Are you interested in or starting your career in project management? Are you looking for a way to gain credibility with project managers and employers? Then taking the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® exam should be on your “to-do” list. The CAPM® exam is developed and administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and provides recognition of individuals who are just starting their career or are interested in project management.
Those who pass the CAPM have demonstrated knowledge of the principles and terminology within A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). This may seem like a lot for someone just starting out in project management, but don’t worry, while the material may seem overwhelming there are a few important factors to consider when preparing to successfully earn your CAPM certificate. Understanding the exam eligibility requirements, learning the project management principles, developing a solid study plan and sticking to it, as well as practicing exam-taking strategies are essential ingredients for CAPM exam success.
Secret Ingredient #1: Eligibility Requirements
Being the CAPM is designed for those interested in or just starting out in the project management field the eligibility requirements are minimal; however, you still need to have an understanding of what they are prior to applying. There are two options for eligibility and the base for both is the requirement to have a secondary diploma (high school diploma / global equivalent). Beyond the base requirement of a secondary diploma, one option is having project experience, and the other option is having formal education.
The project experience option requires 1,500 hours of professional hours on a project team. If you select this option, you will need to report on your work on projects within the five project management process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing) summarizing your experience for each project. Each project should be individually recorded no matter how many projects you have worked on.
The formal education option requires 23 contact hours of formal education. If you select this option, you need to record hours spent on learning objectives in project management such as project scope, quality, cost, time, human resources, procurement, communications, risk, and integration management. You can gain these hours through several avenues to include PMI® Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s), PMI Chapters, employer-sponsored programs, training companies, distance learning companies, and university or college programs. One thing to keep in mind is one hour of classroom training equates to one contact hour. For example, if you take a university course that meets three hours a week for 15 weeks, you will earn 45 contact hours. Another note on contact hours is they must be completed prior to the time of your exam.
Secret Ingredient #2: Learning Project Management Principles
Specific principles addressed in the CAPM exam include learning project management and processes in context, as well as integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholder management. Each of these principles is covered in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). You must understand them individually and how they work together to ensure overall success in project management. It is essential to use the most current version of the PMBOK® Guide for studying and review.
Secret Ingredient #3: Developing a solid plan to study for the exam & sticking to it
As with all standardized exams, the CAPM covers a wide variety of material in a relatively short period of time. Don’t be discouraged! Remember that careful planning and structure are essential to your exam success. It is important to develop a CAPM Exam Study Plan to reduce the material into manageable portions. People often find they work well with a structured exam preparation course that provides focused instruction over a specific timeline. If you select the formal education option for meeting the eligibility requirements, you can use this coursework to help provide structure to your study plan. Just remember, if you select an online course make sure it has an end of the course assessment with a written certification of participation and completion of required hours of instruction.
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the President at OSP International LLC, a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). He is the founder and owner of The Project Management PrepCast, a regular show in the format of a traditional radio show, which teaches project managers the foundations for passing the PMP Exam. Cornelius and his team have coached over 27,000 project managers on their way to becoming PMP certified. Cornelius writes about project management training and certification.