Best Project Management Certification Programs: Top 10 List
A project management certification can give you an advantage in your job search or help you advance your career.
Employers widely recognize these credentials as proof that you have the skills and knowledge needed to lead projects successfully from start to finish.
But finding the best project management certification programs can be tricky since there are so many options out there. This article covers the top 10 project management certifications for 2023, along with what they’re best for, their requirements, and their cost.
Best project manager certification comparison chart (top 10 highest rated)
Before we discuss the 10 best project manager certifications in greater detail, let’s briefly see what each one of them is best for and how they stack against each other in terms of affordability. If you want to read more about a specific certification, simply follow the corresponding link.
Project mgmt certification
Project Management Professional (PMP)
Associate in Project Management (APM)
IT project managers
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
Software project managers
Varies by training provider
Master Project Manager (MPM)
Project managers of marketing teams
Certified International Project Manager (IAPM)
International project management
Varies by country
Certified Six Sigma Black Belt
Lean methodology practitioners
PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner
Aspiring project managers
Price varies by location
Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP)
Managers that want to climb the career ladder
BVOP Certified Project Manager
Managers that need a budget-friendly certification
*Prices start at
What are the different types of project management certifications?
There are hundreds of different types of project management certifications that focus on various project management methodologies. Most commonly, project management certifications will revolve around the following methodologies:
Waterfall is a traditional approach to software development that involves breaking projects into sequential phases, such as initiation, analysis, design, implementation, and testing. In waterfall project management, the team completes one phase before moving on to the next one.
Agile software project management is a project framework that applies to several project management methodologies. In other words, the agile project management methodology can be seen as an overarching framework. This approach works best for projects that have tight deadlines, frequent changes, or new requirements. It’s also great for team collaboration and keeping everyone updated on the status of the project.
Lean is a management philosophy that boosts productivity and reduces waste. In lean project management, the focus is on the value of work, removing anything that doesn’t add value, reducing batch sizes to reduce setup time, standardizing processes to remove inconsistencies, and constantly looking for ways to improve using data.
Scrum is a project management framework for teams working on complex projects, such as software development projects. The scrum framework is an effective way to produce high-quality deliverables in a predictable and sustainable manner by emphasizing continuous innovation and collaboration among team members. Still wondering: What is scrum in general? Click that last hyperlink for our explainer article.
Kanban, meaning “signboard” in Japanese, is a type of management system that uses visual signals (such as cards or boards) to drive workflow and increase efficiency. Many PM tools come with a built-in Kanban system for more visual task management.
Scrumban is a process framework for software developers. It is not a standalone methodology like many other process frameworks. Instead, Scrumban is a hybridization of two other popular software development processes: Scrum and Kanban. If you’re hoping for a deeper answer to the question: What is Scrumban methodology?— then do take a look at our thorough write-up.
In short, the Six Sigma methodology focuses on improving business processes by eliminating wasteful or unnecessary steps. This is done through statistics and data.
What certifications are needed for project management?
With so many project management certifications available, it’s natural to wonder which are the most essential for you and your project management career. After all, you probably don’t need every single professional certification under the sun to manage projects successfully.
The type of certification you need would depend on various factors, such as your experience, career goals, and any skill gaps you believe you have but want to fill. We have an article covering the top project management skills for resume-building, which might help you steer your certification hunt.
Budgetary considerations are another thing to think about. And on that note, yes, there are free project management certification options out there as well.
What is the best project management certification program? Here’s our top 10 list:
There are 200+ distinct project management certifications available online—it’s a lot. We’ll make things easier for you and review 10 of the best project management certifications for 2023. The top ten list includes certificate programs like the Project Management Professional (PMP), CompTIA Project+, and PRINCE2 Practitioner, among others.
1. Project Management Professional (PMP): best project management certification overall
The Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the most popular project management certifications developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMP is a globally recognized certification that is accepted by many industries and countries.
Hence, for the purposes of this list, it’s our top project management certification overall.
It’s also the certification required by many companies to be hired as a project manager. According to stats, the median salary for PMP holders in the US is 25% higher than those without PMP certification.
Earning a PMP certification shows your future or current employer that you have the skills and experience needed to successfully lead and complete projects according to plan and within budget.
The PMP includes three key approaches: predictive (Waterfall), agile, and hybrid. The PMP exam includes topics such as managing conflict, leading a team, empowering team members, building a team, managing communications, planning and managing scope, supporting organizational change, and more.
A four-year degree, 36 months leading projects, 35 hours of project management training or CAPM Certification; or a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, 60 months leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM Certification.
PMI members: $405
2. Associate in Project Management (APM): best entry-level project management certification
The Associate in Project Management (APM) certification is offered by the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM). The APM certification is a great option for individuals looking for entry-level management certifications to break into the project management field.
People interested in taking the exam are required to watch an online course. The certification course covers topics like project life cycles, setting project goals, project management basics, teamwork and development, effective communication, budgeting, risk management, and more.
Completing the exam takes between 15 to 20 hours and consists of 50 multiple choice questions. The candidate must score at least 70% or 35 out of 50 questions to pass this exam.
The APM certification is most suitable for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels (or continuing education), entry-level practitioners, managers and project team members, and anyone with a limited understanding of project management but who cares about professional development.
In other words, having a certified associate in project management credential is one rung on the ladder onwards and upwards.
This certification has no prerequisites. However, it’s highly recommended you complete the e-course as many questions on the actual exam are drawn from the e-course.
3. CompTIA Project+: best IT project management certification
The CompTIA Project+ certification is one of the best certifications for IT project managers. Like the other certifications on this list, CompTIA Project+ is a globally recognized certification demonstrating your understanding of project management and execution.
After completing the IT project manager certification, project managers will be equipped with the knowledge of managing small to medium-sized projects. IT project team members, business analysts, team leaders, and directors can also benefit from acquiring the certification.
The exam certifies you have the know-how for managing the project life cycle, establishing appropriate communication, managing resources and stakeholders, and maintaining project documentation. The final exam consists of a maximum of 95 multiple-choice questions.
A minimum of 12 months of cumulative project management experience or education.
4. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM): top software project management certification
The Scrum Alliance offers the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification. If you want to break into the world of agile project management, this certification might be the right path. The CSM is a globally recognized certification that can be used in many industries and organizations that apply agile methodologies.
The CSM certification is designed for individuals interested in project management in an agile environment, including software engineers, business analysts, scrum team members, project managers, or anyone new to the agile way of work.
What makes the CSM an excellent software project manager certification is that after completing the exam, you’ll be educated in the fundamentals of the Scrum framework and how to guide your team to apply Scrum.
To take the exam, you must complete a two-day course taught by the most experienced agile trainers worldwide. There are hundreds of classes to choose from, so pick the one that fits your needs and budget.
You must correctly answer 37 of the 50 questions within a 60-minute time limit to pass the exam.
Completion of a two-day CSM training course.
Varies by training provider, but approximately $500 to $1,000+
5. Master Project Manager (MPM): great marketing project management certification
The Master Project Manager (MPM) certification is offered by the American Academy of Project Management. It’s modeled after the “professional licensure” model that many professionals such as pilots, engineers, doctors, and lawyers follow.
The MPM certification is designed for senior project managers and project directors with an undergraduate or master’s degree. Individuals with business and technical responsibilities can also benefit from this certification.
The MPM can also be a good certification option for project managers of marketing teams. What makes it a good marketing project manager certification is that you’ll learn a variety of project management principles and best practices you can apply in a live working environment.
3+ years of Project Management Experience.
6. Certified International Project Manager (IAPM): best international project management certification
The Certified International Project Manager (IAPM) certification is offered by the IAPM and can be a great addition to any project manager’s credentials. This certification is designed for project managers working in a global environment, including managers of distributed teams.
If you are interested in project management on a global scale, but want a certification specifically designed for international projects, this certification might be the right path for you.
The certification will serve as proof you have the proper competence in areas such as managing an international project, phases in an international project, and communication culture in international projects.
The final exam consists of 80 questions that are based on the content of the International PM Guide 2.0. Candidates need to answer at least 65% of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
Candidates must possess at least one of the following certifications: Certified Project Manager (IAPM), Certified Senior Project Manager (IAPM), Certified Agile Project Manager (IAPM) or Certified Senior Agile Project Manager (IAPM) certification.
International project experience is not mandatory but can be an advantage in the certification examination.
The fee depends on your nationality.
7. Certified Six Sigma Black Belt: great option for lean methodology followers
Six Sigma is an advanced methodology that helps businesses to reduce process variation, waste, and defects. There are different six sigma certification levels, including, White Belt, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt, and Master Black Belt.
A Black Belt certification indicates a high level of proficiency in the Six Sigma method. It also shows that an individual has acquired advanced knowledge on how to use Six Sigma principles and techniques to solve business problems.
You can take the exam both online and in person. The online exam consists of 165 questions and should be completed in 4 hours and 30 minutes. ASQ offers many books and training opportunities to help you prepare.
Two completed projects with signed affidavits, or one completed project with a signed affidavit.
Three years of work experience, in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Black Belt Body of Knowledge.
Exam fee: $538
8. PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner: top pick for aspiring project managers
The Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) certifications are more popular in the UK. They’re based on the experiences of project managers around the world, and teach you the principles and processes to manage successful projects of any size and complexity.
The PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner certifications are a great alternative to the PMP certification as they’re geared towards beginners and are globally recognized.
The PRINCE2 Foundation provides theoretical knowledge of how to plan, manage and deliver projects from start to finish, while the PRINCE2 Practitioner extends the knowledge acquired at Foundation level and equips you with the skills for managing projects in a live working environment.
Anyone interested in acquiring project management skills can benefit from the certifications, including aspiring project managers, team managers, project board members, and project support professionals.
PRINCE2 Foundation requires having completed the PRINCE2 Foundation course.
PRINCE2 Practitioner requires one of the following: PRINCE2 Foundation, Project Management Professional (PMP), CAPM, or an IPMA certification.
Pricing varies based on location.
9. Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): highest-paying project management certification
The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the same organization that created the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
It’s a good-to-have certificate for people working on agile teams or in agile companies who need proof of their knowledge of agile principles and best practices. If you’re a proponent of the
The PMI-ACP focuses on many agile approaches, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming, and test-driven development.
Acquiring the PMI certification will make you a more versatile project manager and can greatly expand your job opportunities. This makes it one of the highest-paying project certifications.
The certification exam has 120 multiple-choice questions, and you have three hours to complete it.
21 contact hours of training in agile practices.
12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years.
8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years.
10. BVOP Certified Project Manager: cheap project management certification
The BVOP Certified Project Manager certification is geared towards senior project managers experienced in project management and people management. Other roles that can benefit from this certification include agile professionals, product managers, product owners, Scrum masters, business analysts, and other professionals.
The certification is based on the Business value-oriented principles (BVOP), an agile-based framework that focuses on business value in project management activities and practices.
The BVOP will advance your skills in product management, people management, development practices, and teach you how to address issues quickly and adequately. This is the cheapest project management certification on the list.
Knowledge of the required topics from the BVOP Ultimate Guide.
Understanding of general and popular project management terminology.
Which certification in project management is best for me? Final points
Project management certifications are a great way to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in the field. Having vetted assessments of your skill set can give you a leg-up on the competition and a basis to command a higher salary.
The good news is that no matter what industry you work in, there is likely a certification for you.
But what certification in project management is best for you? That would depend on factors such as your experience, interests, career aspirations, and work history.
If you’re a beginner and want to learn the basics of project management, an entry-level certification like Associate in Project Management (APM) would be a smart choice. If you’re working on small and medium-sized IT projects, consider getting the CompTIA Project+ certification. Project managers working in a global environment can benefit from acquiring the Certified International Project Manager (IAPM) certificate.
Make sure you read the requirements of each certification to see if you meet them. Once you think you’re in good standing to qualify for an exam, go for it. Just make sure to do your exam prep well in advance!
And of course, regardless of certification, you’ll need the right project management tools for the job. In which case, you may want to take a spin around our best project management software list.
What can I do with a project management certificate?
A project management certificate is a specialized certification that shows potential employers your commitment to being deeply knowledgeable about project management best practices.
Certification may help you break into the new career field you’re interested in and give you an edge when applying for jobs.
Are there different project management certification levels?
There are several levels of project management certification, including entry-level, intermediate, and advanced. Entry-level project management programs are geared towards absolute beginners who want to learn fundamentals; intermediate programs are best suited for individuals with some years of experience; advanced programs cater to seasoned professionals who want to upgrade skills.