7-best-project-management-certifications-updated-for-2020

14 of the Best Project Management Certifications

Qualified project managers are in high demand in every industry and location. As technology and organizations become more complex, it is increasingly evident how crucial project managers are to the success of ongoing projects and new opportunities. If you are looking to take your career to the next level, pursuing a certification in project management may be the best decision you make.

7 of the Best Secrets to Passing the PMP Certification Exam

Why Project Management Certifications are Important

One of the best ways to stay at the forefront of the project management industry and demonstrate your abilities to employers, clients, and fellow project managers is to earn project management certifications relevant to your role and industry. These certifications equip project managers to handle diverse challenges and improve organizational efficiency.

Benefits of Having a Project Management Certification

Reason #1: Get Recognition

As the project management industry continues to develop and enhance methodologies, it is critical to pursue continuous learning. Earning and maintaining certifications shows you are recognized within the industry or around the globe as an accredited project manager who can handle any tasks within a project’s life cycle. Having your skills recognized can also boost your career prospects.

Reason #2: Increase Your Salary

Having a project management certification can literally pay off. Currently, the median salary for project managers in the US is around $115,761 across all industries. The Twelfth Edition of PMI’s “Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey” reported those with a PMP certification had a 16% higher median salary than those without a PMP certification.

This PMI resource on project management earning power also reported that nearly a quarter of respondents reported a salary increase of at least 5% over the last 12 months. Your earning potential grows with each year of experience gained and may vary by industry.

Are you curious about comparing project manager salaries and the career potential of this rapidly growing industry? Learn more in this PMI resource on project management between 2010 to 2020.

Reason #3: Boost Your Skills

Project management certifications typically come with prerequisites such as professional experience, hours of education, successful course completion, and more. Experience, education, and training courses help you develop your project management knowledge and improve your ability to plan, schedule, budget, execute, deliver, and report on initiatives.

Reason #4: Network with Professionals

As you earn project management certifications, you will have the opportunity to join exclusive professional networks and participate in a worldwide community of project managers. This diverse global network is an invaluable professional resource, helping you stay competitive as the project management industry grows and changes.

14 of the Best Project Management Certifications

You have many options to choose from if you want to demonstrate your abilities and qualifications by earning a project management certification. In fact, there are so many choices it can be a challenge to decide which one is right for you. Keep these factors in mind:

  • Your educational background
  • Your professional experience
  • What kind of project manager you are or plan to be
  • The skills you want to learn or demonstrate
  • Your industry or location

Many of the certifications listed below are offered through the Project Management Institute (PMI), a giant in the project management industry. If you become a PMI member, you can access benefits such as exam fee discounts, free resources, and the opportunity to join local member chapters. A PMI membership costs $129 per year, with a one-time $10 application fee.

You will have flexible learning options, including live classroom training, virtual learning, on-demand video instruction, and more. Learn about 14 of the best project management certifications below, including the best online project management certificate programs.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Prep

The PMP certification is one of the best-known project management accreditations. Often called the “gold standard” in the project management industry, a PMP certification is a highly sought-after endorsement of your skills and expertise across predictive, agile, and hybrid methodologies.

Prerequisites

Since the PMP certification is so well-regarded, the prerequisites can be challenging to meet. You need to meet one of the following sets of requirements:

  • If you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 36 months of professional experience leading projects in the last 8 years
    • 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certificate
  • If you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 60 months of professional experience leading projects in the last 8 years
    • 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certificate

You can achieve your 35 hours of project management education through a PMI-approved certification training course. Project Management Academy offers both online and in-person courses for your convenience. Our PMP training course is one of the best project management exam prep programs available.

Cost for Certification

The PMP Exam fee is $405 for members or $555 for non-members. It costs $139 to become a PMI member for the first time, which means the combined cost of becoming a member and taking the PMP Exam is less than the cost of taking the exam as a non-member. As a member, you will receive a wealth of free project management resources through PMI.

Length of Program

The PMP Exam is challenging, and you cannot sign up for an exam time without first meeting PMI’s prerequisites, having your exam application approved, and paying the exam fee. Learn more in our guide to the PMP certification process.

Some people may only need a month to prepare for the PMP Exam, while others may require six months or more to meet the prerequisites and study. It will help to take a PMP certification training boot camp course through a PMI Authorized Training Partner (ATP) such as Project Management Academy. You can choose from five different session options for your training course:

  • Four consecutive days (9 hours each)
  • Two consecutive weekends (9 hours per day)
  • 8 morning sessions (4.5 hours per session)
  • 8 afternoon sessions (4.5 hours per session)
  • 8 evening sessions (4.5 hours per session)

The actual PMP Exam is 230 minutes long and consists of 180 questions. Read about what to expect from the PMP Exam and your Pearson VUE testing center in our comprehensive guide.

Studying for the PMP Exam?


Certified Practitioner in Project Management (CAPM)® Exam Prep

If you don’t meet the strict requirements to be eligible for the PMP certification, you may want to consider PMI’s CAPM® designation instead. The CAPM certification is still a highly respected, globally recognized accreditation from PMI. It is considered a stepping-stone to earning your PMP certificate.

The CAPM may be the right choice for you if you plan to eventually gain the PMP certification, want to add project management skills to your current resume or want to manage larger projects and take on more responsibility.

Prerequisites

As an entry-level certificate, CAPM exam prerequisites are easier to meet than PMP exam prerequisites. You need to have the following to qualify for the CAPM exam:

  • A high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent
  • 23 hours of project management education

Our CAPM Certification Training course fulfills the project management education requirement.

Cost for Certification

The CAPM exam fee is $225 for PMI members and $300 for non-members.

Length of Program

As with the PMP exam, your unique path to certification will look different depending on your existing knowledge and experience. You can spread out your 23 hours of required education with the following Project Management Academy CAPM course options:

  • 3 days of virtual classroom learning with a live instructor
  • Self-paced, on-demand, video learning
  • In-house course delivery if you have ten or more employees seeking certification

The CAPM exam contains 150 questions and takes place over 180 minutes. Compare the CAPM and PMP Certifications to better understand which project management certificate is right for you.

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® Exam Prep

Risk management is a crucial skill for organizations in every industry. Project managers with the PMI-RMP® certification demonstrate an ability to identify project risks, assess threat levels, and mitigate hazards. These skills can help you protect your organization, reduce the waste of time and money, and capitalize on opportunities.

Prerequisites

To qualify for the PMI-RMP Exam, you need to meet one of the following sets of requirements:

  • If you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 36 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years
    • 40 hours of project risk management education
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 24 months of project risk management experience within the last 5 years
    • 30 hours of project risk management education

Cost for Certification

The PMI-RMP Exam fee is $520 for members and $670 for non-members. Currently, PMI is offering a discount to participants who are willing to participate in the pilot of their updates to the exam:

  • 50% rebate of the exam fee
  • One free retake (if needed)

Learn more about this temporary offer from PMI.

Length of Program

Project Management Academy offers an 8-hour PMI-RMP exam prep training course. When paired with your prior Project Management Professional training, this instructor-led course helps prepare you to pass the PMI-RMP Exam on your first attempt.

The PMI-RMP certification exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. You will have 3.5 hours to complete the exam.

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® Exam Prep

Project scheduling is crucial to managing project activities, resources, deadlines, and deliverables. Expert management of project schedules requires the use of tools, technology, and more to complete projects on time and within budget. The PMI-SP® certification is evidence of your capability in managing project schedules.

Prerequisites

To earn the PMI-SP certificate, you need to meet one of the following sets of prerequisites:

  • If you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 40 months of project scheduling experience within the last 5 years
    • 40 hours of project scheduling education
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you also need…
    • 24 months of project scheduling experience within the last 5 years
    • 30 hours of project scheduling education

Cost for Certification

The PMI-SP Exam fee costs $520 for PMI members and $670 for non-members.

Length of Program

Project Management Academy offers a self-paced PMI-SP exam prep course consisting of the following:

  • 2 hours of pre-recorded video lectures
  • A realistic mock exam
  • Network diagram exercises
  • Flashcard exercises
  • Digital copies of all course materials

This course has a PMI-approved Professional Development Unit (PDU) value of 8 hours. Since it’s a self-paced course, you can take as much time you need to prepare for the PMI-SP Exam.

PMI Agile Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam Prep

Agile project management is characterized by the ability to adjust and respond quickly to changing circumstances and needs. The concept of “agility” in business and project management is relatively modern. A PMI-ACP® certification allows you to demonstrate your adaptability and resourcefulness in a rapidly and constantly changing project environment.

Prerequisites

The PMI-ACP certification is an advanced-tier accreditation. To qualify for the PMI-ACP exam, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • A secondary degree: a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile project management practices
  • 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years. You can also meet this requirement with a current PMP or PgMP certificate.
  • 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years

Cost for Certification

The PMI-ACP Exam fee costs $435 for PMI members and $495 for non-members.

Length of Program

You have multiple options for your Project Management Academy PMI-ACP exam prep program, but all of them come with six months of digital access to all training materials so you can pace your progress towards the PMI-ACP exam according to your needs.

Your completely self-paced option comes with approximately 21 hours of materials for you to go through on your schedule. Otherwise, you can attend 2 days of instructor-led training virtually, live in our classrooms, or through in-house group training if you have ten or more employees seeking certification.

Disciplined Agile Scrum Master (DASM) Certification Training

Earning a DASM Certification through PMI equips you to successfully lead agile teams using proven project management practices such as Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and more. Demonstrate your ability to stay at the forefront of modern agile project management practices and learn how to apply the agile project management methodology in real-world project management.

Prerequisites

None! The DASM certification is designed to accommodate people who are completely new to Agile. Rather than meeting a list of prerequisites, focus your efforts on familiarizing yourself with agile practices by taking a course through PMI or an ATP.

Cost for Certification

The DASM Exam fee is covered in the tuition fees for DASM Certification Training Courses through PMI or ATPs such as Project Management Academy.

Length of Program

Your instructor-led Project Management Academy DASM Certification course is available in a virtual classroom format or in-house delivery if you have 10 or more employees seeking certification. The program runs for two days and qualifies for 14 PDUs or contact hours.

Once you complete the program, you will receive an invitation to sit for the DASM Exam. The DASM Exam is an online test consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions. You will have 30 minutes to go through the exam introduction and tutorial, then up to 90 minutes to complete the exam.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) Certification Training

The CSM certification is a competitive accreditation in the Scrum methodology offered through the Scrum Alliance. The Scrum methodology is a framework within agile project management that emphasizes cross-functional team collaboration, continuous improvement, rapid incorporation of feedback, and accelerated delivery of products and services.

Earning a CSM certificate is a great stepping-stone to more advanced Scrum certifications.

Prerequisites

Earn 16 Scrum Education Units (SEUs) through the Scrum Alliance or Certified Scrum Trainer partners such as Project Management Academy. Earning your CSM certificate is the first step to more advanced Scrum certifications.

Cost for Certification

The CSM Exam fee is covered in the tuition fees for CSM Training Courses through the Scrum Alliance or Certified Scrum Trainers such as the Project Management Academy instructors. Training courses also come with a two-year membership in the Scrum Alliance, giving you access to valuable, exclusive CSM materials and resources.

Length of Program

CSM Training Courses consist of two days of CSM training. These courses count as 16 SEUs for the CSM Exam and 14 PDUs to meet PMI continuing education requirements.

Once you have completed your training course, you will be invited to activate your Scrum Alliance certification account and schedule the CSM Test. To pass the CSM Test, you must correctly answer 37 out of 50 questions within an hour-long time limit.

Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) Certification Training

The A-CSM Certification is another accreditation by the Scrum Alliance. This certification is the next step in your Agile project management journey. Earning this certification verifies you have learned to scale your Scrum skills to facilitate better communication, increase engagement, manage multiple project teams, and implement Scrum values, practices, and applications.

Prerequisites

To qualify for the A-CSM certification, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have an active CSM certification
  • Earn 16 SEUs by completing an approved A-CSM certification prep course
  • Document at least 12 months of Scrum Master professional experience within the past 5 years
  • Accept the A-CSM License Agreement

You can earn the required SEUs easily through the Project Management Academy A-CSM Certification Prep Course.

Cost for Certification

There is no A-CSM certification exam, so the cost for certification is simply the cost of your Scrum Alliance-approved training.

Length of Program

The Project Management Academy A-CSM training program takes place over 2 days and counts as 16 SEUs and 14 PDUs. You can take the A-CSM course anytime after completing your CSM certification. You will receive your certification after completing the course and documenting at least 12 months of Scrum Master professional experience.

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) Certification Training

The Scrum Alliance offers the CSPO certification to individuals who wish to take on the responsibilities of product owners on agile teams. Product owners have the unique role of choosing the next project opportunity for the team. Deciding what to produce next requires a deep understanding of customer wants, stakeholder needs, market value, and more.

Prerequisites

To qualify for the CSPO certification, you must earn 16 SEUs by successfully completing a CSPO training course led by a Scrum Alliance approved instructor.

Cost for Certification

There is no CSPO certification exam. All you must pay for certification is the tuition fee for your Scrum Alliance-approved training course.

Length of Program

Project Management Academy offers a two-day CSPO training program in multiple formats:

  • Live classroom training
  • Virtual learning with a live instructor
  • Hybrid training with a live instructor in-classroom and a workshop hosted virtually
  • In-house group training if you have ten or more employees seeking CSPO certification

This course counts as 16 SEUs and 16 PDUs. After you have successfully completed the course, simply activate your CSPO license through the Scrum Alliance.

Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) Cert Training

Your next step after earning your CSPO certification is to achieve your A-CSPO certification. This accreditation through the Scrum Alliance will advance your skills as a product owner on an agile team and increase your credibility in the industry.

Prerequisites

You need your CSPO certificate to qualify for A-CSPO certification. You also need to successfully complete an approved A-CSPO educational program worth 16 SEUs and have proof of at least 12 months of Product Owner professional experience within the last 5 years.

Cost for Certification

There is no A-CSPO certification exam, so the only cost is the tuition fee for your Scrum Alliance-approved A-CSPO certification course.

Length of Program

The Project Management Academy A-CSPO certification course consists of two days of A-CSPO training led by a Certified Scrum Trainer. Available format options include live classroom training, web-based learning with a live instructor, hybrid learning, and in-house group training if you have ten or more employees seeking A-CSPO training.

Agile Change Agent Certification Training

The Agile Project Management Group International (APMG International) is a world-leading accreditation institute. Their Agile Change Agent certification is designed to equip participants with agile skills and change management techniques. If you are interested in planning, managing, and creating innovative ways to work, this certification is an excellent opportunity for you.

Prerequisites

This certification is an entry-level accreditation, so you don’t need any prior professional or education experience. Instead, you will need to successfully earn 14 Continuing Development Units (CDUs) by taking a course with an approved training provider.

Cost for Certification

If you enroll in the Project Management Academy Agile Change Agent certification training course, you will receive a link to the certification exam for no additional fee. You should take the exam within two weeks of successfully completing the program.

Length of Program

Our Agile Change Agent certification training course is a two-day workshop delivered through a mixture of virtual instructor-led discussions, group exercises, and individual practice. The Agile Change Agent exam is a 50-question, multiple-choice, closed-book exam. You will have 40 minutes to take the exam and need to answer at least 25 questions correctly to pass.

Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP®)

The CBAP certification is offered through the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) and demonstrates the certificate holder’s competency as a business analysis professional. According to the IIBA, CBAP certificate holders earn up to 13% more compared to non-certified professionals.

Prerequisites

To earn the CBAP certification, you must meet the following CBAP certification requirements:

  • Document at least 7,500 hours of Business Analysis experience within the last 10 years
    • At least 3,600 of these hours must be completed in 4 out of 6 Knowledge Areas outlined in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) – at least 900 hours per knowledge area.
  • Document a minimum of 35 hours of professional development within the last 4 years
  • Provide two references

If you meet all these requirements, you are eligible to take the CBAP Exam, which consists of 120 multiple-choice questions. You must pass this 3.5-hour exam to earn your CBAP designation.

Cost for Certification

There is a $125 application fee to create your CBAP application and verify you meet the exam prerequisites. Once your application gets approved, you are eligible to sit for the CBAP Exam. The exam fee costs $325 per attempt.

Length of Program

The Project Management Academy CBAP Certification training course consists of 35 hours of business analysis education. This course is available in the following options:

  • Four consecutive 9-hour days of live classroom instruction or virtual instructor-led training
  • Eight half-day sessions of live classroom instruction or virtual instructor-led training
  • Self-paced video instruction on demand
  • In-house training if you have ten or more employees seeking certification

All these options come with a 90-day subscription to Watermark Learning’s CBAP Online Study Exam Simulator, which comes with over 1,200 randomized questions and detailed explanations.

Certification of Capability in Business Analysis™ (CCBA®)

A CCBA Certification is a business analysis credential that demonstrates your ability to take on greater responsibility in a business analysis role. The CCBA is a great certification for business analysis professionals who want to show off their expertise in managing larger and more complex project responsibilities.  

Prerequisites

Before you apply to take the CCBA Exam, you need the following:

  • Document at least 3,750 hours of Business Analysis experience within the last 7 years
    • At least 1,800 of these hours must be completed in 2 out of 6 Knowledge Areas outlined in the BABOK – at least 900 hours per knowledge area.
    • OR, at least 2,000 of these hours must be completed in 4 out of 6 BABOK Knowledge Areas – at least 500 hours per knowledge area.
  • Document a minimum of 21 hours of professional development within the last 4 years
  • Provide references

If you meet all these requirements, you are eligible to take the CCBA Exam, which consists of 130 multiple-choice questions. You must pass this 3-hour exam to earn your CCBA designation.

Cost for Certification

The CCBA exam application costs $125. Once your prerequisites are verified and your application is approved, you are eligible to take the CCBA Exam for $325 per attempt.

Length of Program

Project Management Academy offers a CCBA certification training course in multiple flexible options:

  • Four consecutive 9-hour days of live classroom instruction or virtual instructor-led training
  • Eight half-day sessions of live classroom instruction or virtual instructor-led training
  • Self-paced video instruction on demand
  • In-house training if you have ten or more employees seeking certification

This program adds up to 35 professional development hours of business analysis education and comes with 90-day access to Watermark Learning’s CCBA Online Study Exam Simulator.

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® Exam Prep

Another business analysis certification is the PMI-PBA®, which is offered through the Project Management Institute. Competency in business analysis is crucial to effective project management, and certification through such a renowned institution as PMI will help demonstrate your professional qualifications.

Prerequisites

PMI offers two options for PMI-PBA exam prerequisites:

  • If you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent, you also need:
    • 60 months of business analysis professional experience within the last 8 years
    • 35 contact hours of business analysis education
  • If you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you also need:
    • 36 months of business analysis professional experience
    • 35 contact hours of education in business analysis

If you meet these requirements, you will be eligible to apply for the PMI-PBA exam.

Cost for Certification

The PMI-PBA Exam fee costs $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members.

Length of Program

Project Management Academy’s PMI-PBA certification boot camp is available in the following formats:

  • Four consecutive days of virtual classroom instruction with a live instructor (9 hours per day)
  • Four consecutive days of in-house training if you have ten or more employees seeking certification (9 hours per day)
  • Self-paced learning through on-demand video instruction with email access to a qualified instructor, practice question drills, and practice exams

This program meets the PMI requirement of 35 contact hours of business analysis education. The PMI-PBA exam is four hours long and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions.

Which Project Management Certification is Right for You?

With so many project management certifications to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which one to pursue next. There is no single right answer to this question, but it will help to start by looking at your qualifications and career goals. For example:

  • Do you meet the prerequisites for advanced certifications such as the PMP? If the answer is no, consider a more entry-level credential such as the CAPM.
  • Do you want to improve your skills in a specific project management area, such as mastering the Scrum methodology, learning to improve quality management, or acquiring business management skills? Some of the certifications on this list can help with these specific aspirations.
  • Do you have schedule restrictions that make online or self-paced learning necessary? Many of the best online project management certificate programs are also among the most highly valued credentials on this list.

Any of the certifications on this list are among the best project management certifications available to you. Pursuing one of them can help boost your earning potential, increase your skillset and capability, and do much more to help you advance your project management career. Do you have any other questions? Are you having trouble deciding on a certification to pursue? Contact your Project Management Academy experts.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at | + posts
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO