PMP vs. PRINCE2 certification

By Simon Buehring on 17 May 2019

Compare PRINCE2 against PMP

This article compares the differences between PRINCE2 vs. PMP as professional project management certifications.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® is the most popular qualification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). PRINCE2 qualifications are provided by PeopleCert on behalf of AXELOS.

There are several factors to consider when weighing up PMP versus PRINCE2. These will know be explained.

Difficulty

The most difficult is PMP certification. That’s because it requires a minimum of 4,500 hours and a 4-year degree. Alternatively, 7,500 hours plus a secondary degree would suffice.

PRINCE2 Foundation certification can be obtained just by passing the exam. No experience or degree is required for either the Foundation or Practitioner levels. Several certifications can qualify you to sit the Practitioner exam.

Degree Hours of project experience Previous qualifications
PMP Minimum of secondary degree Minimum of 4,500 None
PRINCE2 Foundation None 0 None
PRINCE2 Practitioner None 0 Any of: PRINCE2 Foundation, or PMI CAPM®, or PMI PMP®, or IPMA Level A® to D®.

Exam format

The PMP exam is the longest and has the most questions. The pass mark is not published.

Duration (minutes) Questions Pass mark Style Exam format
PMP 240 200 multiple-choice Unknown Closed-book Exam centre
PRINCE2 Foundation 60 60 multiple-choice 55% Closed-book Exam centre or online using remote proctor
PRINCE2 Practitioner 150 68 multiple-choice 55% Open-book Exam centre or online using remote proctor

Syllabus

The PMP exam is based primarily upon the content of the PMBOK® Guide (sixth edition), but not exclusively. Both PRINCE2 exams are based upon the official manual Managing Successful Projects Using PRINCE2® (2017 Edition). You can read how PRINCE2 compares with the PMBOK® Guide in another article.

What is examined? Pages of guidance Syllabus
PMP PMBOK Guide Process groups 756 (for PMBOK Guide, but other reading is recommended) PMP exam outline
PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 methodology and terminology 400 PRINCE2 Foundation syllabus
PRINCE2 Practitioner Application of the methodology to a scenario 400 PRINCE2 Practitioner syllabus

Cost

PMP exams can be purchased directly from the Project Management Institute. The cost is cheaper if you are a PMI member.

The price of PRINCE2 exams is usually included in either a classroom or online course. Exams can also be purchased without training.

Exam price* (correct on 17/03/2019)
PMP PMI member: US$405
Non-member: US$555
PRINCE2 Foundation GBP299 (exam centre)
GBP320 (online)
PRINCE2 Practitioner GBP349 (exam centre)
GBP370 (online)

Popularity

Like all PMI certifications, PMP is popular in the USA, Canada, South America, Africa and Asia. PRINCE2 is popular in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

When did it start? Countries/regions where popular Number of exams taken
PMP 1984 USA, Americas, Africa, Asia 750,000*
PRINCE2 1996 UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand 1,000,000* (Foundation)
500,000* (Practitioner)

*Neither PMI nor AXELOS publish the number of exams undertaken but reasonable estimates can be given based upon information in the public domain.

Trainer accreditation

The quality of PMP training and trainers is variable. This is because there is no accreditation for either PMP courses or trainers.

All PRINCE2 courses and PRINCE2 trainers however must be accredited by PeopleCert. This means that there is a minimum level of quality if you take an accredited PRINCE2 course.

Of course, there is a lot of ‘grey market’ training provided by people or companies with no accreditation in PRINCE2. The quality of such training is likely to be poor.

Accreditation body Accreditation of trainers Accreditation of courses
PMP PMI No Yes
PRINCE2 PeopleCert of on behalf of AXELOS Yes Yes

Maintaining certification

PMI requires a candidate to maintain professional development units (PDUs). These can be obtained in a variety of ways including attending classroom, online or virtual training, reading relevant materials or attending relevant events.

Similarly, AXELOS has Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points. These can be obtained in similar ways to those of PMI’s PDUs. PRINCE2 Foundation certificate never expires, so there is no requirement for renewal.

Ways to renew
PMP 60 PDUs every 3 years
PRINCE2 Foundation N/A
PRINCE2 Practitioner 20 CPDs per year for 3 years; OR, pass Practitioner exam within 3 years.

Which is better – PMP or PRINCE2?

When deciding whether PMP or PRINCE2 is best consider these factors.

1. Do you have project management experience?

If not, take PRINCE2.

2. Do you have at least a secondary degree?

If not, take PRINCE2.

3. Where do you intend to seek work?

If it’s Europe or Australasia, choose PRINCE2, otherwise PMP.

4. Do you want to get certified quickly?

If so, choose PRINCE2 – it’s faster and easier.

5. Do you want to learn detailed project management techniques?

If so, choose PMP, although this will be a harder choice.

CAPM®, PMBOK®, Project Management Body of Knowledge®, PMP®, Project Management Professional (PMP)® are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

IPMA Level A® and IPMA Level D® are Registered Trade Marks of IPMA in Switzerland and other countries.

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