No matter how small, where it’s located or what industry it serves, every business needs to rely on project management to be successful. Without effective project managers, a company would have difficulty delivering new products and services to customers, growing revenue and meeting other critical business objectives.

Besides earning a degree, an aspiring or current project management professional can also enroll in courses and earn certifications in project management to go the extra mile. Knowing which certificates are worth the time, energy and money can be challenging with so many choices.

Continue reading to learn about project management certifications and how they could benefit someone looking to increase their knowledge, improve their skills and land a project management position.

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Why earn a project management certification?

Project management skills can help job seekers improve their marketability and show potential employers what value they can bring to an organization. Projects are getting more complex and resource intensive, meaning employers need to invest in a solid project manager with expertise and project management skills to get the job done.

Project managers are in demand in virtually every industry, from construction to advertising and everything in between. When a hiring manager or recruiter parses through thousands of resumes, those with a project management certification may rank higher, meaning that those candidates would have a higher chance of being hired at an organization. While this isn’t a guarantee, it’s commonly understood that earning this type of certification can increase an applicant’s value and help a project manager get hired faster.

A project management certification can also help you command a higher salary: A Project Management Institute survey found that U.S. project managers who earned a Project Management Professional certification reported 32% higher salaries than those who didn’t. While they do require an upfront investment in terms of time and money, for many project managers, getting a certification pays dividends down the road.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

Best project management certifications

For those interested in receiving a project management certification, it’s worth researching which one will help improve their skills, build their knowledge and potentially advance their career. Below are some of the best project management certifications to consider.

PMP certification

In simple terms, the Project Management Professional certification is the most recognized in the project management industry. It’s considered the “gold standard” for project management and more than 1,200,000 professionals hold a PMP certification worldwide. Top-performing companies like ExxonMobil, Apple, Exelon and SAIC often hire project managers with a PMP certification. Those who earn this certification can typically work in any industry, use any methodology and succeed in various situations.

There are helpful online training courses available for professionals who want to sit for the PMP exam and earn the certification, but the training courses aren’t included in the cost of the exam. Giving the length and breadth of the exam, studying before is strongly encouraged.

The PMI PMP logo.
PMI PMP logo


You must either have a four-year degree and 36 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years or a high school diploma or Associates Degree and 60 months of experience leading projects within the past eight years. You must also have 35 hours of project management education/training or Certified Associate in Project Management certification (CAPM®).

Key skills tested

  • Demonstrating the skills to lead and motivate a project team
  • Showing how the success of a project impacts overall strategic goals
  • Choosing whether a predictive, agile or hybrid approach will work best for a particular project

Key differentiators

  • Top ranked project management certification that is recognized globally
  • Excellent choice for experienced project managers who want a certification
  • Can be used with many different project management methodologies

Duration of exam

The exam contains 180 questions and has a time limit of 230 minutes.

Cost of exam

The PMP exam costs $405 for members and $575 for nonmembers.

CAPM certification

If you don’t have enough experience to sit for the PMP, the CAPM certification is a more suitable option for those early in their professional project management career. The CAPM certification demonstrates that an entry-level project manager has a strong foundation in project management and can help young professionals become more marketable to potential employers.

Before earning the PMP certification, many novice project managers will need to complete training and receive the CAPM certification. Earning the CAPM certification is easier as it has fewer requirements than the PMP, only mandating 23 hours of project management education.

The PMI CAPM logo.


You must have a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, GED (general educational development) or global equivalent. You must also have at least 23 contact hours of project management education completed before the exam, which can be fulfilled by taking a course from PMI or another organization.

Key skills tested

  • Fundamentals of project management and the role of project managers
  • Project management environment and project integration management
  • Project scope, schedule, cost, quality and resource management
  • Project procurement, communication, stakeholder and risk management

Key differentiators

  • More suitable for early career professionals than the PMP exam
  • Training education is required but not included in exam price
  • Covers the fundamentals of project management, not tied to a specific methodology

Duration of exam

The exam contains 150 questions and has a time limit of three hours.

Cost of exam

The CAPM exam costs $225 for members and $300 for nonmembers. The exam cost is separate from any training courses that you pay for.

DOWNLOAD: The TechRepublic project management checklist

PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner certification

The PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner certifications are two other highly sought-after certifications for project managers. Government agencies and organizations often look for candidates with these certifications, which are delivered by AXELOS, a joint venture between the U.K. government and Capita.

These certifications can help professionals improve their skills and capabilities. They both focus on managing a project from the start (initiation) to finish (delivery). The PRINCE2 Foundation is a more basic certification and the PRINCE2 Practitioner is more advanced. Many people choose to earn the Foundation certification first and then later go on to get the Practitioner certification.

The PRINCE2 logo.
PRINCE2 logo


There are no prerequisites for the PRINCE2 Foundation exam besides completing the accompanying course. In order to take the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam, you must provide proof of a current certification from the following list:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation (5th Edition or 6th Edition version)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • IPMA Level A (Certified Projects Director)
  • IPMA Level B (Certified Senior Project Manager)
  • IPMA Level C (Certified Project Manager)
  • IPMA Level D (Certified Project Management Associate)

Key skills tested

  • Understanding of PRINCE2 principles, methods and themes and how they are applied throughout the project
  • Applying and tailoring relevant aspects of PRINCE2 in context

Key differentiators

  • PRINCE2-specific training and testing
  • Training courses included in the price of both certifications
  • Available in self-guided online, virtual classroom and physical classroom formats

Duration of exam

The PRINCE2 Foundation exam contains 60 questions and lasts 60 minutes. The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam contains 68 questions and lasts 150 minutes.

Cost of exam

The PRINCE2 Foundation course and exam starts at $1,116, and the PRINCE2 Practitioner course and exam starts at $1,176. This includes the price of the exam and access to the virtual training courses and resources for 12 months.

IAPM certification

The Certified Agile Project Manager certification is offered by the International Association of Project Managers. The IAPM recommends enrolling in online Agile courses, reading relevant literature and spending time researching some major topics. Scrum roles, product backlog, team building, conflict management and project environment are some examples of relevant topics for this certification.

This certification is best suited for managers looking to enhance their skills and grow their knowledge, specifically in Agile project management. IAPM provides access to a web learning platform that you can use to prepare for the exam.


You need to have a basic understanding of Agile, but no specific amount of project experience is required for this certification.

Key skills tested

  • Scrum roles, scrum charts and daily scrum practices
  • Sprint backlog, planning, review and retrospective
  • Team building, motivation and conflict management
  • Product vision and project environment

Key differentiators

  • Covers the fundamentals of agile project management, including different methodologies
  • Web learning platform available for self-guided exam prep
  • Available around the world, exam prices are based on location

Duration of exam

The IAMP exam contains 120 questions and lasts 80 minutes.

Cost of exam

The cost of the exam fluctuates depending on what country you live in and the exchange rates. Right now, it costs about $535 for United States residents.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Offered by Scrum Alliance, the Certified ScrumMaster certification is an introductory course designed for professionals leading scrum teams who are looking to learn more about the scrum framework and agile project management methodology. This is one of the most well-regarded scrum certifications, which is why it made both of our lists for the best overall Scrum certifications and the best Agile certifications. Participants must complete a minimum of 14 hours of live virtual training spread across two to four days before sitting for the exam.

Those looking for a more advanced scrum certification should check out other offerings from Scrum Alliance, such as the Advanced Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Professional ScumMaster courses. Scrum Alliance also offers other certifications in product owner and developer tracks.

CSM certification badge
CSM Badge


You need to have a basic understanding of Scrum, but no specific amount of project experience is required for this certification because the training is included.

Key skills tested

  • Fundamentals of Scrum framework and roles
  • Basics of Agile principles and how they apply to Scrum
  • Team leadership and collaboration skills

Key differentiators

  • Focused specifically on Scrum concepts and tactics
  • Suitable for early career project management professionals
  • Includes live virtual training courses as well as exam

Duration of exam

The CSM exam contains 50 questions and lasts 60 minutes.

Cost of exam

The CSM training and exam costs between $405 and $695, with additional exam sitting costing $25 each.

Consider earning a project management certification

While there are many other project management certifications out there, these are some of the best options to choose from because they will help project management professionals improve their skills. Earning a certification is a big commitment, but the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks for most project managers.

Project management roles are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s important for those interested in them to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by earning certification, which allows someone to prove their skills and knowledge to a potential employer.

While these certifications may not guarantee an aspiring or seasoned project manager a job, earning one will be a good step in the right direction to take your career to the next level. Whether you’re just starting out in your project management career or are a seasoned project manager looking to add to your resume, there’s a certification out there to fit your needs.

Featured Partners

1 Wrike

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3 Smartsheet

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Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.

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4 Zoho Projects

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Zoho Projects is an online project management software that helps teams plan projects and track them efficiently to the finish line. By intuitive reporting of project progress and budget health, the solution enables teams to make quick decisions. Catering to all kinds of teams, Zoho Projects facilitates automating tasks, workflows, and project notifications in a bid to improve productivity.

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