26 October, 2023

Top 10 Things to Know about the CAPM | Video

CAPM is the Project Management Institute’s entry-level certification in general project management. CAPM stands for Certified Associate in Project Management. Here are the 10 key things to know about the CAPM.

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Top 10 Things to Know about the Certified Associate in Project Management

1: What the CAPM is

CAPM is the Project Management Institute’s entry-level certification in general project management.

The PMI is the world’s largest representative, accreditation, and standards body for Project Managers. It is based in the US, but many global organizations value its certifications in their recruiting and staff development processes.

2: Who the CAPM is for

As PMI’s entry-level accreditation, CAPM requires no prior Project Management knowledge or experience.

The syllabus is designed to give a thorough grounding in what PMI considers the essentials of Project Management for early-career project professionals.

So, this qualification is designed to be an early milestone in building a Project Management career. However, as I’ll discuss later, it is not the only option and may not be useful to everyone starting out in the profession.

3: Eligibility for the CAPM

CAPM candidates need to show a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, GED (general educational development), or global equivalent.

And candidates must have at least 23 contact hours of project management education completed before the exam. PMI offers its own online Project Management Basics course and there are plenty of third-party providers, which I’ll discuss later.

4: CAPM Exam Syllabus

PMI sets out the CAPM exam syllabus laid out in their Examination Content Outline (ECO). You can download this from the PMI website. I will put links to the current ECO in the description, but you should always check for the latest version before you start your preparation, because PMI changes these from time to time (approximately every 4 years).

The syllabus is divided into Domains, Tasks, and Enablers. Each Domain is defined by the tasks we need to be able to carry out. And each task is described by a series of bullet points that PMI calls enablers.

The CAPM Certification has four Domains:

  1. Project Management Fundamentals and Core Concepts – 36% of exam marks
  2. Predictive, Plan-based Methodologies – 17% of exam marks
  3. Adaptive Frameworks/Methodologies – 20% of exam marks
  4. Business Analysis Frameworks – 27% of exam marks

5: Exam Format

The CAPM exam consists of 150 questions, over 3 hours, with a 10-minute break mid-way. Questions are a mix of:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Drag and drop questions
  • Animation or comic strip questions
  • Hot-spot questions

You’ll find details of how these work in the ECO.

6: How to Prepare for the CAPM Exam

Studying for CAPM requires a minimum of 23 education hours, but you are likely to need longer. How much time will depend upon:

  • How much prior knowledge and experience you have in Project Management and Business Analysis
  • How easily you can assimilate and understand the information

PMI recommends a set of sources for the knowledge you will need – mostly from among its own publications. As a PMI member, you can get those publications as free downloads. The printed books are fiendishly expensive. PMI is a very rich organization, so I find it unconscionable that their pricing gouges legitimate learners. However, PMI will do as PMI chooses.

The recommended texts are on screen and I’ll put the details in the description.

Training and Learning for the CAPM Exam

PMI offers its own training program that covers the CAPM syllabus. If you do not wish to learn with PMI, you have three options:

  1. Learn with a PMI Approved Training Provider (ATP)
    Their training comes with pre-approved Education Hours and follows PMI’s prescription of content and format closely.
  2. Learn with a third-party business
    These are able to set their own program and learning style. Their course may be self-paced or live. And live courses can be online or in-person..
  3. Learn through your own study
    There is no requirement to use an external training provider at all. You can create your own training program and learn from the PMI’s recommended sources and/or others, in your own time. Just be sure to cover everything in the ECO.

Here are my recommendations for options 1 and 2:

7: How to Maintain your CAPM Certification

The CAPM expires after 3 years, unless you complete 15 hours of Professional Development in those 3 years – or 15 Professional Development Units (PDUs).

These must include:

  • A minimum of 9 education PDUs (with a minimum of 2 in each of the three sides of the Talent Triangle:
    • Ways of Working,
    • Power Skills, and
    • Business Acumen
  • A maximum of 6 Giving Back PDUs.
    – through sharing knowledge through presenting, teaching, and training, volunteering, or creating content and ideas.

8: What’s Next, after the CAPM?

CAPM study or certification may be an end in itself for you. Or, you may see it as a step on the road to further qualifications and certifications. The obvious next step for most CAPM holders will be PMI’s next general Project Management certification, the Project Management Professional or PMP. The eligibility requirements for this are far stiffer – mainly requiring substantial experience of leading projects.

You may also want to consider PMI’s Agile certification, PMI-ACP or their Risk Management certification, PMI-RMP.

9: What are the alternatives to CAPM?

The principal alternatives you could consider are:

10: My take on the CAPM

Without a doubt, some employers expect a base-level certification for some roles. And some will prefer or even require the CAPM. For some people, CAPM can open-up opportunities -.

I think the new CAPM certification is excellent. With a broad and well-considered syllabus, CAPM is also a good way to study and gain a strong general knowledge of the basics of the Project Management profession.

But should you seek CAPM certification? That’s a whole other question. The answer is, of course, ‘it depends’. It depends on your circumstances and your aspirations. What you want to do, in what industry, and where in the world. Depending on these, CAPM could be:

  • Essential to achieving your goals
  • A valuable asset that will give you an advantage
  • Of very little use to you at all.

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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