What’s the best course to get into project management?

By Simon Buehring on 25 Feb 2019

Woman wondering which of the many different project management certifications she should choose.

Before choosing a course to help you get into project management, consider this. Employers are seeking candidates who can demonstrate 3 main things:

  1. Experience
  2. Soft-skills (e.g. communication skills)
  3. Project management knowledge and skills. You can show this by holding one or more of the project management certificates below.

Project management certificate types

Project management certificates are divided into 2 types:

Entry-level certificates

These teach students about project management concepts and terminology.

Higher-level certificates

These teach students to apply project management concepts and methods.

Accreditation bodies

This table shows the 4 main accreditation bodies and their project management certificates.

Accreditation body Entry-level certificate Higher-level certificate
AXELOS PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 Practitioner
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner
Association for Project Management (APM) Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) Project Management Qualification (PMQ)
The APM Group (APMG) AgilePM® Foundation AgilePM® Practitioner
Project Management Institute® (PMI®) Certified Associate Project Management (CAPM)® Project Management Professional (PMP)®

Factors to consider

Which one is best for you depends upon 3 factors:

  1. Your work location – choose a certification which is popular in the area you seek work.
  2. The popularity of the certification amongst employers – choose the most popular.
  3. The nature of the certificates. Higher-level is better if you want to manage projects. Lower is better if you want to take part in projects.

Work location

Accreditation body Popular in these countries/regions
AXELOS UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
Association for Project Management (APM) UK
The APM Group (APMG) UK, Poland
Project Management Institute® (PMI®) USA, Canada, Africa, Asia, Middle East *

*Note: PMI®-based qualifications are popular amongst US companies in the UK.

It's difficult to find information about the number of exams taken. We have made some educated guesses about them. We based these upon information in the public domain. As a training company since 2005 we've also gained knowledge about exam numbers.

Accreditation body Total number of exams Annual number of exams
AXELOS 1.2 million+ 100,000+
Association for Project Management (APM) Less than 100,000 Less than 10,000
The APM Group (APMG) 100,000+ (since 2011) 25,000+
Project Management Institute® (PMI®) 1 million+ 100,000+

Nature of the certification

Certifications broadly focus on one of these 2 areas:

  1. Knowledge – e.g. teaches students concepts and terminology
  2. Application - e.g. teaches students to apply techniques or methods.
Certificate Type What students learn?
PRINCE2 Foundation Knowledge PRINCE2 concepts and terminology
PRINCE2 Practitioner Application How to apply PRINCE2 on non-complex projects
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner Application How to apply PRINCE2 on agile projects
PFQ Knowledge Project management concepts and terminology
PMQ Application Project management techniques
AgilePM® Foundation Knowledge Agile project management concepts and terminology
AgilePM® Practitioner Application How to apply agile project management
CAPM® Knowledge Project management concepts and terminology
PMP® Application Project management techniques

Follow-on certifications

Accreditation body Higher-level certificate Recommended follow-on certificate
AXELOS PRINCE2 Practitioner APM PMQ
AXELOS PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner AgilePM® Foundation & Practitioner
APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner
APMG AgilePM® Practitioner PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner
PMI® Project Management Professional (PMP)® PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner

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