October 21, 2022

Top 9 PPM Certificates to boost your career and earn more money

BigPicture Team

Good certificates can highly improve your career. It’s not only an opportunity to learn new things or increase your knowledge about a topic, but a way to strengthen your position in the company and increase your payment. This is the list of the best PPM certificates for different stages of your career.

How to get a certificate?

  1. Gather basic knowledge – before you attend any course you need to do some research about the topic. Read articles, books, watch lectures about the chosen approach to learn jargon and basic terms. This will give necessary basic knowledge you can deepen during the regular course.
  2. Do the course – certificates are usually preceded by a mandatory course. Some can be done in a weekend, while others will require more days to finish. Fortunately many organizations offer online courses, so it’s easy to do it remotely.
  3. Take the exam – use all the knowledge you’ve gathered and finish the exam. If you pass, you’ll be a certified professional.
  4. Remember to renew your license – many certificates are valid only for a limited time. Remember to keep your certificates up to date.


For whom: Foundation level for people working on projects. Practitioner level for those,  who direct and manage projects.
equirements: courses available both online and offline + final exam
Course duration: 2-3 days
Exam fee: over $900

PRINCE2 is a project management method designed to be fully scalable. It can be used in a small company and multinational corporation. According to PRINCE2 Wiki, the core elements are:

  • The focus of the project is on business justification and potential long term value.
  • Defined organisation structure for the project management team so people know what is expected from them.
  • Product-based planning approach (product breakdown structure and good product descriptions).
  • Emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages making the project easier to plan and control.
  • PRINCE2 can be tailored to suit the project environment and minimise the amount of paperwork.

PRINCE2 is one of the most established project management methods. There are over a million certified professionals, and people with the certification that earn over 50% more than the average. It’s valid for three years, after that you must renew it, usually with a re-registration exam that is slightly simpler than the original exam.

PMP: Project Management Professional

For whom: for project managers with some experience
Requirements: 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification; school degree; experience in leading projects
Course duration: 35 hours
Exam fee: $555 for non-PMI members; $405 for members 

Offered by Project Management Institute (PMI), this certification is for those, who are experienced with Classic (Waterfall), Agile, and Hybrid approach. Also, to apply for this certification you must have a four-year degree and 36 months of experience leading projects. Alternatively, you can only have a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, but 60 months of experience leading projects. It’s a great choice for every industry – it confirms your ability to use soft skills and knowledge of managing projects. The exam fee for the member of PMI is $405, while non-member must pay $555, and needs to be maintained with the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program. The institute states that, according to the CIO, PMP remains one of the top project management certificates in North America and its owners can expect 25% higher median salary than without it.

CSM: Certified ScrumMaster

For whom: everyone, who is new to Scrum and Agile, but also for those, who want to deepen their knowledge
Requirements: courses are available online, both as a live lecture and self-paced course
Course time: 2 days
Exam fee: between $435 and $1,150

A gold standard for certification to some, CSM can be considered as an entry-level certificate. Why? Because later you can do more advanced certificates for positions like Agile Coach or Scrum Trainer. CSM presents the basics of Scrum framework, roles, events, and positions. Scrum Alliance offers a bunch of training courses and online exams for CSM, and an opportunity to renew your certificates, as CSM is valid for two years.

ACP: Agile Certified Practitioner

For whom: for people, who work with Agile approach
Requirements: 21 contact hours of training in agile practices; a secondary degree; 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years; 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years
Exam fee: $495 for non-PMI members; $435 for members

Another PMI certification, ACP is a proof of your knowledge of Agile principles and your skill with Agile techniques and frameworks. It contains the most popular approaches. like Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP) and test-driven development (TDD.) The exam fee is $435 for PMI members and $495 for non-members. Interestingly, to maintain the ACP you must earn 30 professional development units (PDUs) in Agile topics every three years. PDUs are one-hour blocks of time, in which you, for example, learn or teach others about project management. This way you are obliged to stay up to date with the Agile approach, meaning getting rusty with your skills is less possible.

CompTIA Project+

For whom: IT professionals who coordinate or manage small-to-medium-sized projects
Requirements: minimum 6 to 12 months of experience in managing IT projects
Exam fee: $323

This certificate is a perfect fit for managers with smaller teams and projects. CompTIA Project+ focuses on four key areas:

  • Managing the project life cycle
  • Ensuring the communication is on appropriate level
  • Managing resources and stakeholders
  • Maintaining project documentation

Project+ is popular among QA Leads, Scrum Masters, Project Coordinators, Product Owners, etc. Interestingly, among the institutions that teach or recommend Project+ you can find Accenture, Canon, HP, and… US Army and US Navy.

Comptia offers instructor-led training, study guides, and exam prep. Interestingly, CompTIA Project+ doesn’t need to be renewed.

ppm certificates

CPD: Certified Project Director

For whom: project managers with experience, who want to accelerate their careers
Requirements: 30 hours of professional self development over the last 12 months; evidence of the full-time equivalent of three years’ program or portfolio leadership experience.
Exam fee: $500

CPD is a more advanced certificate. It proves your ability to lead multiple, complex projects, programs, and portfolios. You can also make high-level calls by yourself, have initiative and a good eye to navigate within many activities. CDP isn’t concerned with any specific approach and framework. The creators believe in attendee’s critical thinking to choose the most suitable practices.

The final exam revolves around your critical reflection upon your portfolio. It happens via the virtual video-conference. During the exam you must show your use of best-practices in management and leading people, yo can control processes and are able to change in complex and dynamic environments. You also identify opportunities and are a vital part of the company’s culture.

CPD certification currently costs $500.

MPM: Master Project Manager

For whom: for Project Managers dealing with business and technical areas
Requirements: over 3 years of experience in project management + course
Exam fee: $300 

The American Academy of Project Management® certificate confirms, that you have a vast knowledge in the project management area, both in theory and the practice. It’s not revolving around any specific approach or framework. During the course, the main focus is on collaboration, practical use of tools, problem solving, and decision making. All these efforts lead to closing out the project. MPM must be renewed every 2 years.

MPM costs around $300.

DAC: Disciplined Agile Coach

For whom: Agile Coaches, people
Requirements: 3 years of agile coaching experience; The Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master (DASSM) certification
Course time: 2 days
Exam fee: based on regional pricing and membership status 

The third certification from PMI certificates on this list, DA focuses on your ability to coach teams implementing the agile methodology in day to day use. As described by PMI, the DA course focuses on learning how to align teams with organizational strategies and goals to enable agile transformation. You will also be able to facilitate culture change and transformation within and across teams. Collaborate with, and potentially be an active member of, your organization’s transformation team.

DAC is valid for one year. It can be renewed by earning & reporting 7 PDUs (Agile-related) and paying the annual fee.

The cost of DAC is based on regional pricing and membership status.

CSSBB: Certified Six Sigma Black Belt

For whom: administrators, auditors, Project Managers, QAs, executives, inspectors
Requirements: two completed projects with signed affidavits. Alternatively one completed project with a signed affidavit and three years of work experience in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Black Belt Body of Knowledge.
Exam fee: $538 for non-ASQ members; $428 for members 

The ASQ CSSBB fact sheet lists a number of benefits from this certificate, to name a few:

  • Thorough understanding of all aspects of the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) model in accordance with Six Sigma principles.
  • Basic knowledge of lean enterprise concepts, ability to identify non value-added elements and activities, ability to use specific tools.
  • Advanced understanding of project definition, team roles and responsibilities.

The certified individuals can also expect over 10% higher annual salary than those without it.According to the Six Sigma Academy, Black Belts can save companies up to $230,000 per project and can complete four to six projects per year.

The certification must be renewed every three years.

The exam fee for CSSBB is $538 in ASQ.