10 project manager certifications (What employers look for)

Updated 6 April 2023

Project managers play a key role in supporting the strategic goals of an organisation by ensuring the delivery of projects on time and within budget. Many project managers gain industry-related qualifications to verify that they have the skills and expertise to perform their roles successfully. Knowing what these certifications are and understanding trends in the industry helps you determine the appropriate credentials to earn to pursue a career in project management. In this article, we describe 10 credible project manager certifications that employers may seek and explain the typical entry requirements for each.

Find project manager jobs

What is project manager certification?

Project manager certification is the process of earning an official document that verifies a candidate's project management expertise, knowledge and skills. Earning a certification typically requires you to enrol in a face-to-face or online course. It involves a structured training programme that prepares you for a final exam, and you receive an official certification once you complete it successfully. Some training organisations have entry requirements for participants, such as a bachelor's degree, experience in project management or another project management certification.

Being an effective project manager requires a combination of skills, experience and qualifications. Earning project management certifications can enhance your CV, increase your earning potential and progress your career. Project managers work in many different industries and use their knowledge and abilities to coordinate tasks, delegate duties and ensure project effectiveness and efficiency. Possessing relevant credentials can help distinguish you from other candidates during the hiring process.

10 project manager certifications

Employers often seek candidates with project manager certifications to verify their suitability for the role. Certifications you might pursue include:

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

1. Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)

Agile methods are a popular approach to project management. The methodology involves releasing a project in stages throughout its life cycle. The Project Management Institute (PMI) recognises ACP qualifications, which they refer to as the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner or PMI-ACP certification. This globally accepted accreditation teaches popular Agile project management techniques and methodologies. The PMI-ACP demonstrates your knowledge of Agile principles.

This is a good choice if you work in an Agile team or for an organisation that is planning to adopt Agile practices. Prerequisites to enrol in an ACP course typically include a bachelor's degree, 21 hours of training in Agile methodologies and 12 months of project experience within the last five years. Eight months of Agile project experience within the last three years might also be a requirement.

Related: What does a project manager do? (With key skills for role)

2. Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP is one of the most widely recognised project management certifications, with millions of certificate holders globally. PMP certification demonstrates your ability as a leader and your capability as a project manager. It also shows that you can apply predictive, Agile and hybrid approaches to a project and determine which method is best for each. Entry requirements for a PMP certification typically include a bachelor's degree, 36 months of experience in leading projects and an existing project management certification.

Related: How to write an effective project manager CV (With example)

3. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM certification is open to project managers at any stage of their careers, so it's ideal if you're new to the role. This certification teaches the basics of project management, which would equip you for an entry-level position. Enrolment usually requires you to hold a Leaving Certificate or equivalent. Some providers also require 23 hours of project management experience, but it's often possible to fulfil this by completing a basic online training course.

4. International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) Certified Project Manager

The IAPM offers a Certified Project Manager qualification. One of the benefits of the IAPM certificate is that once you receive your qualification, it's valid for life, and there are no certification renewal costs. There's no experience requirement to enrol in this course. The exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, which you have 80 minutes to complete. Answering 65% of the questions correctly is necessary to pass. This is an ideal course for entry-level project managers.

5. IAPM Certified Agile Project Manager

As with the IAPM Certified Project Manager certification, this 80-minute exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions and requires a score of 65% to pass. There are two levels available: junior and senior certification. Your Agile project management experience determines which one you're eligible for.

6. ScrumMaster, Advanced ScrumMaster and Scrum Professional

The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) qualification demonstrates your ability to foster a productive work environment and guide others to understand Scrum values and practices. Once you achieve CSM certification, you can earn an Advanced CSM certificate, and then gain Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster certification. There are usually no prerequisites to enrol in the CSM course. The advanced and professional levels typically require CSM certification and validated work experience specific to the role of Scrum leader.

Related: What is Scrum? (Plus roles, tools, values and benefits)

7. Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Project+

If your primary function is in information technology (IT), but you could benefit from a project management certification, CompTIA Project+ may be suitable. This teaches you the concepts of project management and doesn't require you to invest significant time and money in an in-depth project management qualification. It's an ideal choice if you manage smaller projects as part of your IT role and would benefit from learning fundamental project management skills. There are no entry requirements, but at least six months to one year of experience managing projects in an IT setting is advantageous.

Related: 5 project charts for project management and their uses

8. Projects in Controlled Environments (Prince2)

The Prince2 accreditations include a foundation and practitioner-level certification. Prince2 methodology is common in the public and private sectors. It's a structured approach to project management that provides a clearly defined framework for planning, organising and controlling projects. Prince2 certification shows that you understand these systematic approaches. It's a flexible and adaptable methodology that's suitable for candidates managing any type of project, regardless of its size, complexity or sector.

It's an ideal qualification if you want to develop your practical project management experience by acquiring a globally recognised qualification. There are usually no prerequisites for entry, and courses can take as little as three days to complete, after which you sit an exam.

9. PMI Risk Management Professional

All projects involve risk, and it's often up to the project manager to mitigate these challenges to avoid delays, cost increases and missed objectives. If properly managed, risks can present opportunities or provide a competitive edge. Risk management is a fundamental part of project management, so the PMI Risk Management Professional Certification is ideal if you manage large or complex projects and want to improve risk awareness and readiness.

Having a risk management certification can distinguish you from other project managers, which can be an advantage if you're applying for a new position or seeking a promotion. This certification involves a 115-question exam. Prerequisites for entry typically include a bachelor's degree and 24 months of project risk management experience within the last five years or the leaving certificate or equivalent and 36 months of project risk management experience within the last five years.

Related: What does a risk manager do? (With duties and key skills)

10. Business Value-Oriented Project Management (BVOP) Certified Project Manager

BVOP is an Agile methodology that includes project management, product development and people management. There are no prerequisites for enrolment, but having some experience or certification as a project manager and an understanding of general and popular project management terminology is advisable. The passing score in the exam is 75%, and the certification is perpetual, so there are no ongoing renewal costs.

Explore more articles

  • 15 practical tips for conflict management in the workplace
  • 13 negotiation skills (With lists and examples)
  • Lead developer vs senior developer (key role distinctions)
  • What is a lead time and why is it important? (With examples)
  • What is organisational behaviour? (Definition and examples)
  • What is a differentiated strategy? (Benefits and examples)
  • What is enterprise marketing? (With strategy and tips)
  • What are the important characteristics of an entrepreneur?
  • Preschool teacher skills: examples and how to use on a CV
  • What is HRM or human resource management? (With importance)
  • How to become a life coach in Ireland (Steps to follow)
  • What is your gross income and how you can find it?