CAPM Certification: Everything You Need to Know

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Certified Associate in Project Management

capm certification requirements

CAPM Certification Overview

CAPM certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and skills that project teams want. It proves that you’re ready to handle a wide range of projects and a variety of methods,  including predictive project management, agile principles and business analysis. Earning your CAPM prepares you to begin a career in project management.

What are the eligibility criteria for CAPM Certification?

The CAPM certification requirements are a tiered validation structure that ensures you have the necessary education and work experience. Meeting these requirements is the first step to becoming certified. Earning the CAPM certification means you must qualify for the requirements in addition to studying for and passing the CAPM exam. In this article, we will review the CAPM certification requirements in detail. After reading this guide, you should know if you are qualified to sit for the CAPM exam or not. The full eligibility requirements are listed within the Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM)® Handbook. This free guide is available from the Project Management Institute’s website.

CAPM Requirements Eligibility Quick Reference

The Project Management Institute requires that you meet some initial criteria before you are eligible to take the CAPM exam. Candidates must meet two requirements to obtain CAPM certification and sit for the exam. These criteria all focus on your level of formal education. Candidates must complete the verification section of the application to apply to take the CAPM Exam. You need a high school diploma, associate’s degree or equivalent and 23 contact hours of formal project management education.

pmp certification


  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)


  • 23 contact hours of formal project management education

CAPM Application Fees

Because the CAPM application is quite an involved process, we recommend that you gather all the relevant information related to your application before you begin. Once the application has begun, it cannot be cancelled; however, you can save your application and completed later. The first thing we recommend is that you register to become a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI)

  • It typically costs $139 to become a member, but it saves you money on exam fees.
  • The standard non-member price to take the exam is $555. The PMI member price for the exam is $405.

Side By Side Cost Breakdown:

Item PMI Member Non Member
PMI Membership Fee:  $139 $0
CAPM Application Fee: $225 $300
Total Cost: $364 $300
*Bonus – Retake Fee:  $275 $375


CAPM Certification Eligibility Breakdown in Detail

Academic Education

  • You will be asked if you have a secondary diploma or a degree. If you have a degree, you will need the name of the institution, the year you graduated, and the major of study.

Project Management Experience

Project management is a serious profession that requires communication with multiple stakeholders throughout the life of the project. While delivering the scope of work, project managers must carefully handle communications, team morale and attitudes and manage the various expectations of different stakeholders. Having substantial experience in project management is one of the requirements for certification.

  • Typically, the experience is in leading or directing projects, or project deliverables. The months of experience time frame requirement in non-overlapping months.
    • Working as a full-time project manager with two projects at the same time for two months = 2 months of experience, not 4.
  • The hours of project management experience are cumulative across all process groups, and within the last eight (8) years to be counted on the PMI PMP application.
    • Working as a full-time project manager with two projects at the same time (app.~160 hrs) for two months = 320 hours or experience.
  • What is Leading and Directing a Project?
    • It means that you have performed the role of a project manager and managed a complete project, or that you have managed part of a project. Essentially, it means that you should have done some of the tasks that are listed in PMP Exam Content Outline.

Formal Project Management Education

Project management requires advanced knowledge and understanding of project management tools, techniques and processes. In order to pass the exam, a candidate must score above a proficient level in these project management process groups.

  • You will need to show 23 contact hours of project management education.
  • The Project Management education requirement can be fulfilled by our CAPM Boot Camp Training
  • What is a Contact Hour?
    • One hour of Classroom instruction equals one contact hour.
    • If you attend an 9 hour long session with breaks in-between, then you can claim (9 hours minus the break time) as contact hours.
    • You may use educational hours from college programs.
    • There is no time period or expiration on contact hours.
    • These hours can be accrued from classroom courses or online training workshops.

For a more information about the eligibility documentation, please review the certification requirements within the Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM)® Handbook. This free guide is available from the Project Management Institute’s website. Within it, you’ll find a detailed description of the certification, an explanation of who is eligible to apply, and the process to apply. It covers everything you would ever need to about the exam from an administrative point of view.

Ready to Get Started?

formal project management education requirements

If your work experience and education meet the qualifications and requirements, we’d love to help you get started on your application and on the way to passing your exam by enrolling in one of our public CAPM Boot Camp classes.  Our instructor led courses cover all aspects of the examination as well as extremely helpful test taking strategies and exam simulators to make sure you are fully ready. 

CAPM Application Process

The online application provides a limited amount of space (500 characters). Use concise descriptions to describe the project management tasks the candidate led or directed for each project. There is no rush to do this step. We will help you with this as part of our Course. You can use our Course to satisfy the required hours of education. Before submitting the application, you will need to read and agree to PMI Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct and the Certification Agreement/Renewal Agreement. PMI® will review your application and respond within 3 to 5 business days. Once your application is approved you will receive an invitation to pay for and schedule the exam.

Scheduling your CAPM Certification exam with Pearson VUE.

  • You have one year to take the exam after your application has been approved.
  • You may take the exam up to three (3) times during the eligibility period.
  • Scheduling the Exam
    • Once you have been approved by PMI and paid to the exam fee, you can schedule your exam with Pearson VUE. You will have one year from the time your application is approved to take the exam. You may take the exam up to 3 times during this eligibility period. You can find a complete list of testing locations on the Pearson VUE PMI page.
  • Take the Exam
    • The Exam is taken at your nearest Pearson VUE test center and is 200 questions with a 4 hour time limit.


CAPM Certification Requirements FAQ’s

Does my job title have to be Project Manager?

No. Your job title in your organization doesn’t matter.

What if I haven’t managed all parts of a project?

It does not matter if you have managed a complete project or parts of a project. As long as you get 23 hours of formal prohect management education, you can apply to sit for the exam.

Do I have to be a PMI Member?

The answer is no, PMI membership is not mandatory. There are a few benefits to becoming a member:

PMI members receive a significant discount on their CAPM exam application fee. This discount is greater than what it costs to become a PMI member.
PMI members receive a free PDF copy of the PMBOK Guide.
It is easier to maintain your CAPM Certification by using free resources and tools available to you, as a PMI member.

Additionally, many local PMI chapters offer discounts to workshops, chapter meetings and events to PMI members.

Some of my education is from a company that is no longer in business. Can I use that?

PMI understands that some project work and education is hard to validate.  Ideally, you should try and obtain contact information from someone in authority who was a part of the company when you were and can validate your time and training. It doesn’t need to be a formal organizational representative however, a colleague or past co-worker is suitable.

How long does it take to process the application?

Online applications are typically processed within five business days. Individual applications submitted by mail take approximately 10 business days. Corporate applications submitted by mail take 20 business days. Once the application and fee have been processed, PMI will electronically send the Examination Scheduling Instructions, confirming that the applicant is eligible to take the exam.

What is an Audit and How will I know if I’m selected?

PMI routinely conducts random audits on a certain percentage of the CAMP certification applications. Although PMI does not publish what percentage gets audited, the general consensus is around 10-15% off applicants get selected at random for audit. PMI will notify if your application is selected for an audit, as soon as you submit your application. You will also receive an email from PMI with links to complete the audit. PMI’s officially says that it takes 5-7 days to approve the application. However, it can be approved within only a couple of days if the necessary documents are submitted quickly.

How long is my eligibility good for?

Eligibility is good for one year from the day that the application was approved. The exam may be taken three times within the eligibility period should applicants not pass on the first attempt. In some cases if you have a need to extend your eligibility, PMI will grant a 2-3 month extension.

Do I need to renew my PMI membership to stay certified?

You do not have to be a PMI member to remain CAPM certified, nor do you need to be a PMI member to get your certification. Many project managers join PMI as they are prepare for the exam because they receive a substantial discount on the exam fees.

CAPM certification holders need to earn 15 PDUs every three years to maintain the certification.