Lets say someone is still in university, so they still require 7500 hours of project management experience to applying for PMP. Would it be worth their while to do the CAPM or to simply wait until they get sufficient experience for PMP?

Also, if they wish to do internships in the field of Project Management would it give them an edge over someone (a student) who has a bit more experience in project management, but no certifications?

UPDATE <7 years later>: So I did end up getting the CAPM in 2012 and landed an internship at Microsoft as a Program Manager. Haven't looked back since. I don't know if CAPM was the only thing that led to the internship but I'd say it probably played a role in getting me the interview. To the Answers below saying a piece of paper can't compare to experience: yes but a piece of paper + no experience is still better than no piece of paper and no experience IMO. For other students looking to get into Project / Product / Program management, I would highly recommend trying to get an internship no matter how less it pays as long as it provides good experience. If you're unable to find a relevant internship, I'd supplement it with getting a CAPM.

  • 1
    If you're still on university, I'd say that going straight to management could give you some gaps further down the road. Get used to technology (or any other lower position within a project) on the early years out of university, otherwise you won't understand your subordinates in the future (and is likely that you may not be able to assist them either).
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Apr 3, 2012 at 3:07
  • There is a list of PMP/CAPM requirements on this post: pm.stackexchange.com/q/6603/34
    – jmort253
    Oct 19, 2012 at 22:31

4 Answers 4


If someone is doing a university degree which does not include a formal project management subject/course and wants to get into the PM field, I believe it would be beneficial to have the CAPM (rather than wait to get the experience required for the PMP certification):

  • it shows the applicant's motivation and eagerness to get into PM and demonstrates initiative;
  • it shows (s)he is familiar with a specific theory/methodology (PMI) and can be expected to have a reasonable grasp of PM concepts, processes, terminology, etc. even though (s)he doesn't have the practice;
  • it would help her/him perform PM work;
  • it would actually help her/him get their first PM-related job (over not having any certification at all).

I think it would get this person noticed and get them considered for an entry-level position in PM. Whether it gives the edge over someone else who has experience is difficult to say because there are many other things that come into play when hiring someone, not the least the specific role (and associated requirements) applied for. CAPM is an entry-level point into PM so would likely lead to project coordination / support roles to start with.

And this person can still decide to do the PMP exam once (s)he has the required experience.


First off I agree with the author that a PMP is really a waste of time and money.... Lets say you have 20 years PM experience and a degree in management.... What can they teach you that you don't already know.

I have been a manager of a PMO for 10 years and a PM with over 20 years experience, I have hired PMP people and non PMP people with experience. Let me tell you that a piece of paper you pick up on a weekend cram class isn't worth it and neither are the people who hand them out... Of the 300 people I have hired those with the PMP designation were the most incompetent and difficult to work with. First they think they are entitled and second they have no real world experience.... HR people WAKE up your throwing away a lot of good talent for a piece of worthless paper.....

Second people with PMP designations do not make more money..... Thats misleading in fact if you had one I would pay you less because you were not qualified in most cases to manage sanitation workers...

I would gladly put 5 of my best experienced Project Manager against any PMP and I will guarantee they will get any project done faster, safer and for less money than someone with a PMP... So a gain human resources managers wake up and realize that your getting ripped off and short changed by those who have PMP's. Management is an art and a science as much as it is a people skilled profession...... They teach you those things on the job and not in a three day classroom or from some PMBOK.... I read that book twice and its pretty weird if you ask me.... as is the PMP dont waste your time get experience and work with companies who's HR people know real talent!!!!

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    Hi Paul, welcome to PMSE, and thanks for your insight and sharing your experience. The experiences of others will of course differ. Because of the subjective nature of this topic and the potential for disagreement, I was wondering if there are any statistics to back this up that you could consider linking in your answer?
    – jmort253
    Apr 3, 2012 at 0:46

Hiring managers screen resumes for certificates; if you don't have the certificate, you won't be considered for the job. In my particular discipline, regulation forbids us from considering anyone who doesn't have the certificate. Companies will cite the number of certified PM's that they're bidding on projects; if you can't help them raise their number above that of the competition, they're less interested in you. (I've heard this from several hiring managers).

I'm not sure that is wise, but that's the reality in which I work. I still oppose the notion of licensing and professional certificates, but the cold hard reality is that unless you can get past the screener and into the first interview, you'll never have the chance to make the case that your experience is more valuable than a certificate.

There is relatively little opportunity cost to obtaining the certificate. Everything you do for the CAPM will transfer over to the PMP.

There are sites that show the difference in salary between a PMP certified PM and an uncertified PM with similar years of experience; I'm unaware of any site that tracks that for CAPM. There are sites that strongly assert the value of the CAPM, and sites that weakly assert the value of a CAPM. Both sites back up their assertions with logical arguments, but I haven't seen any statisitics.


I agreed with Paul. But I assume that like most things in life, perceptions. People think a person who holds a professional designation such as P.Eng (P.E) and never worked a single day in the industry (real life experience), who earned their designation working as an academia or worked in laboratory and never stepped in a plant is insane. I feel the same for PMP credential holders who do not have real life experience and have a PMP designation. Fortunately, I have P.Eng and PMP, but working 20 years in plant designing and then work at head office as a PMP, with lots of grunt work from the the beginning. People should learn to start from Bottom Up and not take shortcuts. It shows up later in your work performance and saturate the certification(s).

  • While I respect the opinion, I think a better answer would include some supporting evidence.
    – MCW
    Feb 14, 2013 at 15:18

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