Project Management Certifications: Increase Career Prospects and Earning Potential

Behind every successful tech project, you will find a highly adept project manager (PM).  From upgrades, to application development, to a full software rollout, PMs keep teams on track so that productivity can be maximized. 

A recent AXELOS study revealed that 88% of all PMs recognized that the business environment has become more competitive.  Project management certification (PMC) is a great way to distinguish yourself from others in the profession, boosting your career prospects immensely while helping you stay up to date with the latest and greatest technology, tools, and trends.  As an added bonus, PMC can provide your paycheck with an infusion. According to Project Management’s 2019 Salary Statistics, certified PMs earn approximately 16% more than their non-certified counterparts.  

If you are looking to stay at the top of your field or looking to increase your earning potential, certifications are the perfect avenue to explore.  The following are some of the top PMCs.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Institute offers one of the most widely recognized certification for PMs, the Project Management Professional (PMP).  The PMP is one of the top credentials for PMs and is often recognized as the industry standard.  The PMP ensures that participants possess certain skills and qualifications necessary to successfully manage all phases of a project, including planning, initiating, controlling, monitoring and closing the project.

About the PMP certification exam structure

The PMP certification examination is a 200-question, multiple-choice test that rigorously tests all phases of PM, from planning, initiating and executing to controlling, monitoring and closing.  The four-hour test is not a walk in the park; rather, it requires substantial preparation. On average, successful candidates will spend a minimum of 35 hours and use multiple study aids to prepare.

PMP Prerequisites

  • 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 or CAPM certification


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


The Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) is well-known overseas, in part because it was first introduced by the U.K. government.  PRINCE2 was wildly successful and has been adopted by corporations worldwide. The certification is accredited by AXELOS and trains individuals in all aspects of PM including directing, managing, and delivering projects from initiation to close.  

About the PRINCE2 certification exam structure

PRINCE2 offers three certifications: Foundation, Practitioner, and Agile.  Foundation is an entry-level PMC on basic PM terms and methods. The Practitioner test is for advanced PMs who previously passed PRINCE2 Foundation. Lastly, the Agile Practitioner certification integrates agile management concepts with the PRINCE2 method.  

The exam consists of 50 objective-type questions, 30 of which must be correct to be awarded the certification.

PRINCE2 Prerequisites

The PRINCE2 Foundation certification does not require prerequisites, but you must pass one of the following to sit for the more advanced, Practitioner or Agile Practitioner certification tests:

  • 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)


The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is also accredited by the PMI and is the precursor of the PMP certification.  If you lack a degree or project management experience but desire to take the PMP, the CAPM can be taken as a steppingstone.  Alternatively, it can be utilized independently to demonstrate that participants possess the skills necessary for managing large, corporate projects.

About the CAPM certification exam structure

A CAPM certification in project management is a fantastic choice for IT professionals looking to broaden the scope of their position.  The exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions and lasts 3 hours. To maintain a CAPM certification, the exam must be retaken every 5 years.

CAPM Prerequisites

  • Secondary Degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
  • 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam


The Agile methodology has taken over the IT landscape, making knowledge about this method invaluable. The Scrum Alliance accredits the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), a course that teaches individuals how to implement Agile project management.  This certification teaches participants about the Scrum framework and about team roles, events, and artifacts. This is a fantastic certificate for beginner PMs.

About the CSM certification exam structure

Prior to taking the CSM exam, participants must attend a 16-hour course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer.  The 1-hour CSM exam consists of 50 questions, 37 of which must be correct to pass.

CSM Prerequisites

The CSM does not have prerequisites.


The Project Management Institute offers an advanced certification for Agile Certified Practitioners, the PMI-ACP. The certification is highly respected within the industry because it teaches Agile techniques that span many approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programing and test-driven development.  

About the PMI-ACP certification exam structure

The PMI-ACP certification test is a 120 multiple-choice question exam that must be completed within 3 hours.  Through an online proctor, you have the option to take the exam online from the comfort of your own home or office.

PMI-ACP Prerequisites

  • 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. A current PMP or PgMP will satisfy this requirement but is not required to apply for the PMI-ACP
  • 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies.  
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices