A Short Guide To CAPM® Certification

Are you preparing (or planning) for CAPM exam?

Here is a comprehensive guide to know what is required and how to go about preparing for the exam.

What is CAPM®?

CAPM® stands for Certified Associate in Project Management, a industry-recognized certification for entry level project managers or project manager wannabes. This certification exam is conducted by PMI®, Project Management Institute. You need to study PMBOK latest edition to prepare for this exam.capm pm

Which means that you can use any PMP® preparation resource for appearing for CAPM® exam as well.

PMI®’s certification and credentials are prepared by practitioners so they are practical and relevant. These are distinguished by their global development and application, which means that anyone across the globe can take this certification and apply the knowledge to successfully manage projects in any industry.

PMBOK is a framework (not a methodology) with processes of project management sliced and diced across Knowledge Areas (Scope, Risk, Communication and so on) and Process Groups (Initiating, Planning, and so on) making it applicable across industries. However, there may be project management tools or practices specific to an industry that you may need to adopt as applicable.

There are many commonalities between CAPM® and PMP® exam, but for ease of consumption of information this post details all that you need to know for CAPM® at one place.

CAPM® Exam Eligibility Criteria

There are two criteria you need to meet in order to appear for the CAPM® exam:

  1. You need to have Secondary diploma (high school or equivalent) or more
  2. You need to have 1500 hrs of professional project management experience on a team – this is removed as of August 2019
  3. You need 23 contact hours of formal project management education

Any university education in project management discipline or contact hour training from a PMI® registered education provider (REP) can be considered towards 23hrs of formal project management education. There are many other avenues to get this education such as,

  • Education provided by PMI chapters
  • Employer/company sponsored training programs
  • Courses by Training schools
  • Online courses, as long as they allow you to take end-of-course test and you pass it

Also Read: CAPM Exam Lessons Learned – Elizabeth Coleman, CAPM

How to apply for CAPM® exam?

You can either apply online or by sending paper based application to PMI®. While online applications are processed in 24hrs, you need to wait for about 10 business days if you send by post.

Note that PMI® recommends that you apply online.

Note – you need to read and agree to PMI® code of ethics and professional conduct (from the handbook available on PMI.org) before applying for the exam.

CAPM® Exam Fees

The best way is to take up PMI® membership and avail discount on exam fees. This saves you money on purchase of PMBOK guide and any other project management books or resources as well.

Assuming you are a member and applying for online examination you would be paying $225 (185 Euros).

Download the handbook from PMI.org site to know fee structure for entire combination of member/non-member, online/offline, examination/re-examination and so on.

You can pay for exam fees using credit card, check, money order or wire transfer to PMI®.

Note – PMI® will refund your exam fee if you request by written means at least 30 days prior to the exam eligibility expiration date. You’ll lose $100 processing fee if you have not scheduled for the exam already.

Grab the SPECIAL discount today, use code: AUG19CAPM

What is this Audit process?

PMI® randomly selects applications for audit. If your application is selected you will get 90 days to submit following information:

  • Copies of formal education
  • Signatures of your project managers/supervisors for the projects you have mentioned on application
  • Copies of certification for completion of 23hr contact education

Note – PMI® expects you to send physical copies of these using postal mail or express courier service to their office. They do not accept scanned copies sent via email.

In case you fail the audit PMI® refunds the exam fee.

Also Read: CAPM Prep – Focusing on Concepts Helped Answer 30-35 ITTO Questions, By Srikant Deverajan, CAPM


Yes. Once you pass CAPM® exam, your certification will be valid for a period of 5 yrs. At the end of this you will need to re-certify yourself in order to continue having a valid CAPM qualification after your name. This re-certification needs to be done during fifth year of validation period and not earlier.

CAPM® Exam Content

CAPM® exam will have 150 question, to be answered in 3 hrs. These questions are solely based on latest PMBOK (5th edition right now) guide and are monitored through psychometric analysis.

However, not all question go towards grading your performance. 15 questions out of these 150 will be ‘pretest’ questions. These are not considered for grading on the exam and these are test questions to be included in the future examination, based on assessment of how well they have been understood and answered by students.

Note – you can take break(s) during exams but the clock will not be stopped. So utilize breaks wisely, to break monotony and get back afresh.

Here is the distribution of exam questions across PMBOK chapters.


Also Read: How I Passed My CAPM Exam, Copy My Study Plan! – Mandalee Daria Mason

CAPM® Exam Policies

Once your application is accepted, fee is accepted and audit (if applicable) is satisfactorily done, PMI will send you with PMI Eligibility ID, examination validity period (which is one year) start and end dates, and scheduling instructions by email.

Exams are delivered by Prometric centers. You need to schedule for the exam at www.Prometric.com/pmi based on the information you received from PMI and based on availability of slots at the center you wish to take the exam.

On the day of taking exam

You need to carry the following to Prometric center –

  • Government issued identity card
  • Your latest photograph

Arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of time at Prometric center. Sign in, show identification and provide the unique Exam ID that PMI sent you by email. You will not be allowed to take any items such as calculator, food, sweater, books, bags etc inside the exam room.

The following items will be provided by Prometric staff –

  • Calculators are built into CBT (computer based test) exam
  • Scrap paper and pencils
  • Erasable note boards and markers

Exam results

Results are given immediately after completion of the exam. Results are reported in two ways –

  • Pass/fail score based on overall performance
  • 3-point proficiency scale rating for each of the chapters: Proficient, Moderately proficient, Below proficient

Click here to see details of CAPM® Exam Simulator – a huge help in passing the exam by giving you a feel of real exam, help identify gaps in your preparation, and help optimize your exam hours to get most marks.

There you have it!

Once you get your CAPM® certificate, you get to flaunt it. 🙂 You can put CAPM® against your name in communications, web-site, business card, email signature, letter-head – as long as your credentials are valid. But PMI® prohibits from using it as part of company name, product name or domain name.

PMI® will send you certification package in 6-8 weeks after you pass the exam, which contains the following –

  • Congratulatory letter
  • Information about certification renewal
  • The CERTIFICATE itself!

And your name will be listed on online certification registry maintained by PMI®. This is however optional – you have a choice not to listed in the registry on PMI.org site.

Go for it and all the best!

Shiv Shenoy, PMP

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Nirushan Rajasekaram May 31, 2020, 5:43 pm


    Thank you for writing this article. I just have one question.
    For CAPM applicants, do we have to submitted a list of projects as part of the process? Even for those who have not had a traditional PM job/role type.

    • Shiv Shenoy June 2, 2020, 10:59 pm

      Hi Nirushan, as you can see in CAPM Handbook there is no need to show the work experience.
      The eligibility criteria is only based on education and 23 contact hr PM education.

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