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PMP & PMI Certification Portfolio • The Definitive Guide

The PMP certification is the most famous PMI certification, but there are many more. This is the ultimate guide for helping you choose the right PMI certification exam: PMP, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP.

Maybe you are thinking of taking a project management certification exam, but you don’t have a clear idea of which PMI certification will fit you better. In this article I will be covering all the PMI certification exams available and will provide you also guidance for making your best decision for booting your project management career.

PMI has different levels of certifications that require different project management knowledge. Although it would make sense to require a CAPM certification before going to PMP, or a PMP certification for going to a PgMP or PfMP. PMI allows you to go for any of them, without having any pre-requisite certification for applying to another.

Project Management Professional (PMP) PMI Certification Exam

This was the first project management certification in the PMI exams portfolio. It is intended for professionals performing the Project Manager role and who have been for a long time leading and directing projects. At least, this was the theory.

For becoming a PMP, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree and 4,500 hours of professional work experience in leading and directing projects within the last 8 years, or a high school diploma and 7,500 hours (of professional work experience in leading and directing projects within the last 8 years).

Nowadays there are more and more PMP credentialed professionals that they get this certification without the managerial experience required.

Additionally, 35 hours of professional education in project management are required.

The PMP exam has a duration of 4 hours with 200 multiple-choice questions.

The PMP exam fee is $555 (or €465) for non-members, or $405 (or €340) for PMI members. Of course, they want you to become a member (but this also has an additional yearly cost).  In my case, I chose the first option.

The PMP Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 60 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours are required. 

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) PMI Certification Exam

This PMI certification exam is in fact what newbies should go into. The problem is that almost everyone goes directly to PMP. The CAPM Certification demonstrates the understanding of the fundamentals of the Project Management discipline, including the processes and the terminology defined in the PMBOK (Project Management Body Of Knowledge) guide published by the PMI.

For becoming a CAPM, PMI requires a high school diploma and 1500 hours of professional work experience on a project team without project management education, or only 23 hours of project management education without any professional work experience.

The CAPM exam has a duration of 3 hours with 150 multiple-choice questions.

The CAPM exam fee is $300 (or €250) for non-members, or $225 (or €185) for PMI members.

The CAPM Certification expires after 5 years. For its renewal, you need to take (and pay) the exam again. No PDUs (credits) option is available. 

Program Management Professional (PgMP) PMI Certification Exam

This PMI certification exam is intended for professionals who direct a collection of interconnected projects aligned with business objectives. The PgMP Certification demonstrates the understanding of the fundamentals of the Program Management discipline, including the processes and the terminology defined in the ANSI Standard for Program Management (Third Edition) guide published by the PMI.

For becoming a PgMP, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree, 6,000 hours of project management experience plus another 6,000 hours of program management experience, or a high school diploma with 6,000 hours of project management experience plus another 10,500 hours of program management experience.

The PgPM evaluation has two steps. First there is a panel review, and second an exam with a duration of 4 hours with 170 multiple-choice questions.

The PgPM exam fee is $1000 (or €815) for non-members, or $800 (or €655) for PMI members.

The PgPM Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 60 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours are required. 

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) PMI Certification Exam

This PMI certification is very similar in format to the PgMP. It is intended for professionals who direct a portfolio of projects, programs, or operations to achieve business objectives. The PfMP Certification demonstrates the understanding of the fundamentals of the Portfolio Management discipline, including the processes and the terminology defined in the ANSI Standard for Portfolio Management (Second Edition) guide published by the PMI.

For becoming a PfMP, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree, 6,000 hours of portfolio management experience plus another 96 months of professional business experience, or a high school diploma with 10,500 hours of portfolio management experience plus another 96 months of professional business experience.

The PfPM evaluation has two steps. First there is a panel review, and second an exam with a duration of 4 hours with 170 multiple-choice questions.

The PfPM exam fee is $1000 (or €815) for non-members, or $800 (or €655) for PMI members.

The PfPM Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 60 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours are required. 

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) Certification Exam

This PMI certification exam was the response by PMI to something that exceeded them: the fast growth of Agile methods in Project Management was identified as a risk for this traditional project management institute. Waterfall project management was moving to Agile project management approaches led by new players: Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, etc.  PMI should have updated their PMBOK for including more Agile techniques and tools, but instead of this, they launched a new exam without having any PMI Agile standard/framework. This has resulted now is two separate worlds and project management approaches, and without a clear guidance on how to link them.

For becoming a PMI-ACP, PMI requires 2000 hours of professional work experience on a project team (in the last 5 years), 1500 hours of agile project team experience, and 21 hours of agile practices professional education.

The PMI-ACP exam has a duration of 3 hours with 120 multiple-choice questions.

The PMI-ACP exam fee is $495 (or €415) for non-members, or $435 (or €365) for PMI members.

The PMI-ACP Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 30 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours in Agile principles and practices are required. 

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) Certification Exam

This is another PMI Certification copy, similar to the Agile one. In this case there was another organization, the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) that had developed their own Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge (BABOK).

Currently the IIBA has less than 4000 CBAP (Certified BA Professionals) and just a few more members say in total around 5000 (they are not being precise). The issue with this is that as an organization that would mean that their annual revenue barring sales of publications would be around $675,000, but their organization boasts a board, executive council, full time staff and building in Toronto, CN. Even if they were pulling in another 40% we are speaking about a USD $1 M to $1.5 M organization which is not sufficient to both pay for staff and development of their BABOK which is now about 2 years behind schedule.

The similarities between the BABAK and PMBOK are notable since most of the BABOK developers are PMPs first and CBAPs second. They call their groupings Knowledge Areas instead of Process Groups, and their activity steps TASKS while the PMI/PMBOK calls theirs a PROCESS; however, the similarity is striking.

So eventually, PMI launched their own Business Analysis certification exam (PMI-PBA) with a clear intention to finally swallow IIBA.

For becoming a PMI-PBA, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree and 4,500 hours of business analysis experience plus 2,000 hours working in project teams within the last 8 years, or a high school diploma and 7,500 hours experience plus 2,000 hours working in project teams within the last 8 years.

Additionally, 35 hours of professional education in business analysis are required.

The PMI-PBA exam has a duration of 4 hours with 200 multiple-choice questions.

The PMI-PBA exam fee is $555 (or €465) for non-members, or $405 (or €340) for PMI members.

The PMI-PBA Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 60 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours are required. 

PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) Certification Exam

In this case PMI is competing with the Professional Risk Managers International Association (PRMIA). In this case I don’t know who arrived first (if you know, let me know). PRMIA grants the Professional Risk Manager (PRM) credential. PMI provides the Risk Management Professional credential (PMI-RMP).

For becoming a PMI-RMP, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree and 3,000 hours working in project risk management within the last 5 years, or a high school diploma and 4,500 hours of project risk management within the last 8 years.

Additionally, 30 hours of professional education in project risk management are required for bachelor’s degree holders, or 40 hours for high school degree holders.

The PMI-RMP exam has a duration of 3.5 hours with 170 multiple-choice questions.

The PMI-RMP exam fee is $670 (or €555) for non-members, or $520 (or €430) for PMI members.

The PMI-RMP Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 30 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours in Project Risk Management are required. 

PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) Certification Exam

This is another PMI Certification, focused in Project Scheduling skills. The PMI-SP Certification demonstrates the understanding of the fundamentals of the Project Scheduling discipline, including the processes and the terminology defined in the ANSI Practice Standard for Scheduling (Second Edition) guide published by the PMI.

For becoming a PMI-SP, PMI requires a bachelor’s degree and 3,500 hours working in project scheduling within the last 5 years, or a high school diploma and 5,000 hours of project scheduling within the last 8 years.

Additionally, 30 hours of professional education in project scheduling are required for bachelor’s degree holders, or 40 hours for high school degree holders.

The PMI-SP exam has a duration of 3.5 hours with 170 multiple-choice questions.

The PMI-SP exam fee is $670 (or €555) for non-members, or $520 (or €430) for PMI members.

The PMI-SP Certification expires after 3 years. For its renewal, 30 PDUs (credits) of additional education or equivalent hours in Project Scheduling are required.

I hope that I have helped you in making your decision. And finally, I want to wish you luck and great success in your IT Project Management career. Cheers!