Career DevelopmentTopics

Compare Project Management Certifications: A Complete Guide To Getting Certified

Want to get your work done faster?
Try Hive, the productivity platform for fast-moving teams.

Our friend and supporter

One of the questions we frequently get asked at the Digital Project Manager is “Is project management certification worth it? Will it actually help my career?”

Perhaps controversially for the DPM community,  I’m going to say, yes! Maybe that’s because we recently launched our very own online project management training course, but check out the article below to get the lowdown on all your options.

Want to know why? Interested in different project manager certification options? We have put together this handy guide to help you decide which certification best suits you, complete with the prerequisites and each project manager certification cost.

Keep reading to get the lowdown on certification in project management:

Why Project Management Certifications Matter

project-management-certificates-pm-certification

Like any certification or learning, a project management certification doesn’t mean you’re a good PM. What’s more, what you learn to gain the certification might not be directly applicable to the day to day job. And in some cases, it might actually be unhelpful – giving a false confidence in the way things should be done.  That’s typically why lots of digital project managers don’t have a lot of love for project certification. There’s some truth in it; if you were taught you have to project manage in a particular way, and that way in no way resembles the way projects are run in an agency, then isn’t it just a waste of time?

So what’s the point? You’re sure to learn a lot that you can apply to your job, and it doesn’t look bad on your resume either—at the very least it shows that you’re investing in your professional development.

Certainly, if you’re ever thinking of pursuing a project management role at a grown-up company (i.e., not an agency) they tend to take project management certification pretty seriously. Research shows that IT jobs increasingly require project management certification, and more and more CIOs believe in the importance of such certifications.

Another benefit of having a PM certification is a higher salary (to see how your salary stacks up against PMs around the world, see our project management Salary Guide).

The PMI’s Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap Report found that project managers with PMP certification had 23% higher median salaries than their non-certified peers (What does PMP certification stand for? It stands for Project Management Professional certification, and you can read more about it here).

So why do people care about project management certification? Yes, it’s just a bit of paper but without an ability to share the documentation we produce (non-disclosure and all that), it’s the closest thing we have to evidence that we know-how to plan, schedule, budget, execute, deliver and report on projects. Even if a certification does not necessarily make a person a better project manager, there is no denying the fact that the time invested in learning and improving project management knowledge is better than none at all.

What Are The Different Types Of Project Management Certifications?

We’re going to cover the details you need to know for some of the best programs currently available and explain how to get project management certification in each case.

Project Management Certifications:

  1. Mastering Digital Project Management
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
  3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  4. CompTIA Project+ Project Management Certification
  5. PRINCE2 Foundation & PRINCE2 Practitioner Project Management Certification
  6. Associate in Project Management (APM)
  7. Certified Project Director (CPD)
  8. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  9. Professional Scrum Master I, II & III

We summarize these programs in the table below, and you can read a more detailed description of each certification in the following sections.

Project Management Certifications - Summary

The Best Project Management Certification

Obviously, any form of project management certification is always a good idea and will benefit your career. But first consider the cost, the effort and the time involved in taking project management certification courses, it is important that it is actually relevant to you, right now. For instance, if you simply want to learn more about managing projects at your agency, consider other forms of learning – reading blog posts, going to Project Management Meetups, attending conferences, or simply taking your project management colleagues out for coffee.

All project management certifications, from PRINCE2 to PMP, are designed to give you a great grounding in the strategies and skills needed for project management success. The differences between courses are as much to do with methodology than basic skills, so whatever you choose it is unlikely you will be restricting your choice of employment in the future, as long as you stick with the bigger names—any one of the best project management certificate programs we’ve outlined below is a step in the right direction.

DPM School - Digital Project Management Training - Online course - Certificate

Difficulty:

60%

Total cost:
  • $950
Duration:
  • 7 weeks

Exam Required:
  • No

There are several online options available, including our very own Digital Project Manager School, which offers an online digital project management course that provides project management training to those who lead teams and deliver projects in a digital world. Taught by expert project managers, the course tailors an agile approach to digital projects, equipping participants to handle evolving requirements, manage communications and assess progress. This is one of the best certifications for project managers who are looking beyond quick certifications that pay well—who want practical, hands-on training that prepares you to run projects in the real world.

Here’s what one student had to say:

“The tutorials are jam packed with information, the webinars back up the theory with experiences from people who work in the industry and discussion on the slack channel was really valuable. Not only did I learn a huge amount from the course but it’s also given me the confidence I need to work as a DPM. I’d recommend this course to anyone wanting to work in the industry.”

Charlotte EverardProject Manager at Freestyle Interactive

With a flexible, year-round schedule, our Project Management certification online course is designed for a wide array of persons tasked with project management responsibilities – from newbies to professional project managers. It covers everything from how to successfully plan, run and control digital projects, to how to avoid costly pitfalls, and setting criteria for success that positively impact the bottom line. The Digital Project Management School certificate costs from $950 (we also offer an option without the certificate and assignments for $750).

How to get Mastering Digital Project Management certified:

Requirements:
  • Attend an online course, over 7 weeks.
  • Successfully submit weekly assignments.
  • There is no exam.
Price:
  • The course costs from $950
pmp-logo

Difficulty:

100%

Total cost:
  • ~$2,055
Duration:
  • 1 week

Exam Required:
  • Yes

2.   Project Management Professional (PMP)

The Project Management Professional certification (PMP) is arguably the most respected international certification in project management, with more than 750,000 PMP project managers currently certified.

The PMP is an all-encompassing test of the Project Management Institute’s(PMI) Project Management Book Of Knowledge (PMBOK) and ability in the management of the three project constraints; time, cost and scope. The certification is aimed at imparting comprehensive knowledge on how to adequately handle the project process from planning, scheduling, controlling, and monitoring to closing out the project.

Of all the project management certifications we’ve looked at, It’s certainly the hardest certifications to get – the prerequisite experience is laudable (but extensive), the application process is onerous, and the training and exam isn’t a cakewalk either.

How to get PMP project management professional certified:

Requirements:
  • Four-year degree and three years of project management experience, 4,500 hours leading or directing projects and 35 hours of project management classes OR a High School certificate with five years of project management experience, 7,500 hours leading or directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education
  • Pass the PMP exam – the certification exam has 200 multiple-choice questions, and you have four hours to complete it.
  • To maintain your PMP, you must earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years.
Price:
  • The PMP project management certification cost totals about $2000:
    • ~$1500 for a PMP project management course to prepare for the exams
    • $405-$555  for the exam. Members pay $405, Non-members pay $555 (the paper-based exam is $250-$400).
CAPM logo - project management certification guide

Difficulty: