Thought Leaders

The Top 5 Certifications For Project Managers

project management students

Project management is becoming increasingly recognised as being the backbone of any successful organisation, and while having a project manager certification is not a mandatory requirement, there is consistent and undeniable proof that PM certification can greatly enhance PM skills, as well as boost a PM’s portfolio.

A great way to present your PM certified skills is by creating your own portfolio website, where you can attract potential clients.

While there are literally dozens of PM certifications to choose from, and project management apprenticeships,  not all of them will provide the knowledge or credentials needed to thrive in the world of project management.

In this article, we will be narrowing down the seemingly unending list of PM certification to the top 5 PM certifications.

1. PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification

The Project Management Professional certification is one of the oldest and most well-recognised PM (Project Management) credential. PMP was originally launched in 1984 by the PMI (Project Management Institute) and is a preferred PM certification amongst hiring managers.

In fact, PMP ranked in the top 10 certifications in a 2015 edition of Certification Magazine Salary Survey. Respondents to this survey reported average salaries of £50,000.00 or more.

The PMP certification, however, is not for inexperienced or aspiring project managers.

In fact, projects managers who wish to take this certification are required to have a minimum of 3 years practical experience in project management, including at least 4500 hours of leading and/or directing projects, as well as 35 hours of project management education, before an application can even be submitted.

Applicants without a four-year degree have even stricter requirements. Accepted applicants to this certification will also be expected to agree to the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Once this has been done, the applicant may take the PMP certification.

PMP Exam Details

Candidates who have been approved to take the PMP exam will need to answer 200 multiple choice questions within a 4-hour time period – and while the minimum passing score is not revealed, candidates will be encouraged to score at least 75%.

PMP certified project managers will also be required to maintain their certification every 3 years via professional development units. 


If you’re new to project management or still require the credentials needed to take the PMP exam, then you may want to start with the PRINCE2 certification (Projects IN Controlled Environments).

This certification is ideal for project managers who are new to the industry, or aspiring project managers, who wish to further their PM knowledge and capabilities.

It is a generic project management method that stems from PRINCE, a certification initially intended to be applied to only IT environments, however in the years following the design of this certification, it was discovered that its processes could be applied across several other environments – this is what prompted the creation of PRINCE2.

PRINCE2 Exam Details

Candidates taking the PRINCE2 certification exam will be allotted 60 minutes complete 70 multiple choice questions (plus 5 trial questions) and will be required to achieve a minimum score of 35/70 to receive a passing grade.


In order for candidates to be able to take the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification, they will need one the following:

  • 23 hours of Project Management education 
  • Secondary degree or a minimum of 1500 hours of project experience

CAPM certification is valid for 5 years, and while it does not require professional development units like the PMP certification, you will need to retake the updated CAPM exam to ensure that you are up to date with any changes that may have been made to the PMBOK over the years.

CAPM Exam Details

Like the PMP certification, it is not revealed what the minimum score is for a passing grade, however, candidates will be encouraged to score at least 70%. The CAPM exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions that will need to be completed within 3 hours.

4. CSP

The Certified Scrum Professional credential is considered to be the leading scrum credential amongst project management certification, it does not require an exam.

However, you will be required to have completed specific prerequisite entry-level credentials, as well as having confirmable experience and education. The prerequisite credentials required are:

  • CSM
  • CSPO
  • CSD

Scrum Alliance requires all candidates to apply via their website where applicants can encode work experience. Candidates are required to have 70 Scrum Education Units, as well as 36 months with of Scrum experience that was gathered in the past 5 years to achieve a successful application.

5. Project+

Project+ is the only project management certification offered by COMPTIA and is considered to be the ideal certification for new or aspiring project managers.

While this certification is considered to be a fairly easy entry-level exam, it is recommended that candidates taking the exam have a minimum of one-year experience in participating in, or managing, (preferable) small or medium sized projects.

Candidates who do not have this experience should at the very least have appropriate project management education.

Project+ Exam Details

Candidates who are taking the Project+ exam will be required to achieve a minimum score of 70/100 to pass. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions that candidates are given 90 minutes to complete.

Additional Certification for Project Managers

While we have only listed 5 certifications for project managers, there are plenty of other reputable certifications available that can substantially enhance your project management skills and knowledge including:

  • PMI
  • ITIL

IPMA (the International Project Management) is also an outstanding certification source that offers candidates a 4-level certification program.

The top level of this certification program is IPMA level A and is the equivalent to Certified Projects Director, while the lowest certification is IPMA Level D, and is the equivalent to a Project Management Associate.

All certifications in the IPMA require an exam, and interview process, as well as documented and verifiable experience.

This certification program is considered to be the gold standard of project management certification in Europe and is considered to be a far more rigorous certification than the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Paul Gordon
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