5 Important Certifications for Project Managers

Important Certifications for Project Managers

Did you know that there are more than 50 Project Management certifications you could test for?  And this doesn't even include certifications you could earn from a college or university.

That's a lot!

Luckily, you don't need to test for all of them.  Selecting the one or two most important certifications for Project Managers in your domain and for your experience level is sufficient.

This is a good thing because if you're like most Project Managers, you're super busy.  You don't have time to waste preparing for a Project Management certification that isn't going to help your career.

What is a Project Management Certification?

It's important to remember that the purpose of a Project Management certification is to validate your competence to perform the role of a Project Manager.

Project Management organizations like the Project Management Institute (USA), the International Project Management Association (Netherlands), and the ScrumAlliance (USA) publish Project Management standards based on best practices.

These organizations will then certify the experience and knowledge an applicant has against their standards.  those that pass the exams are then certified Project Managers.

Why is Project Management Certification Important?

As a Project Manager, earning a certification has several advantages...

First, for Project Manager positions in large companies, a certification is usually required to even get an interview.

Second, salary surveys have shown that certified Project Managers make more money than their non-certified colleagues.

Third, earning a Project Management certification ensures that you have a thorough understanding of all the functions and responsibilities of managing and leading projects.  Understanding this basic framework positions you for success as a Project Manager.

As you can see, earning a Project Management certification can help you advance in your career.

Five Important Certifications for Project Managers

Here are five of the most important Project Management certifications for you to consider...


I may receive a commission if you purchase a training program using some of the links on this page.

  1. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
  3. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  4. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  5. CompTIA Project+

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Issued By:  Project Management Institute (PMI)

Description:  The CAPM certification recognizes those who are starting a career in Project Management as well as those who want to demonstrate their Project Management knowledge.  This certification denotes that the holder understands the principles and terminology defined in PMI's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).

Experience:  Entry Level



  • $225 (PMI Members)
  • $300 (non-PMI Members)

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Issued By:  Project Management Institute (PMI)

Description:  The PMP certification is the most widely recognized Project Management certification in the world.  It demonstrates to employers, clients and colleagues that the holder has the necessary Project Management knowledge, experience and skills to successfully manage projects.

Experience:  Advanced


  • Option 1
    • 4-Year degree
    • 36 months leading projects
    • 35 hours of Project Management education or training
  • Option 2
    • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree or the global equivalent)
    • 60 months leading projects
    • 35 hours of Project Management education or training
  • Pass a 200 question exam within a 4 hour time period


  • $405 (PMI member)
  • $555 (non-PMI member)

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

Issued By:  Project Management Institute (PMI)

Description:  The PMI-ACP certification recognizes the holder's knowledge of agile principles and their skill with agile techniques.  This is PMI's fastest growing certification as more companies begin to utilize agile approaches with their projects.

Experience:  Advanced


  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree or the global equivalent)
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices
  • 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years.  A current PMP or PgMP certification will satisfy this requirement.
  • 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years.
  • Pass a 120 question exam within a 3 hour time period


  • $435 (PMI Members)
  • $495 (non-PMI Members)

Certified Scrummaster (csM)

Issued By:  ScrumAlliance

Description:  The CSM certification demonstrates that you understand the Scrum framework, including its roles, events, and artifacts.  This certification is a good introduction to managing agile software development projects.

Experience:  Entry Level


  • Attend a face-to-face course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) or receive private coaching from a Certified Agile Coach (CAC)
  • Complete 14 hours of live online or 16 hours of in-person training with your CST, or 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with your CAC.
  • Pass a 50 question exam within a 60 minute time period

Costs:  $600 - $1000 for training and the exam

CompTIA Project+

Issued By:  CompTIA

Description:  The CompTIA Project+ certification is ideal for those that manage smaller, less complex projects as part of their jobs and need to have an understanding of Project Management fundamentals.

Experience:  Entry Level


  • 12 months of Project Management experience is recommended
  • Pass a 95 question exam within a 90 minute time period

Costs:  $329

Project Management Certification Road Map

Depending on how much experience you have and which domain you work in, here is a simple two-step certification road map you can consider if you have less experience managing projects.  If you have over 2 years experience as a Project Manager, you can go directly to Step 2.

General Project Management

Step 1:  CAPM certification

Step 2:  PMP certification

Agile Project Management

Step 1:  CSM certification

Step 2:  PMI-ACP certification

IT Project Management

Step 1:  CompTIA Project+ certification

Step 2:  PMP certification

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