. Its services include the development of standards, research, education, publication, networking-opportunities in local chapters, hosting conferences and training seminars, and providing accreditation in project management. The PMI serves more than 2.9 million professionals all over the world. This institution offers membership – a paid participation that require to be renewed annually. By holding a PMI membership you will get a chance the PMP chapters meetings attendance and to get discounts on the certifications.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The well-known Project Management certification that is on the tip of the tongues. It is an internationally recognized professional designation offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This is the most popular certification is the US and Americas. Besides, it is recognized all over the world.

This certification require certain level of education and/or experience in your background in order to qualify for the exam. This means, it confirms not only the level of knowledge and skills, but the specific record of those who was allowed to pass the test.

To qualify for the exam you need to have either:

  • a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent);
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects;
  • 35 hours of project management education OR CAPM certification.


  • Four-year degree (usually it is a Bachelors’ degree);
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects;
  • 35 hours of project management education OR CAPM certification.

The certification is valid for 3 years and require renewal.

I will describe my personal experience and share the tips to become a PMP in my next article. Additionally, will explain, how to maintain the certification further.

Other Project Management Certificates Offered By PMI

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

CAPM is the one that is mentioned as an optional criteria for taking the PMP. Here we can define that CAPM is more affordable and available. This certification could be considered as a step #1 in the PMI stages of certification.

Requirements to qualify for the CAPM examination are:

  • a Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam. 

Pretty straightforward and painless. And for many Project Managers newbies that could be a great opportunity for getting their first certification. And additional advantage is that CAPM does not require a renewal.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Another popular certification from PMI is Agile Certified Practitioner. As adaptive methodologies now-a-days are widely utilized and welcomed by many companies, the possibility to get certified as Agile specialist is offered by this institute.

The qualifications needed to apply for the exam:

  • 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. A current PMP® or PgMP® will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP;
  • 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies. This requirement is in addition to the 2,000 hours of general project experience;
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.

PMI-ACP also require to be renewed every 3 years.

project management professional stairs

More Proficiency Certification Levels by PMI

After obtaining CAMP, PMI-ACP and PMP certifications, there are more opportunities offered by the Project Management Institute.

These are the Program Management Professional Certification (PgMP) – next stage after the PMP. And, further, Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP). I will touch base on the differences among a Project, a Program and a Portfolio later on in my topics. For now, just be aware that the PMP certification is not the ceiling of your professional growth.

Besides, PMI offers other certifications, such as Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA), Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) and Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP). These complementary achievement could also become a beneficial asset to your resume.


One of the global leaders of the best practices, the joint venture company created in 2013 by the Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom. AXELOS equips professionals with a wide range of content, templates and toolkits through the subscription service and online community of practitioners.

This provider offers a competing choice to the PMP certification – PRINCE2 (Projects In Controlled Environments).

The major difference between PMP and PRINCE2 is the global recognition preferences. While both of these certs recognized all over the world, PMP has more fans in the US and Americas, and PRINCE2 is more desirable in the UK, Europe and Australia. Nevertheless, both these certificates are more or less equal and even acknowledge each other’s existence in their advertising materials.

As for PRINCE2, there are also variables and the different stages of the certification are available.

PRINCE2 Foundation

This is the initial level of the Projects In Controlled Environments certification. This step does not require much, but the knowledge of the PRINCE2 principles and terminology. Thus to take the test you will need to have a certain project management education in your background. The options are offered by the education providers.

PRINCE2 Practitioner

Sequentially, this is the next step of the Projects In Controlled Environments certification and it requires certain qualifications to take the test. Basically, for this exam you should already have an experience in leading and managing projects. Besides, you should have another certification in your pocket to be eligible for the test. The requirements for PRINCE2 Practitioner certification are:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation OR
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) OR
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) OR
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA) certificates are also accepted by AXELOS as a required qualification.
  • PLUS the certain number of hours of the professional education.

The big difference between PMP and PRINCE2, is that Projects In Controlled Environments certification is more tolerant in terms of expiration and does not require a renewal.


Another opportunity offered by AXELOS is to become certified in the field of Agile methodology within the PRINCE2 level of standards.

As the generic PRINCE2 certification, PRINCE2 Agile has two stages. PRINCE2 Agile Foundation which is available for anyone without a prior qualification (similar to PRINCE2 Foundation).

And PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner, which has the eligibility criteria to comply with and is designed for the certified project managers. The criteria to sit the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exam is analogous to the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam requirements.

Scrum Alliance

Scrum Alliance is an organization that provides education, resources, and support to practitioners of Scrum and Agile. In general they position themselves as a part of a Scrum mindset and movement. Founded in 2001, they are the largest and one of the most influential professional membership and certification organization in the Agile community. Similar to the other powerful institutions, Scrum Alliance offers the community membership.

In this topic I would like to also consider the ScrumMaster certification that is offered by Scrum Alliance. As one of the modern adaptive methodologies, Scrum is extremely popular today. Thus, the Certified ScrumMaster level earns a lot of selling points to your resume.

Certified ScrumMaster

The most common certification is the stage one – Certified ScrumMaster. This organization provides strict requirements for the test eligibility. While PMI and AXELOS accept the online professional education, Scrum Alliance set mandatory criteria to attend the classes in person. So, the requirements to take the exam are:

  • Attend an in-person, 16-hour course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST);
  • After successfully completing the course, you will need to take the 50 question within the 60 minute time limit;
  • After you pass the CSM test, you will be asked to accept the CSM License Agreement and complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

The ScrumMaster cert will require a renewal every 2 years – you need to earn 20 professional units. And another difference, additionally to the professional credits, you could renew the Scrum Alliance certifications only on a paid basis. Together with the earned credits you will need to pay a fee.

This institution also provide an opportunity on the further evaluation of your certification. Next steps after the CSM will be:

  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster;
  • Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster.

Besides, there are other variations for the certification:

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner and it’s individual stages;
  • Certified Scrum Developer and Certified Scrum Professional.

Other Globally Recognized Certifications

Of course, there are other global institutions that offer a professional certification in the project management field. Apart from the options I have mentioned above you could put a glance on the:

They are also globally recognized and provide multi-level stages of the certification and professional evaluation. And this is not the end of the list, so you could enhance it with your personal preferences.

Certs Comparison

To give you a better picture I have put together certification options that we have discussed in this article. Below you could find this compare-and-contrast tables based on the information that is currently available on the official websites. For more precise specification I would advice visiting the institutions resources as they could make changes either to the criteria of eligibility, or to their prices. Hope this will help to make a choice should you wish to move on with any of these certifications.

Let me know if the topic was helpful and which certification you think is the most valuable.


PMI certifications comparison