Posted by: projectsinpractice | June 23, 2012

The Importance of CAPM® Certification to Project Managers

Teresa and I are pleased to have Steve Caseley as a guest blogger this week:

Steve has over 30 years’ experience in IT consulting, with more than 20 of those years in project management. He has taught project management at several universities –  both at graduate and undergraduate levels – and has developed and delivered project management training programs for organizations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Switzerland, Ghana, and Dubai. To help project managers prepare for CAPM® certification, Steve offers online training videos available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through CBT Nuggets.

Here’s a MicroNugget video that Steve authored called Estimating Games.

If you think that project management (PM) might be a good career but are new to project management, how do you get started? The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) is a good starting point. For those with some experience, the certification is also a good way to validate your skills and show the boss that you really do understand this PM stuff.  Studies show that project managers who demonstrate proficiency through certifications receive more promotions and betters raises than those who don’t.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification is the world’s most recognized PM certification. However, many new and entry-level project managers are intimidated by the requirements, don’t have the 7,500 hours of real-life experience and 35 hours of formal Project Management training needed, or just don’t have the confidence that they can pass the exam. They give up and vow to do it in three years when they’re more qualified. There’s no need to procrastinate!

CAPM® removes all those barriers. Requiring only a high school diploma, 1,500 hours (less than 10 months) of experience  and 23 hours of formal PM training, it is within reach for just about anyone who considers themselves to be a PM.

The CAPM® exam is based exclusively on the PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide, which is a significant change from the PMP® exam. Although the PMP® exam is based on the PMBOK®, the best answer to many questions requires a practical application of PM based on a wide range of PM best practices.  In contrast, preparing for the CAPM® requires only a thorough understanding of the PMBOK® as the questions are focused on the basic principles of project management as defined in the PMBOK® and are well within the capacity of anyone with a good understanding of how to successfully deliver projects.

You will need to prepare for questions on the nine knowledge areas: scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk, procurement, and integration management and the five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing.  CAPM® questions are based directly on the content of the PMBOK.  In a nutshell, CAPM® validates understanding of PM principles while PMP validates the application of these principles.  Sample multiple-choice CAPM® questions include:

“Which of the following is not a PMBOK® knowledge area?”

“A mandatory dependency defines what type of task relationship”

“The main purpose of the Executing Phase is to:”

To take your interest to the next level, start by investing in some education to formalize your knowledge of the principles of PM by getting familiar with the PMBOK®.  Then, make the commitment to take and pass your CAPM®.

My advice is to treat obtaining your CAPM® certification as a project:

  • Set specific goals (Scope)
  • Define a specific schedule (Time): in 2 months I will have completed my study of the PMBOK®; by 4 months I will have completed the required 23 hours of formal education; and by 6 months, I will complete the CAPM® exam.
  • Obtain approval to attend training from your boss (Cost)
  • Commit to passing the exam on the first try (Quality)
  • Find a peer group to share your newfound knowledge with (Human Resourec Management)
  • Let everyone at work and in your private life know how important this is to you, and keep them up to date on your progress (Communication)
  • Eliminate the obstacles to success (Risk)
  • Pay for your training (Procurement
  • And most importantly, integrate everything you’re doing into a comprehensive approach to getting your CAPM® (Integration).

With the CAPM® certification under your belt, you can ask your boss for a chance to put your PM skills to work. The projects you manage will contribute to the hours of practical experience you need to be eligible for the PMP® certification. That way, in three years you will be prepared and confident enough to complete your PMP®.



  1. […] Caseley wrote a guest post on the importance of CAPM® certification for the project management blog Projects in Practice. Steve not only advises readers on why they […]

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