More specifically, should I consider getting the CAPM while completing graduate studies, or just wait out until I have more experience and can get the PMP?
The PMP seems to be the standard certification. I've been asked about the PMP in interviews in several different countries (as far away as Singapore). I have my Scrum Master Certification and work mainly in Scrum projects, but even still, the PMP is valued much higher than that generally speaking. If you look at the requirements for the PMP, experience pretty much trumps everything (with the assumption that you have a Bachelors since you are in graduate studies). There are other requirements, but the critical path in the myriad of checklist items is experience.
While every employer is going to be different, and having a certificate less than PMP under your belt is not going to hurt you, if it's one or the other, experience and the PMP are the most sought after.
PMP Certification is not for beginner. It is for experienced project managers who are practicing project management and need an endorsement of their knowledge, skills and experience.
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With careful preparation the PMP is not an impossible certification to get but you need a considerable amount of project management work experience in order to apply. The CAPM does not require the project management work experience that the PMP does, and the test is not as difficult as as PMP one. The CAPM shows the interviewers that you are dedicated to a career in project management but CAPM is not as recognizable and does not have the same weight as the PMP If you have the means to eventually get PMP certified then go for it, if you do not have the work experience needed you should wait until you do then go for your PMP better. Save you time and your money and have a higher probability to get your dream job
It really depends on what you intend to do.
If you already know you can get a job without it, and you're not particularly sure about going into project management, or even project management the PMI way, I would walk away.
But if you really want to make it in project management and nothing else, want to prove your motivation and want to learn about the PMBoK in the process (while also preparing for PMP a few years later), it isn't a bad idea.
Keep in mind that although CAPM is slowly becoming more and more recognized, you probably will have to explain what it is during an interview at this point, unlike PMP. And as you can imagine, the fact that it isn't a golden standard like PMP and that it doesn't require experience, means that it will always be considered a small bonus to your list of skills, not a gamechanger or mandatory requirement.
And in my opinion, there are still much better choices for entry-level certifications that I would pick over CAPM. Even if you prefer management, technical certs are great when you're a graduate (Cisco, Microsoft, Red Hat, etc.). Other general IT management certs such as Scrum.org or ITIL also have a good reputation.
But if you already have these and you're really eager to dive into the PMBoK, go ahead!