Project management certifications have become the bane of a successful project management career. 

Previously, project management was a task execution strategy set aside for specific sectors. Today, PM roles extend beyond traditional commonly known industries like construction and tech to broader sectors such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and more. 

Thus, as businesses take on more ambitious initiatives and compete in dynamic markets, the demand for skilled project managers is set to increase.

A recent report by the Project Management Institute (PMI) indicates that the demand for project managers is projected to experience substantial growth, estimated at an impressive 33% by 2027. A similar report by the institute further highlights that employers will seek a staggering 87.7 million skilled professionals to fulfill various project management-oriented roles in the coming years. 

Meanwhile, as these opportunities increase, there’s a growing gap between the number of jobs available and the number of people qualified for the positions. 

In this article, we’ll delve into five essential project management certifications that can significantly accelerate your professional journey, enhance your credibility, and potentially unlock new opportunities. Whether you’re a budding project manager or an experienced executive, these certifications can be the catalyst that propels your career to greater heights. 


Project management certifications are an essential part of accelerating your career – whether you’re starting out or considering a career switch.

Here is a list of top project management certifications and their overall requirements.

Certification 1: Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a prestigious certification acknowledged as the most desired certification in project management. Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), it is designed for experienced project managers who want to demonstrate their expertise in managing projects of all sizes and complexities. 

The PMP certification covers project management topics, including project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing.

To qualify, you must have at least three years of project management experience (or 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects) and a secondary degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, to qualify for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

You must also complete 35 hours of project management education before applying for the certification exam.

In general, preparing for the PMP certification exam requires a comprehensive understanding of the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) guide, which serves as the foundation for the exam. Many resources, such as study guides, online courses, and practice exams, are available to help you prepare for the exam.

Benefits of PMP Certification

#1. Increased salary 

Having a PMP certification comes with significant benefits, particularly regarding salary. On average, project managers with a PMP certification earn 20% more than those without the certification, as reported by Salary.com

The 10th Edition of the Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey by the Project Management Institute (PMI) suggests that PMP holders enjoy a median salary of USD 115,000.

In comparison, this is 22% higher than the median salary for project managers without a PMP certification.

#2. Improved job prospects

Having a PMP certification gives you an extra edge in the job market.

A recent study on the preferred project management certificates among organizations revealed that PMP was the top choice, with an impressive average of 69,154 selections. This data underscores the high demand and recognition of PMP certification in the professional world. 

Preparation tips and resources

Preparing for the PMP test can be challenging. However, with some guidance, you can find resources to help you prepare for the test. Some available guides include:

  • #1. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide by PMI: This is a definitive guide to project management best practices.
  • #2. PMP Exam Prep Seminars by PMI: PMI offers different Project Management Professional (PMP) exam prep seminars to help you prepare for the exam. 
  • #3. Online PMP exam prep courses: Several online PMP exam prep courses are available to help you prepare for the exam.
  • #4. Study groups: Joining a study group with professionals of similar interests is a great way to prepare for the PMP exam.
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Certification 2: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) 

The CAPM certification, also offered by PMI, is an entry-level certification for individuals who want to gain a fundamental understanding of project management principles and practices. The CAPM certification is particularly beneficial for those who still need to meet the experience requirements for the PMP certification.

To be eligible for the CAPM certification, you must have a secondary degree (such as a high school diploma) and complete 23 hours of project management education. The CAPM certification exam covers project integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholder management.

To successfully prepare for the CAPM certification exam, you must thoroughly study the PMBOK guide and utilize additional learning materials such as practice exams and online courses to become familiar with the exam structure and content. 

Certificate Overview: 

  • Program Requirements: You must have at least 23 hours of project management education or 4500 hours of project management experience (1500 hours leading and directing projects)—a high school diploma. Credential is renewed every five years.
  • Program cost: Registered members of PMI pay $225 with a retake fee of $150. At the same time, non-PMI members pay $300 and $200 to renew the certification.
  • Test locations: The CAPM program offers the convenience of choosing between two exam formats: online supervised or center-based test (CBT) formats with 150 questions.
  • Administrator: Pearson VUE is the authorized administrator of the CAPM exam, ensuring a reliable and standardized testing experience. Whether you prefer the flexibility of taking the exam online from the comfort of your home or the center-based approach, the CAPM program accommodates your preferences to make the certification process accessible and streamlined.
  • Resources: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Handbook, CAPM Sample Test Questions, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® Exam Content Outline | PMI.
  • Take the test: Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).

Certification 3: Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) 

The Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification has become increasingly valuable as the demand for agile project management practices grows. This certification is designed for project management professionals with experience working in agile environments or wanting to expand their knowledge and skills in agile project management methodologies.

The PMI-ACP certification exam tests candidates’ understanding of various agile methodologies, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP). It covers agile principles and mindset, value-driven delivery, stakeholder engagement, adaptive planning, problem detection and resolution, and continuous improvement. 

To be eligible for the PMI-ACP certification, you must have at least 2,000 hours of project management experience, 1,500 hours of agile project management experience, and 21 hours of agile project management education.

Candidates preparing for the PMI-ACP certification exam can use study materials, mock tests, practice exams, and agile training courses to gain additional knowledge and skills in agile project management.


  • Education: Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or global equivalent).
  • Agile Project Experience: 2,000 hours (12 months) of general project experience working on teams. You should have project management experience regardless of whether you used Agile methodologies.
  • Agile Project Experience: 1,500 hours (8 months) of Agile project experience working on teams. You must have acquired the experience within the last three years.
  • Training in Agile Practices: 21 contact hours of Agile practices training earned before applying for the PMI-ACP certification. 
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Benefits of PMI-ACP Certification

  • Increased wages: PMI-ACP-certified professionals earn an average of $62,000 to $162,000 per year, according to Payscale. However, salaries may differ based on your experience, location, and industry. For example, professionals in the software industry who are PMI-ACP-certified typically receive higher wages compared to their counterparts in other sectors.
  • Career opportunities: The demand for Agile project managers is multiplying. With a PMI-ACP certification, you will be in high demand and have the chance to choose from various job opportunities in the coming years.
  • Increased skills and knowledge: The PMI-ACP certification teaches the latest Agile practices and methodologies. This will make you a more effective project manager and give you the skills you need to succeed in today’s competitive job market. 
  • Professional recognition: The PMI-ACP certification is recognized by employers globally and shows your skill, knowledge, and experience. 

Salary Breakdown for PMI-ACP Professionals

This is the salary breakdown for the PMI-ACP project management certifications.

Experience Level
  • Entry level: $62,000
  • Mid-level: $90,000
  • Senior level: $125,000 
  • United States: $105,000
  • Canada: $95,000
  • United Kingdom: £65,000
  • Australia: AUD$120,000 
  • Software: $125,000
  • Consulting: $115,000
  • Financial services: $105,000
  • Healthcare: $95,000 

The salaries of PMI-ACP-certified professionals vary depending on several factors. However, the average salary is significantly higher than the average salary for project managers who do not have the certification. This is because PMI-ACP-certified professionals have the skills and knowledge to manage Agile projects successfully. 

Certification 4: PRINCE2 Practitioner

The project management methodology known as PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is widely recognized, particularly in Europe. The program comes in two forms: PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner, The PRINCE2 Practitioner certification is aimed at project managers who want to master the PRINCE2 methodology and apply it to their projects.

The certification exam for PRINCE2 practitioners evaluates candidates’ comprehension of the principles, themes, processes, and techniques of PRINCE2. It also measures their proficiency in customizing the methodology to meet the requirements of particular projects and organizations.

To be eligible for the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification, you must have previously achieved the PRINCE2 Foundation certification. You must also complete a PRINCE2 Practitioner training course from an accredited training organization. 

Preparing for the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification involves studying the PRINCE2 manual, attending training courses, and practicing with sample exam questions. 


Program Details

  • PRINCE2 Foundation: $200
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner: $340 

Registrations Requirement 

You must have one of the following qualifications to be eligible for the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification: 

  • PRINCE2 Foundation
  • 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) 

Preparation tips and resources

  • PRINCE2 6th Edition Foundation & Practitioner: This course will help you prepare for the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams.
  • PRINCE2 Exam Simulator: This test simulator is designed to help you practice for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam.
  • Study groups: Study groups are great ways to prepare for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. 

After passing the PRINCE2 Practitioner test, you will be given a certificate to acknowledge your accomplishment. This certificate remains valid for five years.

Take the test here: https://www.prince2.com/zar/prince2

Certification 5: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) 

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification is designed specifically for professionals working in Scrum-based agile environments. Scrum is an agile framework commonly used in software development and other industries. It employs an iterative and incremental approach. 


The CSM certification focuses on the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master, who is responsible for facilitating the Scrum process and ensuring its successful implementation. The program covers Scrum theory, values, roles, events, and artifacts.

To obtain the CSM certification, you must attend a two-day CSM training course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). After completing the training, you must pass an online exam to demonstrate your understanding of Scrum principles and practices. 

Preparing for the CSM certification involves attending the training course, actively participating in class exercises and discussions, and studying the Scrum Guide, which is the primary source of knowledge for the exam. 


Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) is offered by the Scrum Alliance, a global non-profit organization committed to promoting the principles and practices of Agile and Scrum methodologies. 

The Scrum Alliance offers different certification tracks for individuals seeking credentials at various levels of expertise. They include:

1. Scrum Master Track:

  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Foundation level
  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) – Advanced level
  • Certified Scrum Professional – Scrum Master (CSP-SM) – Professional level

2. Product Owner Track:

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) – Foundation level
  • Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) – Advanced level
  • Certified Scrum Professional – Product Owner (CSP-PO) – Professional level

3. Developer Track:

  • Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) – Foundation level
  • Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) – Professional level 

The Scrum Master and Product Owner tracks offer credentials at the foundation, advanced, and professional levels, allowing you to demonstrate your skills and expertise as you progress in your Scrum journey. On the other hand, the Developer track only offers certifications at the foundation and professional levels.

In addition to the certification tracks, the Scrum Alliance also offers elevated or guide credentials for experienced professionals who have achieved significant expertise in Scrum methodologies.

These elevated credentials include:

  • Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)
  • Certified Team Coach (CTC)
  • Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) 

Furthermore, the Scrum Alliance recognizes the importance of Agile leadership and offers the Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) program. This credential is based on a combination of education and validated practice. The CAL program has two levels:

  • Certified Agile Leadership I
  • Certified Agile Leadership II

These leadership credentials cater to individuals who seek to lead and drive Agile transformations within their organizations, demonstrating their capability to guide teams and stakeholders toward Agile success. 

Requirements and eligibility criteria

To attain the CSM certification, you must:

#1. Attend a CSM training course: You must complete a two-day (16-hour) CSM training course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). This interactive training gives you the necessary knowledge and understanding of Scrum principles.

#2. Pass the CSM exam: After completing the training, you receive an invitation to take the online CSM exam. The exam comprises multiple-choice questions and must be completed within the time frame provided. 


A project management certification is a significant investment in professional development and can significantly enhance your career prospects. The certifications outlined in this article are the most recognized and respected certifications to advance your project management career. Also, learn the 5 Essential Leadership Skills For Project Managers

Remember that getting certified is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t end there. The real value added is showcased when you apply the knowledge and skills gained through getting certified to real-world projects.

Start your journey towards a successful project management career by exploring these essential certifications and choosing the one that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

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