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PMP vs. PRINCE2 certification

16 Jul 2021 By

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

PRINCE2 vs PMP

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

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

PMP vs PRINCE2 difficulty

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

DegreeHours of project experiencePrevious qualifications
PMPMinimum of secondary degreeMinimum of 4,500None
PRINCE2 FoundationNone0None
PRINCE2 PractitionerNone0Any 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 by PMI.

Duration (minutes)QuestionsPass markStyleExam format
PMP240200 multiple-choiceUnknownClosed-bookExam centre
PRINCE2 Foundation6060 multiple-choice55%Closed-bookExam centre or online using remote proctor
PRINCE2 Practitioner15068 multiple-choice55%Open-bookExam 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 this PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide comparison article.

What is examined?Pages of guidance
PMPPMBOK Guide Process groups756 (for PMBOK Guide, but other reading is recommended)
PRINCE2 FoundationPRINCE2 methodology and terminology400
PRINCE2 PractitionerApplication of the methodology to a scenario400

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 PRINCE2 course or PRINCE2 course online. PRINCE2 exams can also be purchased without training.

Exam price* (correct on 17/03/2019)
PMPPMI member: US$405
Non-member: US$555
PRINCE2 FoundationGBP299 (exam centre)
GBP320 (online)
PRINCE2 PractitionerGBP349 (exam centre)
GBP370 (online)

Popularity of PRINCE2 vs PMP

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

When did it start?Countries/regions where popularNumber of exams taken
PMP1984USA, Americas, Africa, Asia750,000*
PRINCE21996UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand1,000,000* (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.

PRINCE2 vx PMP trainer accreditation

The quality of PMP training and trainers is variable. This is because there is no accreditation for either PMP courses or trainers. Anyone can set themselves up as a PMP trainer.

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 bodyAccreditation of trainersAccreditation of courses
PMPPMINoYes
PRINCE2PeopleCert of on behalf of AXELOSYesYes

Maintaining PRINCE2 and PMP 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
PMP60 PDUs every 3 years
PRINCE2 FoundationN/A
PRINCE2 Practitioner20 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.