Different PMI Certifications – Which one to choose?

Project Management Institute is well known institute in the field of certifications. PMI is founded in 1969 and since then evolved like anything in the field of Project Management as well as Agile and Business Analysis. PMI not only helping professionals in their career advancement by offering so many certifications but also provides globally recognised standards, resources, tools, academic research, publications, professional development courses and networking opportunities for the benefits of professionals.

Professional stay in touch with the subject as well as explore new trends in the area. In this article we shall look at different PMI certifications and also how to choose among them

Spectrum of PMI certifications

If we look at the certifications offered by PMI, it’s all related to Project Management in different capacities. Have a look at below diagram for a glance on it.

 Spectrum of PMI certifications

Looking at this, one thing is very clear that this spectrum of certifications have one thing in common i.e. project Management.

There are two views to look at the these certifications to have a broader vision on the certifications

  • Ladder in Project Management
  • Project Management and its specialization

Ladder in Project Management

In pure Project Management certifications, there is certain level from difficulty parse. PMI doesn’t of dependency of one certification to other as levels but the eligibility criteria differs and becomes stringent.

Ladder in Project Management

As the flow says, the depth of Project Management and its higher roles increases as you go from left to right in the diagram above. Let’s discuss these certifications one by one for clarity

Project Management and its Specialisation

Another prospective to look at PMI certifications is with respect to Project Management and its specialized areas. Below is the high level view of same

Project Management and its specialization

As we move into the details of each and every certification in next sections, we shall get clarity on purpose of each certification and who should choose it and when.

Criteria to choose

Selecting a certification is not that difficult if one is clear about the area they aspire to move forward. Below high level details on the certifications and its intent will help you in selecting one.

CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management

CAPM is for entry level aspirants which is clear from its eligibility criteria (at below link)

Definitely it’s easier but you don’t need to go for it if you are fulfilling eligibility of PMP, reason for that is very simple, with so much of experience you don’t need to take a back step and gain knowledge at entry level. This certification is based on PMBOK guide from PMI

PMP: Project Management Professional

This is the most famous Project Management certification which covers overall Project Management concepts. It’s also based on PMBOK guide which is known as complete reference guide for Project Management irrespective of engineering domains same as CAPM but the level of exam is different. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of PMP

PgMP: Program Management Professional

If you have the proven ability to manage multiple, related projects or Programs, this is specialized area for senior roles in organization. One may need to opt for Program management certification once the eligibility is met and experience is gained at program level. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of PMP

PfMP: Portfolio Management Professional

If you’re an executive or senior-level practitioner managing a portfolio of projects and programs aligned with organizational strategy and focused on doing the right work, then the PfMP is the right choice for you. One may need to opt for Portfolio management certification once the eligibility is met and experience is gained at portfolio level. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of PMP

Above are certifications related to Project management as per Ladder in Project Management we have discussed. Now we shall move the specialization certifications

PMI-ACP: PMI Agile Certified Practitioner

If you’re an experienced agile professional and have good collaboration skills, eagerly embrace complexity and thrive on rapid response times, then you need to select ACP as certification. This certification test the knowledge of agile principles and also skill with agile techniques. The advantage this agile certification having over others in market is, the scope of ACP is much vast and not limited to one flavour of agile i.e. Scrum or Lean or Kanban. So anyone aspiring for his career as agile practitioner should go for this certification. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of ACP

PMI-PBA: PMI Professional in Business Analysis

Business analysis has grown as a skill and also compliments project management. Opportunities for this role of Business Analyst is growing and certification in this domain give a very good boost to aspirants looking for long term career in this domain. This is one specialisation of Project Management overall because the focus is more on initial stages of the project and towards requirements. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of PBA

PMI-SP: PMI Scheduling Professional

Schedules are the most important part of the Project Management as missing deadlines is the reason for many failures in the projects. As PBA is focused on requirements, this specialisation of Project Management talks about scheduling. Schedule are more than just using tools and that’s the reason this specialization is there. Anyone who have advanced knowledge and experience in doing and maintaining project schedules, this certification will make lot of sense. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of SP

PMI-RMP: PMI Risk Management Professional

Risk management has grown from listing risks in an excel sheet to proper divisions in organizations to tackle risks. Especially in organization having one type of product development, there are focused risk management teams. Anyone who has ability to identify and assess risks in projects and looking for opportunities in risk management sould go for this certification. Again this is a specialization because its talks about one part of overall Project management and focuses on it. You can refer below link for eligibility and other details of RMP



Even though certifications are driven by your future aspirations and eligibility for it, a good understanding of which direction you should focus comes from understanding of different certificates and what it intents. This article gives a high level details and criteria to choose among different PMI certifications. If you focus on Project Management overall, PMP and further higher certifications are way forward and if you are looking for specialized skill you can opt from ACP, PBA, RMP & SP.

About Sparsh Goyal

A passionate IT professional, Sparsh Goyal boasts of 4.3+ years of experience. He has worked for various projects under AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Spring Boot, Python, Microservices, RESTful, RESTFUL APIs/SOAP, Scripting, Shell and JAVA. He is also working towards gaining proficiency in Oracle Cloud PaaS, DevOps, SaaS and Docker/Kubernetes. His primary and secondary skills validate his relentless pursuits of expanding his horizon and developing more as an IT person. He boasts of the following certifications: *Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer. *AWS Cloud Solutions Architect Associate. *Oracle certified JAVA programmer.

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