CAPM Certification Complete Guide for Beginners

CAPM Certification Complete Guide:

CAPM certification or Certified Associate in Project Management Certification is an internally recognized professional certification offered by Project Management Institute (PMI).

This is 3 part CAPM getting started guide:

Part 1: CAPM Certification Guide (This Tutorial)
Part 2: CAPM Examination Details and some Helpful Tips
Part 3: CAPM Sample Test Questions with Solutions 

The CAPM certification is formulated as a way to test an individual’s knowledge of Project Management concepts and processes. CAPM is an entry-level project management certification for beginners and it uses Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as the main study guide.

CAPM Certification

In our upcoming sections, we will have a brief discussion on this CAPM certification including details about its registration, fees, some common FAQ’s and much more.

Why did I Decide to get CAPM Certification?

After being in the QA role for over 2 years, I was looking to advance my career to the next level.

I was looking for a certification or program that can enhance my skills and broaden my horizon at the same time. I didn’t want to restrict myself to a tester role and I had no inclination towards software code development.

Project Management seemed like a good option, hence I started researching the available certifications and programs in my region.

Now, some readers may contest my mode of learning – self-study versus certification, which is quite understandable as every individual has their own way of learning or studying. Right from the beginning, I tend to learn more if the study approach is well structured like a well-designed program or study material.

I do well if I am working towards a deadline and I can truly evaluate how much I have learned after my study. So for me enrolling in a Certification or University program seems like obvious choices.

After researching the available options and seeking guidance from others, I was interested in getting the PMP certification. Unfortunately, I did not meet the required experience eligibility criteria at that time so I could not apply for PMP certification.

Thus, I decided to apply for Entry-level Project management certification – CAPM.

We will discuss and compare the PMP and CAPM certifications in the upcoming section.


Stands forProject Management ProfessionalCertified Associate in Project Management
Who can applyExperienced Professionals with sufficient project management experienceEntry level certification for individuals who want to gain project management skills to advance their career
Eligibility CriteriaSecondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
7,500 hours leading and directing projects
35 hours of project management education
Four-year degree
4,500 hours leading and directing projects
35 hours of project management education
Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
1,500 hours of project experience
23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam
FeeMember: US$405.00Member: US$225.00
Non-member: US$555.00Non-member: US$300.00
Examination format200 multiple choice questions to be answered in 4 hours150 multiple choice questions to be answered in 3 hours
Maintaining your certificationMust earn 60 professional development units (PDUs) every 3 yearsMust retake the exam every 5 years
Main study GuideProject Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)

CAPM End-to-End Process

CAPM® End-to-End Process

Who Should take this Certification Exam?

CAPM is an introductory or entry-level certification to give an opportunity to anyone with little or no direct Project related experience in order to demonstrate his or her understanding of the basic principles and terminology of Project Management.

Therefore, this certification is beneficial in the following scenarios:

  • If you work in an organization that follows and practices PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) Guide, then knowledge of Project Management related terminology and practices will be advantageous.
  • If you wish to diversify your skills i.e. acquire the skills not directly related to testing. Sometimes acquiring skills not related to your main profile will help you to see the bigger picture or reinforce your belief that Testing is the right fit for you.
  • If you wish to stand out from amongst your team of fellow testers. For Example, if your company is looking for a resource to lead and manage a large project, a tester with demonstrated knowledge of Project Management principles along with good testing related skills would be an ideal candidate.
  • And as CAPM certification does not require post-secondary or college education, this certification can even be taken by students in their final year so that they can apply for entry level Technical Leads or Project Management jobs once they pass out.

Salary Range for CAPM Certified Professionals

A number of factors determine the salary for any role and it holds true in the case of candidates who are CAPM certified.

The factors include and are not limited to:

  • Country or Region of employment E.g. Canada versus India, the US versus Australia, etc. Every region has its own set of guidelines for determining the salary range for a combination of educational background, skill set, and experience.
  • Educational Background
  • Skillset
  • Area of expertize E.g. Performance testing, manual testing, etc.
  • Work Experience

In Canada according to the statics collected by, CAPM certified candidate’s average annual salary range is between $41,000 and $74,000. Click here to get a detailed breakdown of the salary structure along with the roles and years of experience.

In India, CAPM certified candidate’s average annual salary range is between Rs 300,000 to Rs 1,148,010. Click here to get a detailed breakdown of salary structure along with the roles and years of experience.

Preparing for the Exam

CAPM considers Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide as their main study guide and this is a must-read book. The content of the PMBOK guide is very detailed and it includes all the necessary information that you need to clear the certification exam.

Additionally you can study the material or books designed specifically for the CAPM Exam to understand how the Knowledge provided in PMBOK is applicable to real life project situations. CAPM Exam Prep Perfect by Rita Mulcahy (Author) is a highly recommended book for CAPM Exam preparation.

In addition to the PMBOK book, I tried many free sample questions and sample examinations that are available online. Nowadays numerous paid and free mobile apps for CAPM certification preparation are available in the App stores. Some of these apps feature timed mock-tests that help to prepare the user for the examination.

The examination itself consists of 150 questions that need to be answered in 3 hours. Out of the 150 questions, 15 questions are pre-test questions and do not contribute towards the examination score. We will discuss the examination content in detail in the upcoming tutorial.


Q #1) Is it mandatory for me to be a PMI member in order to apply for CAPM certification?

Answer: No.

PMI membership is optional. Being a PMI member does not carry any additional weightage for the certification. However, PMI members do have access to free the PMI resources like webinars, templates etc., and reduced examination fees.

Q #2) What is the Audit process (during the application process)?

Answer: PMI randomly selects the applications for their Audit process. If your application is selected for the audit, then you will be asked to submit further documentation to support the claims of the eligibility as mentioned in your application.

Some documentation that may be required to be submitted includes – completed audit form, copies of your secondary diploma, evidence of the project management experience as mentioned in the application or copies of evidence of the Requisite Project management credits.

You will have 90 days to submit the documentation, and the audit itself takes about 5-7 business days. You can send the documentation and completed audit forms by mail. Once the audit is complete, your one-year exam eligibility period will start from there.

Q #3) My application submission was successful and I have been notified that my one-year exam eligibility period has started. What does that mean?

Answer: This means that you will have 1 year from the date of successful application submission to appear for the exam. If you are unable to appear for the exam or successfully pass the exam in this 1 year, then you need to reapply and start a brand new application to qualify for the certification.

During this 1-year eligibility period, you can appear for the examination for a maximum of up to 3 times if you do not pass the examination in the first attempt. Every retake of the examination includes submission of re-examination fee and checking for the availability of dates to take the exam.

My recommendation is to plan the timing of the examination in such a way so as to leave some room to retake the exam again in this 1-year period if required.

Q #4) How do I schedule the certification exam?

Answer: Once you meet the criteria and become eligible, the PMI will send you further instruction about paying your examination fee and information about the examination centers. Then You are able to schedule the examination online or via telephone.

Q #5) Is CAPM examination available in languages other than English?

Answer: CAPM examination is conducted in English. Language aids are available in 13 languages including French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Italian etc.

Language aids are similar to translation where the translated questions and answers would be shown right under the original English questions. These language aids are free of cost and are designed for people who wish to appear for the examination, but their native language is not English.

Click here to get the complete list of available language aids that can be found in the CAPM handbook.

Please note that the option is to select a language aid that is included in the same notification as the payment notification of the examination fee and is easy to miss as well.

Q #6) I had acquired CAPM certification in the past. Is my certification valid for life?

Answer: No.

The CAPM certification is valid for 5 years. The 5-year cycle starts on the day when you pass the examination. After completion of year 4, your 1-year renewal period starts and you can book and appear for the re-certification examination to a maximum of 3 times in order to certify.

Following is an Example:

Certification is effective from the day you pass your exams. Let’s say you cleared your examination on ..February 1, 2015
Certification cycle (validity) starts from ..February 1,2020
Your certification cycle ends/ certification validity expiresJanuary 31,2020
Therefore you must renew your certification on or beforeJanuary 31,2020
Your renewal period where examination can be taken for renewal starts…January 31,2019

Q #7) Do I need to resubmit all the documentation again while the renewal application process?

Answer: No.

Your PMI certification system retains the previous application information, hence you do not need to submit a brand new application with the eligibility documentation. In addition, your renewal application will not be subject to the audit process.

Q #8) Is the syllabus for CAPM and PMP the same?

Answer: Yes, the syllabus is same – both the certifications are considered as Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide as their main study guide.

For CAPM, the questions are based on processes and you can expect many direct questions about process input, tools, and outputs. PMP exam questions, on the other hand, are situation based and are designed to test the ability of a candidate to apply the processes described in PMBOK Guide to real-life situations.


CAPM is an entry-level certification for beginners and its purpose is to give an opportunity to anyone with little or no direct Project related experience to demonstrate his or her understanding of the basic principles and terminology of Project Management.

Whether you work in an organization that follows and practices PMBOK Guide or if you wish to diversify your skills, CAPM certification can certainly give you an edge over the others and help you stand out amongst the fellow team members.

You do not need project management work experience to take the CAPM examination. The registration process steps are straightforward and are clearly outlined in this tutorial.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide is the main study guide for this certification and is definitely a must to read the book to prepare for the examination.

I personally have seen the benefits of acquiring this CAPM certification – either if one chooses to continue working in the testing field or take a transition into a Project Management role.

My message to all the STH readers is to continuously learn, grow and evolve. If the readers feel that CAPM certification will take you one step closer to your desired role then go for it!

CAPM certification exams being conducted now are based on Sixth Edition (New) of PMBOK Guide. Please check PMI website for more details.

Continue Reading Part #2: CAPM Examination Details and some Helpful Tips