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Top 15 Project Management Certifications To Advance in Your Career in 2021


Project management certifications are one way to analyze the knowledge and credibility of project managers. However, is it the only way? Or, is it the best way? This is one of the things this article will shed light on. 

Did you know that about 97% of organizations believe that good knowledge of project management is critical to organizational success?

Unfortunately, barely half of the project managers are certified and skilled in their tenure in the project management domain.

There is no doubt in the fact that organizations prefer to recruit certified professionals who have the skillset, knowledge and expertise to handle complex project management scenarios, which can be achieved by undertaking a project management certification. 

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15 top project management certifications

Let’s talk about the various project management certifications that can take your career to the next level.

1. PMP: Project Management Professional

The PMP is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. It is recognized as the gold standard in project management all over the world. The certification is very global because as a PMP, you can work in virtually any industry with any methodology and in any location.


  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education


  • Four-year degree
  • 4,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education


  • Member: US $405.00

Non-member: US $555.00

2. CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management

If you’re looking for a certification that could distinguish you in the job market and enhance your credibility to manage projects, CAPM is the right choice. It demonstrates your understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology, and processes of effective project management. CAPM is valid for 5 years and doesn’t require any Professional Development Units (PDUs) to be renewed.


  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
  • 1,500 hours of project experience


  • 23 hours of project management education by the time you sit for the exam.


  • Member: US $225.00
  • Non-member: US $300.00

3. CSM: Certified ScrumMaster

With the increasing use of agile methodologies in IT organizations, professionals are looking for certifications that help them become certified Scrum masters. As a certified ScrumMaster, you will learn the Scrum framework and gain an understanding of team roles, events, artifacts and rules and enable the Scrum Team to perform at their highest level.


  • General familiarity with Scrum
  • Attend an in-person, two-day  (16 hour) CSM course
  • After you pass the CSM exam and accept the License Agreement, complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile


  • Approximately $995 to $1,395

4. CompTIA Project+ certification

The CompTIA Project+ examination is designed for business professionals who coordinate or manage small-to-medium-sized projects. It is an entry-level certification appropriate for people having one year of project management experience and manage less complex projects. Project+ is more versatile than other certifications because it covers essential project management concepts beyond the scope of just one methodology or framework. The certification helps you learn about the project basics, constraints, tools, documentation, and change management.


  • One year knowledge of project life cycle
  • Ability to manage resources and stakeholders
  • Communication skills
  • Project documentation


  • $285

5. PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner

Many government agencies and organizations in the UK are well aware of the Projects in Controlled Environments. The PRINCE2 certifications are globally recognized and highly sought after by potential employers. There are two major certifications namely PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. They can help you to quickly improve your skills and capabilities across a number of key business disciplines, in turn driving strong business performance. They mainly focus on managing and delivering projects from start (initiation) to finish (delivery).


  • PRINCE2 Practitioner requires one of the following: PRINCE2 Foundation; Project Management Professional (PMP); Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM); or an IPMA certification.


  • Foundation: $200; Practitioner: $340

6. CPMP: Certified Project Management Practitioner

The EC-Council is an organization formed after 9/11 attacks to deal with cyberterrorism and the information security. Certified Project Management Practitioner (CPMP) is an ideal course for project managers or for anyone who wants to get hands-on experience in project management and learn about various tools and techniques to better manage projects in real-time. The main intent of this certification is to help professionals build technical, leadership, and management skills to be able to handle every project successfully.


  • No requirement, but it is recommended that candidates attend a three-day preparation course


  • $199

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7. APM: Associate in Project Management

The Associate in Project Management (APM)™ certificate is an entry-level certification in the field of Project Management Framework. It is an important globally recognized credential in the field of project management that demonstrates that the candidate has a required knowledge in the field confining to the entry level of project management. The exam comprises of 50 Multiple Choice Questions out of which the candidate needs to score 70% (35 out of 50 correct) to pass the exam and the total duration of the exam is 1 hour (60 Minutes)


  • No formal education or experience requirements.


  • $300

8. MPM: Master Project Manager

The American Academy of Project Management (AAPM) issues the Master Project Manager (MPM) certification to applicants who meet their commission requirements of education, training, experience, industry knowledge, ethics, and continuing education. Not just project managers, in fact, individuals with business and technical responsibilities can also appear for this certification.


  • Three years of project management experience and training.
  • Fee waivers are available for professionals holding a master’s degree, with other qualified training and experience, the military or project management instructors.


  • $300 for application, review, processing, review, initiation, and certification

9. PPM: Professional in Project Management

The Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) conducts a Professional in Project Management (PPM) course. The mid-level certification comprises project management modules including – how to plan, execute, control and complete projects. It also trains you to develop project schedules, project measures, and different approaches of leading and managing projects. It focuses on making experienced project managers who can work well in risks and handle crisis and motivate teams to perform at their best.


  • A mandatory E-Course completion requirement
  • Candidates should have at least some project management experience


  • $300

10. CPD: Certified Project Director

Conducted by GAQM, the Certified Project Director (CPD) is a globally recognized and is considered to be the most prestigious level of project management. It is designed for senior and experienced folks who wish to go beyond the usual PPM and become a project management expert.  


  • The Certified Project Director (CPD) Certification requires a mandatory E-Course completion requirement.


  • $300

11. CPM: Certified Project Manager (IAPM)

The International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) is a global certification body that offers certifications which provide clear competitive advantages to professionals. The Certified Project Manager (IAPM) certification is for people who want to effectively manage and implement projects. The certificate is proof of theoretical project management knowledge.


  • No requirements as such but it offers workshops for self-study
  • A candidate can take a self-test once he feels prepared
  • Candidates must achieve a 65 percent on the exam to pass


  • Examination fee depends on a candidate’s nationality

12 BVOP: Business Value-oriented Principles

BVOP is a certification that will help you build credibility on the Agile principles and all its frameworks. This certification will prove that you are an asset both in the department of project management as well as in the department of people management. This certification gained its popularity in the UK and is quickly becoming a prominent project management certification for people from all parts of the world.


  • No professional project management experience required
  • Free guides and materials for preparation are available online
  • The exam at the end of the course will include questions from project management, program management, and product management. 


  • $130

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13 Project Management in IT Security (PMITS)

The Project Management in IT Security (PMITS) certification provided by the EC-Council is one where you get to prop up your hold over management of IT security projects. This certification will mainly cater to people who want to mold their project management style into one that helps them manage teams and organizations that work on IT security.


  • Minimum two years experience in information security
  • An educational background that revolves around security-related higher education
  • Candidates may also opt to attend EC-Council’s very own training program before the exam


  • $250

14 Project Management Professional (PMP)

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is one of the tier-1 certifications a project manager can hope for. It is the kind of certification that will give a super boost to your management credibility. 


  • Four-year secondary degree
  • Three years of project management experience
  • Experience of 4500 of leading and directing projects
  • At least 35 hours worth of project management education


  • At least 7500 hours experience leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education 


For the computer-based exam:

  • $405: PMI members
  • $555: non-members


For the paper-based exam:

  • $250: PMI members 
  • $400: non-members

15. Project Management Training Certification (30 Courses)

As a conglomerate of many courses, this one training program offers you 30 certifications on completion of all 30 courses. It is an online course that will provide you with lifetime access as well as 185+ hours worth of video tutorials. At the end of this 30 in 1 course, you will not only have certifications in 30 different attributes, but also the skill set that will help you implement all the latest project management technologies out there.


  • No real requirements, however, some basic knowledge about project management as a subject would be preferable. 


  • $99

Benefits Of Having A Project Management Certification

Whether you are a veteran or a newbie trying to climb up the ladder, there’s a project management certification for you that can help you advance in your career. These certifications are like stepping stones for you to do better, be better, and get the opportunities that you never thought you could have. 

Below are some detailed reasons describing the importance of project management certifications in today’s time and age:

Reason #1: Global acknowledgement

Global acknowledgement

There are famous institutes and online portals out there, like the Project Management Institute (PMI), that aim to offer world-class education and certifications to aspiring professionals. Once you get a certification from a reliable institute, you become qualified to showcase your skills to companies all over the world.

Reason #2: Financial gains

salary hike

Another inviting reason to consider getting a project management certification is the steep hike in salary. In a recent study, it was found that you can expect up to a 20% increase in your salary if you are PMP certified as compared to a project manager who isn’t. This indicates that a quality project management certification could give you a 20% hike in your earnings.

Reason #3: Better opportunities

Challenging projects and better job opportunities

A project management certification helps you gain the trust of people on higher posts. As you develop the right skill set, they aren’t afraid before handing over a plum project to you. Also, a certification equips you with both knowledge and experience enabling you to get project management jobs from great organizations.

Reason #4: Boost in project performance

Better project performance

Certified project management professionals tend to perform better than someone with no certification at all. A certified PM manager is well aware of the processes such as initiation, planning, execution, closure, along with risk management, and the implementation of the best project management practices.

Reason #5: A smart future investment

A smart future investment

Considering the fact that these certifications aren’t that expensive as compared to other specific exams or courses, one should never neglect the impact they could have on your career.

For example, you can take the PMP exam for $555 and if you are a PMI member, then it’s for $405. It won’t burn a hole in your pocket. On average, the passing rate is around 60%. You don’t need formal training to pass the test. The best thing is that certified professionals are secure even during an economic crisis. Taking everything into account, it does seem like a smart investment for your career.

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A manager knows that the best practice to keep their skills in order is to always keep learning. Let us all vow right here, to educate ourselves and to gain the knowledge and credibility that will help us climb the tallest of ladders. My advice, enroll yourself today in any of these project management certification courses and take your career to the next step! 

All the best!

 Vartika Kashyap
Vartika Kashyap

Vartika Kashyap is the Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2018. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

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