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Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Contributor(s): Corinne Bernstein

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is a vendor-neutral, entry-level certification for individuals interested in entering the project management (PM) field. Introduced in 2003 by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a non-profit professional organization, the CAPM credential is geared toward students, recent graduates or others who are new to PM or who would like to add skills, gain more responsibility or manage larger projects. 

Although the CAPM isn’t as recognizable and doesn’t have the same clout as a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, the credential is often suitable for employees who have project management as part of their duties or want to grow into a project management role. The CAPM is one of a small number of entry-level programs in the PM field; another is the CompTIA Project+, which is designed for professionals who manage small to midsize projects.

Learning the ropes in project management has gained importance as PM roles – including overseeing the planning, organization and implementation of projects – have grown. According to the PMI, “Through 2020, 1.57 million new jobs will be created each year and qualified practitioners are in demand.”

To qualify for the CAPM, candidates must have a secondary school diploma (high school or the equivalent), and a minimum of 1,500 hours experience or 23 hours of PM education. PMP certification requires three to five years of on-the-job PM experience, depending on the applicant’s educational background. Candidates also must pass a three-hour exam with 150 multiple-choice questions. The tests can be taken at a registered testing center or candidates can take an online proctored exam (monitored by an offsite proctor).

The CAPM exam is based primarily on PMI’s project-management framework described in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). The framework incorporates five processes – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing – and their interlinked processes. Knowledge of this framework is also essential for those looking eventually to pass the more difficult 200-question PMP exam.

The CAPM certification is valid for five years, and candidates must retake the exam to maintain the credential. However, CAPM certification does not require continuing education, unlike the PMP, whose candidates require at least 60 professional development units every three years.

This was last updated in June 2018

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