4 Best Project Management Certifications for Beginners with Top Salary

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    Best Project Management Certification for Beginners

    Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by andrewshih

    Are you interested in becoming a project manager but have little or no experience? Or if you want to be a project manager but are not sure which project management certification is right for you?

    This article will provide all the necessary details about the 4 best project management certifications for beginners with a good starting salary and potential growth. You will find a quick summary of all you need to know about the certification to make an informed decision.

    Disclaimer:  PMAspirant is affiliated with Amazon, and project management course providers, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please review the full affiliate disclaimer

    CSM

    Everything about CSM by Knowledgehut

    What is CSM

    Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification is an internationally recognized certification by Scrum Alliance. It is designed to help individuals who are interested in learning more about agile development practices.

    Certified Scrum Masters are experts in agile project management. They help teams improve their processes and workflows by using Scrum. CSM is the best Agile project management certification for beginners with no experience.

    With CSM certification, you will learn valuable skills, including servant leadership, facilitation, coaching, resolving impediments, enabling high team performance, and leading and facilitating change.

    Scrum utilizes iterative and incremental approaches with a short delivery cycle called sprints, typically lasting between one to four weeks. The Scrum framework consists of artifacts, events, roles, and rules for implementing the agile project.

    CSM Certification Requirement

    Accreditation: Scrum Alliance

    Completion of two-day CSM training course in a live virtual training environment and passing the CSM exam.

    CSM Salary

    According to PayScale, the estimated base pay for a Scrum Master with CSM certification in the United States area is $93.724/yr as of June 2022.

    CSM Certification Process

    Before taking the CSM exam, you must complete either the 16 hours in-person 2-day class or 14 hours of live online 2-day class with one of the Certified Scrum Trainers (CST). The 2-day live training course is a requirement for taking the CSM exam. 

    After completing the CSM course, you will receive a welcome email with a link to activate your Scrum Alliance certification account. The account will give you access to take the CSM exam.

    Once you completed the 2-day course and pass the CSM exam, you are CSM certified.

    CSM Exam

    CSM Exam Format

    The CSM exam is relatively easy. It is a 60-minute exam consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions with a passing score of 74%. You must get 37 out of 50 questions correctly to pass the exam.

    CSM Exam cost

    The cost can vary quite a lot by the training provider, but approximately between $400 to $1,395

    There is no additional cost for taking the CSM exam if you pass the exam within 90 days after receiving the welcome letter to take the exam by completing the 2-day live training course. If you do not take the exam within 90 days, the CSM exam will cost $25 for each attempt.

    Prepare for the CSM exam

    The live training course will take 14 to 16 hours to complete for online and in-person learning. The student may want to spend a few more days reviewing the training material before taking the CSM exam.

    One of the leading CSM training providers with an affordable price is KnowledgeHut having 4.8 out of 5 stars by over 1700 reviews on TrustPilot. Other popular CSM training providers include Project Management Academy. PMTraining, and GreyCampus.

    Provider

    KnowledgeHut

    Project Management Academy

    PMTraining

    GreyCampus

    COST

    $445

    $995 $795

    Coupon code ASPIRANT200

    save extra $200.

    $698 ~$998

    $1000

    Maintain the CSM Certification

    According to ScrumAlliance, the CSM Member renewal fee and requirement are you will need to earn 20 Scrum Education Units (SEU) and pay a $100 renewal fee every 2 years.

    Should I Get CSM Certification?

    CSM Certification may be right for you, if:

    • If you want to learn to lead a team to create a product better and faster.
    • CSM is a great starting point if you do not have agile project management experience and would like to open your career to leading a team in an agile product development environment.
    • If you have traditional, predictive, waterfall project management experience and looking for an entry into Agile project management.

    CSM FAQ

    Scrum was first used in project management in the 1986 Harvard Business Review paper “The New New Product Development Game” by Hirotaka Takeushi. The name was borrowed from the Rugby game to emphasize the importance of teamwork.

    Agile is a project management philosophy with core values and principles. In comparison, Scrum is a specific Agile methodology for facilitating projects.

    You have two attempts to take the CSM exam within 90 days after receiving the welcome email from taking the exam at no cost. If you did not take the exam within 90 days or failed both attempts, you would be charged $25 for each additional attempt.

    Both CSM and PSM are entry-level Scrum certificates that do not require relevant work experience to earn the certification. CSM stands for Certified Scrum Master, whereas PSM stands for Professional Scrum Master.

    This comparison table summarizes the key differences between the two exams.

    FeatureCSMPSM
    AccreditationScrum AllianceScrum.org
    Pre-requisiteAttend 2-day live training course by Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).No pre-requisite
    Exam format50 multiple-choice questions.80 questions in multiple-choice, multi-answer, true/false format
    Passing Grade74%85%
    Time Limit60 min60 min
    Certification RenewalRenew every 2 Years for $100, and 20 Scrum Education Unit.No expiration
    Certification CostAbout $1000 trainingPSM I- $150
    PSM II- $250
    PSM III- $500
    (1st free attempt is given to those who attend the PSM training)
    Exam difficultiesExam is easy after a 2-day live training class.Exam is harder

    PSM and CSM have different approaches to Scrum.

    PSM is a test of “book knowledge” of Scrum by having a more challenging exam but does not require your commitment to continuing education or hands-on practice. CSM requires a higher commitment to Scrum via live class training, maintaining certification with continued education.

    CSM OR PSM?

    CSM is good for you:

    • CSM is a more recognizable certification by employers. CSM will be a better fit if you are looking for a job because more employers are listing CSM as desirable certification.
    • You intend to work as a Scrum Master.

    PSM is good for you:

    • PSM may be a better fit if you want to expand your knowledge about Scrum, but you do not want to pay renewal fees and do continuing education to maintain the certificate.
    • You just want to learn the Scrum knowledge.

    Udemy offers affordable PSM courses for as low as $34.99. If you prefer a live virtual PSM boot camp course, KnowledgeHut is the leader in PSM training.

    Additional Reference

    Scrum Alliance – About Scrum

    CAPM

    What is CAPM

    A certified associate in project management (CAPM) is an individual who has completed a rigorous course of study that focuses on the principles of project management. The CAPM exam tests candidates’ knowledge of these principles.

    Becoming a CAPM will help you advance your career as a project manager. It shows employers that you have the skills needed to manage projects effectively. Additionally, becoming a CAPM demonstrates your commitment to project management.

    CAPM Certification Requirement

    Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)

    • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
    • 23 hours of project management training.

    There is no project management work experience required.

    CAPM Salary

    According to PayScale, the estimated base pay for a project manager with CAPM certification in the United States area is $67,000/yr as of June 2022.

    Many project managers with CAPM certification proceed to acquire PMP certification after acquiring sufficient project management experience.

    CAPM Certification Process

    You will need to submit your application online, and the PMI committee will review your application to make sure you meet the requirements. Your application may be randomly selected for audit. Once you pass the application, you have one year to pass the exam.

    After you complete the application process and pass the CAPM exam, you will earn the CAPM certification.

    CAPM Exam

    CAPM Exam Format

    The CAPM tests your understanding of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide).

    The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, which includes 15 questions ungraded pretest questions scattered in the exam. The allotted time for the CAPM exam is 3 hours.

    Sample Question

    If you take the exam at the test center, you can take breaks as you want, although the clock will continue to count down.

    If you opted for an online proctored test, you cannot take a break or leave your desk.

    CAPM Exam Cost

    If you are taking the CAPM exam for the first time:

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

    Re-examination fee if you failed the CAPM Exam:

    • Member: $150.00
    • Non-Member: $200.00

    You can take the exam up to 3 times within a year. If you fail 3 times, you will need to wait one year from the date of your last exam.

    Prepare for CAPM Exam

    If you are a PMI member, you can download a digital copy of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide. You can also purchase a physical copy from the PMI store or on Amazon. The current exam is based on both PMBOK 6 and PMBOK 7.

    To earn the required training hours and prepare for the CAPM exam, students either attend a video-on-demand exam preparation course or a live virtual Bootcamp course. The on-demand course is more affordable and flexible. The live boot camp course provides instructor support and comprehensive training experience.

    Video-on-demand CAPM Course

    Udemy CAPM Course

    Udemy’s CAPM course is the most affordable video-on-demand class. Joseph Philips’ CAPM class is the most popular. However, it lacks the CAPM exam simulator.

    Prepcast CAPM Exam Simulator

    If you purchase this course, you may also want to buy the CAPM exam simulator from Prepcast. The exam simulator provides realistic exam practice questions with similar wording and difficulties. The answer key provides detailed explanations. Practice is the key to passing the exam.

    Prepcast Elite

    The Prepcast Elite package offers the best package at an affordable price. It provides up-to-date training content and the best CAPM exam simulator in the market. 

    Live virtual CAPM Bootcamp Course

    If you prefer training from a live instructor from your office or at home, a live virtual boot camp course is the way to go. Here are two reputable Authorized Training Partner (ATP) accredited by PMI that offers CAPM Bootcamp courses.

    Provider

    Project Management Academy

    KnowledgeHut

    GreyCampus

    Price

    $1595 $1395

    Use coupon code ASPIRANT200

    save extra $200.


    $599

    $700

    Maintain the CAPM Certification

    To maintain the certification, CAPM certification holders must earn 15 PDUs and pay the renewal fee every three years.

    • Member renewal fee: $60 / 3-year
    • Non-Member renewal fee: $150 / 3-year

    Should I Get CAPM Certification?

    CAPM may be right for you, if:

    • You are interested in becoming a project manager but do not have at least three years of leading project experience. 
    • You want to show the recruiters that you have the project management knowledge or meet the job requirements.

    Additional Reference

    PMP

    What is PMP

    PMP stands for Project Management Professional. It is the most sought-after and internationally recognized project management certification for experienced project managers.

    You will acquire knowledge in 3 domains: People, Processes, and Business Environment. 

    Project management is highly dependent on the project team, and the project manager plays a pivotal role in the project’s success. The people domain area emphasizes the soft skills to lead a project team effectively.

    A project manager will also need to know the technical aspects of project management, including the processes, methodologies, tools, and techniques from initiating to closing a project. The project manager will need to be familiar with predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches.

    A Project is all about delivering business value to the company and the end-users. The project manager needs to understand the connections between business landscapes, both internal and external factors, and how it impacts the project.

    PMP Certification Requirement

    Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)

    Before applying for the PMP certification, you need to have experience managing or leading professional projects. However, you do not need a project management job title to qualify for the experience. You can learn more here.

    Depending on your educational background, there are different work experience requirements.

    Educational Background

    Project Management Experience

    Project Management
    Education

    Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent)

    Minimum five years/60 months of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience*

    35 contact hours of
    formal education unless
    you are an active CAPM
    holder

    OR

    Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)

    Minimum three years/36 months of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience*

    35 contact hours of
    formal education unless
    you are an active CAPM
    holder

    OR

    Bachelor's or post-graduate
    degree from a GAC accredited program (bachelor’s degree or master's or global equivalent)

    Minimum two years/24 months of unique non-overlapping professional project management experience*

    35 contact hours of formal education unless you are an active CAPM holder

    PMP Salary

    According to PayScale, the estimated base pay for a project manager with PMP certification in the United States area is $110,000/yr as of June 2022.

    PMP Certification Process

    Make sure you have the school degree, work experience, and complete the training first. Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you can complete the PMP application. 

    One of the biggest challenges in completing the PMP application is writing project descriptions. Check out the step-by-step guide with tips and examples to help you write the project description. Your application can also be selected for random audit.

    Once you pass the PMP application, you should take the PMP exam within 1 year. If you pass the exam, you are PMP certified. Most PMP candidates take the PMP exam within 2 months of passing the PMP application.

    However, if you failed the exam 3 times within a year, you would need to wait for one year from the date of the third failed exam.

    PMP Exam

    PMP Exam Format

    The exam is comprised of:

    • 180 questions and 5 of the questions are pretest questions to validate for future exams.
    • 230 minutes to complete the exam
    • There are two 10-minute breaks for computer-based tests. There are no scheduled breaks for paper-based exams.
    • Questions consist of a combination of multiple-choice, multiple responses, matching, hotspot, and limited fill-in-the-blank. Here are some sample questions.
    • The exam consists of mostly situational questions. You will be given a situation and need to determine the best course of action. Simply memorizing the content is not sufficient for passing the exam; you must know how to apply the knowledge, which makes the exam difficult.

    The computer-based exam can be taken at Pearson Vue center or proctored online from home. A paper-based exam is available, but you should take the computer-based exam that’s widely available in most countries.

    PMP Exam Cost

    Member: US$405.00

    Non-member: US$555.00

    Prepare for PMP Exam

    PMP exam is based on a number of reference books, but the primary books are PMBOK 6, PMBOK 7, and the Agile Practice Guide.

    There are several options to prepare for the PMP exam. These options will help you meet the 35 contact-hour training requirements and prepare you for the PMP exam. You should choose the option that best fits your learning style.

    Option 1: Most Affordable on-demand learning

    You can take a very affordable course on Udemy that you may purchase for less than $20 per course at an on-sale price. Two highly rated courses among PMP aspirants include:

    Andrew Ramdayal’s PMP course

    Joseph Phillips’s PMP exam prep

    Then, practice hard with a top-quality PMP exam simulator that offers realistic exam questions and detailed explanations, such as PM-Prepcast or PMTraining.

    Option 2: Packaged on-demand learning with exam simulator

    Companies such as PM-Prepcast offers video-on-demand training with a premium exam simulator bundle. PM-Prepcast has been a reputable PMP training provider and its PMP exam simulator is top-notch.

    Option 3: On-demand learning from PMI

    PMI offers on-demand courses. It costs $699 for Members and $799 for non-members.

    Option 4: Live instructor-led class or online boot camp training

    If you prefer having access and support from a live instructor, you can learn from PMI’s Authorized Training Partners (ATP), such as Project Management Academy, PMTraining, and GreyCampus. 

    With the boot camp, you have access to the instructor, the most comprehensive training material, and access to the premium exam simulator. Here is a comparison chart of popular boot camp programs, including an exclusive discount code only for PMAspirant from Project Management Academy.

    PMI

    Project Management Academy

    PMTraining

    GreyCampus

    Training Format

    On-Demand

    Live

    Live

    Live

    Premier ATP

    N/A

    YES

    YES

    YES

    Contract Hours

    35

    35

    35

    35

    Price

    $699 ~ $799

    $1995

    $1795

    $998
    to
    $1498


    $1499

    Class Availability

    Instructor Transparency


    STUDY MATERIAL

    Workbooks

    Slides

    CheatSheets & Formulas

    Flashcards

    Instructor led exam solving session

    PDU for PMP renewal

    Exam Simulator Included

    Exam Simulator Questions

    2000

    1000

    600

    Exam Simulator Access

    120 Days

    90 Days

    1 Year

    SUPPORT & POLICY

    Instructor Support

    6 months

    30 days

    1 year

    PMP Application support

    Webinar Support

    Free Re-enrollment

    Yes, free retake at same or lower value.

    Yes, free retake at same or lower value.

    Yes, 6-month unlimited access.

    Cancellation Policy

    OVERALL RATING

    Overall Rating

    Coupon Code

    Exclusive Offer!

    Save extra $200

    ASPIRANT200

    Additional Resources:

    For additional recommended resources, such as study guides and free resources, you can find them on the PMP resources page.

    Maintain the PMP Certification

    To maintain your PMP certification, you will need to earn 60 PDU every 3 years and pay the renewal fee every three years to maintain the certification.

    • Member renewal fee: $60 / 3-year
    • Non-Member renewal fee: $150 / 3-year

    Should I Get PMP Certification?

    PMP Certification may be right for you if you:

    • Meet the minimum qualification and look to advance your project management career.
    • A job seeker and looking to meet the job qualification.
    • Already have project management experience and looking to improve yourself and do a better job. 

     Additional Reference

    PMP by PMI

    PMI-ACP

    What is PMI-ACP

    PMI-ACP stands for Agile Certified Practitioner by Project Management Institute.

    If your company adopts agile practices or you are in an agile team, PMI-ACP is a perfect choice. 

    PMI-ACP has in-depth coverage of many Agile approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean Extreme Programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD).

    This certification shows you have the knowledge and real-world experience with agile practices.

    PMI-ACP Certification Requirement

    Accreditation: Project Management Institute (PMI)

    • A high school diploma, an associate degree, or a global equivalent
    • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices
    • 12 months of project management experience within the last 5 years. A current PMP or PgMP certification will satisfy this requirement but is not required.
    • 8 months of Agile project management experience within the last 3 years

    PMI-ACP Salary

    According to PayScale, the estimated base pay for a project manager with PMI-ACP certification in the United States area is $113,000/yr as of June 2022.

    PMI-ACP Exam

    PMI-ACP Exam Format

    The certification exam has 120 multiple-choice questions, and you have three hours to complete the exam.

    PMI-ACP Exam Cost

    Member: US$435.00

    Non-member: US$495.00

    Prepare for the PMI-ACP exam

    According to several Reddit discussions from jzbpki, ps376a, and mksia7, the following resources are helpful for passing the PMI-ACP exam, including the PMI-ACP Exam Prep book by Mike Griffiths, Udemy course by Joseph Philips, and the Prepcast exam simulator.

    Video-on-demand PMI-ACP Course

    Udemy

    Udemy Agile course is the most affordable video-on-demand class. Joseph Philips’ PMI-ACP Exam Prep Success class is the most popular. However, it lacks the Agile exam simulator.

    Prepcast Agile exam simulator

    If you purchase the Udemy course, you may also want to buy the Prepcast Agile exam simulator from Prepcast. The exam simulator provides realistic exam practice questions with similar wording and difficulties. The answer key provides detailed explanations. Practice is the key to passing the exam.

    Agile Prepcast Elite

    The Agile Prepcast Elite package offers the best package at an affordable price. It provides up-to-date training content and the best premium exam simulator in this market space. 

    Live virtual PMI-ACP Bootcamp Course

    If you prefer training from a live instructor from your office or at home, a live virtual boot camp course is the way to go. Here are 4 reputable Authorized Training Partner (ATP) accredited by PMI that offers PMI-ACP boot camp courses.

    Provider

    Project Management Academy

    Knowledgehut

    PMTraining

    GreyCampus

    Price

    $1195 $995

    Coupon Code

    ASPIRANT200

    save extra $200

    $899

    $898 ~ $1298

    $700

    Maintain the PMI-ACP Certification

    To maintain your PMI-ACP certification, you will need to earn 30 professional development units (PDU) in agile topics every three years.

    Should I Get PMI-ACP Certification?

    PMI-ACP certification may be right for you if you are:

    • A project manager who works in an Agile team.
    • A project manager with some project management and Agile experience wants to advance the agile knowledge further.
    • Demonstrate that you are an experienced Agile project manager to the recruiter.

    Additional Reference

    PMI-ACP certification by PMI

    Why should I get Project Management Certification?

    You may wonder if project management certification is worth it.

    There are several benefits of becoming a project manager. Apart from making a good salary, project management is a transferrable skill across industries and is acknowledged around the globe. 

    A project manager will always be in demand in the foreseeable future, even with the advancement of AI replacing jobs. While AI can assist with some of the project management tasks, it will not be able to replace project management which requires strong interpersonal skills and handling unexpected situations.

    By getting the project management certification, you demonstrate that you have the knowledge and ability to take on complex projects, and you are an asset to the company.

    Previous articleMaster of Project Academy Review
    Welcome to PMAspirant, and Congratulations for taking the initiative to embark on your PMP journey. I received my PMP certification in 2017 and created PMAspirant to help PMP aspirants by providing lessons learned, tips, and resources for the PMP application and exam. I hope you find the resource helpful, and best of luck with your PMP journey.
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