What Is the CAPM Certification? (Why and How to Earn It)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification for entry-level professionals who wish to learn basic project management skills. The CAPM can distinguish you as a candidate and show your ability to collaborate on projects and effectively manage a team. You can use this topic to learn about how this certification can help you gain credibility in your field with the skills to work on projects more efficiently. In this article, we explain what the CAPM certification is, discuss its prerequisites and benefits, and provide steps for earning it.

What is the CAPM certification?

CPM certification is an educational asset that professionals can obtain as proof of their understanding of project management strategies and teamwork skills. The PMI offers this certification for people who wish to work on more challenging projects or enhance their ability to work effectively in their current roles. Prerequisites for writing the CAPM exam include a secondary degree and 23 hours of project management education. You can earn the educational requirements from the PMI Project Management Basics course online.

The certification exam comprises 150 questions, which you have three hours to complete and submit. To maintain your certification, PMI requires you earn 15 project development units (PDU) every three years, which you can report on their website. You can earn the PDUs by volunteering, teaching others, or learning in one-hour blocks of time at seminars, classes, mentoring or volunteer groups, or webinars. The exam covers the following four domains:

  • Project management fundamentals and core concepts: This domain is worth 36% of the exam and consists of five tasks. Topics in this section include identifying the difference between a project, program, or portfolio; applying the PMI code of ethics and professional conduct; and evaluating the outcomes and functions of a meeting.

  • Predictive, plan-based methodologies: This domain, comprising three tasks, is worth 17% of the exam. Topics in this section include identifying the differences between various project components, applying a quality management plan, scheduling, and calculating costs.

  • Adaptive framework/methodologies: The third domain is worth 20% of the exam and comprises five tasks. Topics in this section include comparing the benefits and limitations of adaptive frameworks for projects, planning project iterations, and explaining the components of different adaptive methodologies.

  • Business analysis frameworks: The final domain is worth 27% of the exam and contains six tasks. Topics in this section include explanations of the various stakeholder roles, the necessity of communication for business analysts, how to implement a project roadmap, and how to know if a project is complete and ready for delivery.

Related: 30 Careers for Project Managers and Their Average Salaries

Project Management Basics online course prerequisite

This course covers basic project management skills, such as leadership, time management, and effective communication. It uses case studies to demonstrate various project management positions' different roles and functions and how each role responds to different scenarios and project features. By providing you with opportunities to analyze unique problems and identify solutions, the course helps you to develop important technical and problem-solving skills and strategies. It also allows you to develop a foundational project management vocabulary to apply to projects and strengthen your understanding of project management standards and ethics.

How to earn the CAPM certification

Here are steps you can take to earn your certification:

1. Decide if the certification is right for you

Before you take the project management basics course or the certification exam, consider how the certification might enhance your professional credibility. It's likely to benefit your career prospects if you're considering a designation in project management or if you're an entry-level employee in an industry such as health care, government, education, manufacturing, transportation, or IT. The certification may also provide value for professionals who'd like more responsibility in their designation.

Related: How to Become a Project Manager for IT (With Tips)

2. Ensure you have the right prerequisites

Requirements for the certification exam include a high school diploma or equivalent and completion of the 23-hour project management basics course. In this course, you can develop a foundation of project management concepts and vocabulary terms that you can apply to practical issues you may encounter on a project. Some concepts that the course covers include how to execute and plan strategies, how to implement plan-based methodologies, gathering the right tools and requirements, effective communication strategies, and performing business analysis.

Related: 11 Types of Business Risk and Steps to Manage Them

3. Apply for the exam

If you have the prerequisites and you decide you want to pursue certification, you can apply to take the exam. Once you start your application, you have 90 days to complete and submit it before it expires. The exam costs $300 for a non-member and $225 for a member. Once the PMI has processed the fee, you can schedule a date and time to take the exam.

4. Study for the exam

While you're waiting for the approval of your application, you can start studying for the exam. You can use the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide to refresh your memory on the information from the project management prerequisite course. You can also complete the three-hour practice exam from the course to help you prepare for the multiple-choice exam format.

5. Take the exam

You can take the exam online as soon as you receive approval from the PMI. You have up to three attempts per year to earn a passing grade. As soon as you pass the exam, the certification period begins.

6. Maintain your certification

After your certification period begins, it's a requirement to earn 15 projective development units every three years to maintain your certification. PDUs consist of one-hour blocks of time that you can earn in the education stream, which is mandatory, or the giving back stream, which is optional. You can earn as many educational development units as you like, which you can take by enrolling in another course or training program. The institute awards giving back units for working as a professional, volunteering, or mentoring. You can report your PDUs using the Continuing Education Requirements System on the PMI website.

Related: How to Write a Project Manager Cover Letter (With Example)

Benefits of earning CAPM certification

Here are some benefits of earning your certification:

  • Demonstrate your project management competence: The project management basics course and the entry-level examination verify that your credentials align with knowledge of industry-standard concepts and strategies. Obtaining the certification shows employers you understand important aspects of project management, including cost estimation, planning, execution, and evaluation.

  • Become a better leader: When you have the knowledge and practical understanding of how to solve problems when you encounter an issue on a project, you can execute your plan and delegate tasks confidently. Developing your leadership skills can allow you to establish a productive environment that delivers on quality expectations.

  • Comply with ethics and best practices: The certification demonstrates your understanding of how to execute a project vision using planned strategies while maintaining ethical conduct. Employers, clients, and colleagues can also trust your expertise and strategies for resolving conflicts efficiently and fairly.

  • Increase responsibilities and career advancement: Earning your CAPM certification can show employers you can handle more responsibility and manage a team as an effective leader. If you're interested in advancing in your career or applying to a new job, having the certification on your resume can show leadership and technical skills, even if you have little professional experience.

  • Increased salary expectations: Because the certification verifies your understanding of various roles and strategies for managing a project, you may increase your earning potential by including it on your resume. Companies often value an employer's ability to communicate using important project management terms to lead and function within a team environment.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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