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Three In-Demand Project Management Certifications for Immediate Career Growth

Certification Candidate Frederick MD

What are the three most in-demand project management certifications for immediate career growth? Where is the best places to earn these certifications?

In this post we will explore the various certifications related to project management, the qualifications, costs, and best place to learn the material in order to sit for the examination.

Why Earn a Project Management Certification?

Project Management Career Growth

It is no secret that project management positions continue to grow in popularity. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), there are currently more openings for project managers than there are people to fill these critical roles.

From now until 2027, the profession will grow a whopping 33% worldwide in countries like the United States, India, China, as well as other major or growing economies. Without people to fill these roles, hundreds of billions in world gross domestic product growth will suffer.

What is the salary range for a certified project manager?

The pay for certified project managers are an average of 20% higher than those project managers without certification. These positions often lead to six figure salaries with Australia currently topping the list for pay at over $130,000 per year.

In the United States, entry level project managers earn an average of over $72,000 per year. A certified Project Management Professional (PMP) in the United States has a ten-year mean salary of over $113,000.

And while a bachelors degree is optimal, many of the below certifications do not require a college degree.

View “Veterans, Your G.I. Bill May Pay for Your Examination Cost!

Types of project management certifications and how to earn one

PMP LogoProject Management Professional (PMP)

Considered the gold standard project management certification world wide, the PMP is a certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI). Go to any job board and type in “PMP” and you will find a host of top-paying positions for those with this certification.

While mostly in the IT field, more and more healthcare or pharmaceutical companies, construction companies, etc. are demanding that candidates have this premier certification.

And who is to blame them? Each minute, millions of dollars are wasted in the business world due to poorly planned and executed projects.

What are the qualifications for the PMP certification?

In order to earn the PMP, a candidate must meet certain educational and experience criteria. For those with a bachelors level degree or higher, a candidate must have 4,500 hours of experience leading or directing a project.

The good news is that many professionals may have hundreds, or even thousands of hours leading and directing a project without even knowing it under a different title than “project manager”. Read “Am I a Project Manager and May Not Know It”.

For those with less than a four-year degree, an applicant will have to show 7,500 hours of leading or directing a project. Keep in mind, leading or directing a project is very subjective. This could be being managing one aspect of a project.

Regardless of education, a candidate will need 35 contact hours of project management specific education. Even if you feel that you earned this education in college or by other means, we recommend everyone take a PMP exam boot camp type course prior to sitting for the exam.

Read “What Type of Project Management Training is Best for the PMP”

How much does the PMP examination cost?

The cost of the PMP examination depends on if one is a member of PMI or not. Since the savings for the exam more than covers the first year cost of PMI membership, we would be foolish not to suggest paying for at least one year of membership to PMI for all of its other benefits.

For members of PMI, the examination cost is $405 for the vast majority of test takers who must take the examination at a test center. For those that do not purchase a PMI membership for $139, then the cost is $555 to sit for the examination.

What is the best PMP certification prep boot camp?

If you are in the Washington D.C. metro area, we recommend taking your PMP certification prep training at PMCertDC. PMCertDC is a woman owned, veteran owned, and teaches from the top curriculum in the industry. All live courses are able to be attended via online training anywhere in the world as well.

View Upcoming In-Class or Online PMP Courses from PMCertDC

If you are not in the Washington D.C., Frederick, Maryland, or Northern Virginia region, we recommend taking our live online courses. Online courses are taught at the same time and in conjunction with in-class students. This is the only way we recommend virtual learning so you can interact with other students in a live environment.

Read “8 Red Flags to Watch For When Choosing a PMP Prep Course”

CAPM LogoCertified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Also from PMI, this certification is the gold standard certification for those entry or mid level project managers that are not yet qualified for the PMP.

What are the qualifications for the CAPM certification?

In order to sit for the CAPM examination, one only needs a high school diploma and 23 hours of direct project management education. These 23 hours are normally attained via college education or a PMP boot camp.

Why? PMP boot camps such as those offered here more than cover the knowledge needed to pass the CAPM (as it is build for the similar, yet tougher PMP exam).

The examination is multiple choice and can now be completed online via a proctoring site. Although you may go to a testing center, this is no longer the only option.

How much does the CAPM examination cost?

The exam cost for a PMI member is $225 and the cost for a non-member is only $300. There are many benefits to joining PMI. But doing so is $139 and unlike the PMP exam, it will not pay for itself in cost savings for the exam.

What is the best CAPM certification prep boot camp?

By far, the best online and in-class CAPM boot camp is taking the PMP boot camp from PMCertDC. You can attend the PMCertDC prep courses in-class if you are in the Washington D.C. metro area as they have offices in Tysons, VA and Urbana, MD. You can attend the online course anywhere in the world. View course here!

Also read “How Much Should PMP Certification Boot Camp Cost?”

 PMI-ACP LogoPMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner)

With the rise of Agile methodologies, PMI (the owner of the PMP and CAPM above) has created the PMI-ACP. Recognizing that “Waterfall” project management is not the only type of project management, combined with the growth of Scrum, Kanban, Lean etc., PMI created this certification for those who practice project management in a more adaptive or Agile environment. Currently, this is the fastest growing certification in project management.

Also read “With the Growth of Agile, is Waterfall Dead?

What are the qualifications for the PMI-ACP?

A current PMP or 2,000 hours of general project management experience. In addition to the PMP or 2,000 hours of general project management experience, you must have 1,500 hours of working in agile methodologies (there are many types that qualify). You must also have 21 contact hours of agile training. While these contact hours can come from many places, it is advised to take a PMI-ACP boot camp to ensure you have the correct knowledge tailored for PMI’s examination.

How much does the PMI-ACP examination cost?

As with all PMI certifications, there are two prices. One price for members and one price for non-members. The cost for a PMI member is $435 and the cost for a non-member is $495.

What is the best PMI-ACP certification prep boot camp?

PMCertDC does not yet offer this certification training. It will be coming soon. In the meantime, ensure that you choose a local provider and preferably take an in-person class. Keep checking back periodically to see if PMcertDC is offering the PMI-ACP course.

What other courses can you recommend?

For project managers and aspiring project managers, the three courses above are definitely foundational. In other words, before you gain other certifications as a project manager, we recommend earning your CAPM (if entry level), then moving to the PMP, and then adding PMI-ACP to round your certification list out.

After these three, we definitely recommend that you consider the following to further enhance your resume:

Closing thoughts

While there are many other certifying bodies that have their own project management certifications, be wary of the recognition of these. PMI, and for Scrum- the Scrum Alliance, are the most recognized bodies for their disciplines.

Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP is the co-owner and founder of PMCertDC – Washington D.C.’s metro area premier project management boot camp provider. With our primary location in Tysons, Virginia, we hold classes throughout the Washington D.C. metro area and anywhere online.

We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business with a huge impact on the project management world. Visit us at https://pmcertdc.com

Read why PMCertDC is awesome here!

PMCertDC PMP Instruction in Action
Nathan J. Kerr, MS, PMP teaching PMP to students.


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