Difference in PMP and PgMP Certifications

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In the world of project management, there are so many types of certifications. It can be hard to decipher the differences and choose which one is best for you. With this guide, we’ll help you determine which certification—the PMP or PgMP—is right for you.

What is a PMP Certification?

PMP stands for Project Management Professional and is a certification awarded to those who meet a particular set of requirements and pass a difficult exam. A PMP certification can provide you with advancement opportunities in your current job or broaden your job horizons.

If you’re looking to stand out as a project manager, becoming a certified Project Management Professional may be the option for you.

Skilled project professionals are always in need, and according to the Project Management Institute, we’ll need to fill 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027. If that’s not enough, check out this infographic covering the top 10 reasons to get PMP certified. Having a PMP certificate proves that you are among the best and that you are skilled within the following categories:

  • People and the ability to effectively lead a project
  • Process and the ability to successfully manage projects, including their technical aspects
  • Business Environment and the ability to highlight the connection between projects, people, and organizational strategy.

Project Management Professionals will have demonstrated knowledge in three key approaches to managing projects by the time they’re certified, including:

  • Predictive or Waterfall
  • Agile
  • Hybrid

*Requirements for PMP Certification

In order to receive a PMP certification, you must meet a variety of requirements. You must have either:

  • A four-year degree,
  • 36 months leading projects, AND
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or a CAPM certification

OR

  • A high school diploma or associate’s degree,
  • 60 months leading projects, AND
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or a CAPM certification.

You’ll also need to pass the PMP examination, a 180-question exam that must be completed within 230 minutes. 

To maintain your PMP certification, you will be required to obtain 60 PDUs every three years.

What is a CAPM Certification?

CAPM stands for Certified Associate in Project Management, and it’s a great way to work towards getting a PMP certification. It’s also a great option for students, as students can choose to join the PMI (Project Management Institute) for a student rate, then take the CAPM exam at a discounted rate.

The CAPM exam doesn’t require any previous project management experience, so it’s great for people who are just starting out. It only requires a secondary degree, such as a high school diploma or associate’s degree and 23 hours of project management education. Thinking this certificate might be more appropriate for you? Check out the blog post we wrote a while back on the CAPM vs PMP: Which is the right choice for you?

The CAPM exam has 150 questions and is three hours long. To maintain your CAPM certification in the following years, you must receive 15 PDUs every 3 years to prove that you are furthering your project management education.

What is a PgMP Certification?

PgMP stands for Program Management Professional and is great for people who manage multiple related projects simultaneously. The grouping of multiple projects provides benefits that would not be otherwise achieved if the projects were completed separately.

PMI states that “The Program Management Professional (PgMP) is a visible sign of your advanced experience and skill and gives you a distinct advantage in employment and promotion.”

So, if you’re an established program manager or project manager who’s looking to take their skills to the next level, the PgMP certification may be the right choice for you.

*Requirements for PgMP Certification

The PgMP certification is the next step after the PMP certification, so the requirements for the certification are a bit more stringent. The numbers provide the proof: only about 3,000 people have earned the PgMP certification, whereas over 1 million hold the PMP certification. To receive the PgMP certification, you must have either:

  • A secondary degree, such as a high school diploma or an associate’s degree,
  • 48 months of project management experience or a PMP certification, AND
  • 84 months of program management experience within the last 15 years

OR

  • A four-year degree,
  • 48 months of project management experience or a PMP certification, AND
  • 48 months of program management experience within the last 15 years

You’ll also have to pass the PgMP evaluation, including a panel review and a 170-question exam that must be completed within four hours.

To maintain your PgMP certification throughout the years, you must earn 60 PDUs every three years.

Key Differences in PMP and PgMP Certifications

If you’re trying to decide between a PMP and PgMP certification, let’s break down the main key differences between the two certification programs.

There’s no wrong answer to this question, but it does require reflection. Are you interested in leading projects or programs? Would you rather start with a PMP certification and work your way up to a PgMP certification or start with a PgMP certification off the bat?

Much of your decision will come down to the experience you already have and how long you’re willing to wait to receive the certification. If you already have experience with program management, you may want to go for the PgMP certification.

However, if you only have project management experience, you may want to start with a PMP certification, as the PgMP certification requires between 48 and 84 months of program experience, depending on what kind of degree you have.*

In short:

  • If you have only project management experience, opt for the PMP certification.
  • If you have both project management and program management experience, opt for the PgMP certification.

The PMP certification will provide great groundwork and help you progress further and faster, making it possible for you to be eligible for the PgMP certification in no time.

Project vs. Program

The main difference between these two certification programs comes in the differentiation between project and program. Many believe that a program is just a longer version of a project, but this is not the case.

A project is a one-time, singular endeavor that has a tangible output. A project manager oversees everything involved in that singular project.

A program is a series of multiple projects that are delivered as a part of the same package. Therefore, a program manager is tasked with overseeing all the projects as one whole, singular series. In most cases, the program manager oversees several project managers.

PMP and PgMP Exam Costs

Another significant difference between the two certifications is how much it costs to take the examination. The PgMP exam is much more expensive than the PMP. However, you can get a discount on both by being a PMI member.

The PMP exam costs $555 for non-members and $405 for members.*

The PgMP exam costs $1,000 for non-members and $800 for members.*

While it may seem expensive to pay upfront, these certifications don’t expire (although there is a small renewal cost every three years). They will help increase your salary, make more jobs available to you, and overall progress your career.

How to Prepare for a PMP or PgMP Examination

The best way to prepare for these exams is to take a self-paced, online course or virtual class led by an instructor, like the ones we offer here at Velociteach. An online course will help you prepare and study for your exam while also offering you practice exams and the essential education and training you need to be eligible for the certification.

With our PMP Exam Prep + Agile boot camp, you’ll have everything you need to pass your exam. If you don’t pass your exam on the first try, we’ll give you a customized study plan to ensure you pass on the next try. If you don’t pass your exam within three tries in your first year of eligibility, we’ll give you a full refund for your course.

PMP, PgMP, and Beyond

Deciding which certification you want to go for can be a challenge, but whichever one you pick is bound to suit your career needs and goals. Not only will you become an established and credible professional in your field, but you’ll open yourself up to many new opportunities.

It doesn’t stop there. After you’ve received your PMP or PgMP, there are more ways to continue working toward higher education and future certifications. For example, the CAPM, PMP and PgMP require continued education to maintain and renew your certification. This can be done through online courses on communication, risk management, and negotiation, just to name a few.

You can also choose to be certified as a PMI-ACP, meaning you’d be a professional in leading Agile method-based projects. If you choose to start with your PMP, you can always work your way up to a PgMP as well.

There are so many options for project managers, especially with the large number of jobs that will continue to pop up over the next decade. Whether you choose the PMP or PgMP, make sure you’re prepared for your exam by taking an exam preparation course that will ensure you pass with flying colors, ensuring that your career’s future will be bright.

Sources:

Project Management Professional (PMP) | Project Management Institute

Program Management Professional (PgMP) | Project Management Institute

CAPM vs PMP Certification: Which is Right for You? | Purdue University

*These are the fees and requirements as of the date of this post.