PRINCE2 vs PMP Certification? Get Both

PRINCE2 vs PMP is the wrong question to ask.  PRINCE2 and PMP are useful and complementary tools in your skill set – they don’t compete.  Certification in the PRINCE2 methodology is an excellent complement to your PMP credential and awards  PDUs for instructor led classes or online learning.  If you are a PMP,  PRINCE2 already recognizes your prior learning, so you can skip the PRINCE2 Foundation exam.

Prince2 VS PMP Certification

So do I need PRINCE2 and PMP certifications?

Short answer:  yes – they cover different sides of the project management coin.  They increase your earning potential, enhance your skills and improve your employability Slightly longer version: PRINCE2 and PMP are the most popular global project management certifications: but they are different:

  • PRINCE2 is a project management methodology – it covers, in detail, the processes and activities which a project management team must carry out to deliver a project of value to the sponsoring organization.
  • The PMP credential, based on the PMBOK Guide, is the sum of knowledge of the project management profession. It covers what is generally accepted on most projects, most of the time.

PRINCE2 vs PMP certification

PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner certification

What does it test?

The Practitioner level exam tests your ability to apply the PRINCE2 methodology to non complex projects.  You need to be able to analyze project management situations and make decisions based on PRINCE2.  The exam is mapped to Levels 3 and 4 (Application and Analysis) of the internationally accepted Blooms Taxonomy of learning objectives. The exam syllabus is taken entirely from the official manual: “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2”

What does the exam look like?

The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is 2.5 hours long and consists of 68 questions based on the PRINCE2 Principles, Themes and Processes.  It is based on a scenario which is about a page long.  The exam can be paper based or taken online 24/7.  The Practitioner is an open book exam. During instructor led classes the exam is taken on the last day and proctored by the instructor.  Papers are sent away for marking and results are available in 3 to 5 days.

How do I prepare to take the exam?

The 3 main methods are instructor led training, online learning or self-study.

  • Instructor led training – you should look for a PRINCE2 Accredited Training Organization (ATO) for any PRINCE2 training.  The trainers, course materials and quality management systems at the ATOs are accredited by the Exam Institute PeopleCert International.  Some ATOs are very good but others just meet the minimum requirements.  As a start point though, don’t consider any training that is not from an ATO.
  • Online learning – this is also accredited by the Exam Institute and provided by ATOs.  You study in your own time and can take the exam online 24/7 (webcam required).
  • Self-study.  You can buy the PRINCE2 manual and self-study. We recommend you do the math first before choosing this option as solo candidates have a lower pass rate in the Practitioner exam.

Does PRINCE2 recognize prior learning for PMPs?

Yes.  If you are a PMP you don’t need to take the PRINCE2 Foundation exam, which is a pre-requisite for non-PMP candidates.  You still need to learn the details of PRINCE2 at the Foundation level though.  This level of knowledge is needed to move to the higher levels of analysis and application, which are tested in the Practitioner exam. 

How do I maintain the qualification?

Every 3 years you need to retake the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam or you can accumulate 20 CPDs points per year of continuous development to remain active by join the MyPrince2 membership of AXELOS.

Project Management Professional credential

What does it test?

The PMP is based on the PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge guide.  However this is not exclusive; PMI prepares the PMP exams based on role delineation studies which aim to measure “all elements of the project management profession in terms of real settings.”  PMI say there are commonalities between the PMP exam but that the exam authors are “not bound” by the PMBOK.  There’s a lot of debate about how much of the exam is taken from the PMBOK

What does the exam look like?

The PMP exam is a 200 question multiple choice exam.  The test lasts 4 hours and is normally computer based at a Prometric testing centre.  Paper tests are available in some circumstances.  The PMP is a closed book exam – nothing can be taken into the exam centre with you.

How do I prepare to take the exam?

As with PRINCE2 you can take a class either online or with an instructor.  The best way to do this is with one of PMI’s Registered Education Providers.  The REPs have had their material checked by PMI and aligned to the PMBOK guide.  The best REPs will be skilled at closing the gap between what is in the PMBOK guide and the other areas tested in the PMP exam. If you prefer to self-study, PMI chapters often run study sessions to help members achieve PMP

What are the pre-exam requirements?

To sit the PMP you need:

  • A secondary degree, such as a high school diploma, with 5 years and 7,500 hours experience leading projects or…
  • A four year degree, such as a bachelors, with 3 years and 4,500 hours experience
  • In both cases you also need to show 35 hours of project management education

How do I maintain the qualification?

PMI require you to obtain 60 Professional Development Units in a 3 year period.  Roughly speaking 1 hour of project management eduction equals 1 PDU.  There are different ways to gain PDUs such as courses, reading or volunteer activity.

Should I certify in PRINCE2 or PMP first?

It depends on your reasons for certification

  • If you are looking for a job: your first certification should be the qualification that is most common in your market.  Check out what is used most in your industry.  If you are targeting particular employers check the LinkedIn profiles of key employees to find out which certifications they value.  Remember that many British and European organizations have large operations in Canada and many Canadian Government departments are now adopting PRINCE2.  So don’t assume by geography
  • If you are starting out in project management:  PMP might be closed to you because it requires at least 3 years experience.  So PRINCE2 Practitioner might be the best place to start, or consider PMI’s CAPM credential which has lesser requirements

In Summary

Certifications are like apple pie – you can’t get enough of them. It’s an increasingly globalized world so the PRINCE2 vs PMP question is much less relevant.  The old idea that PRINCE2 was for Europe while PMP is for North America is outdated.  Job adverts in both places are now asking for PRINCE2 or PMP equally.  In markets where one certification is prevalent you can stand out from the crowd by having the other.  Certified project managers deliver better projects and are paid better than non-certified counterparts. So, what are you waiting for?  Forget PRINCE2 vs PMP – get both!

Paul Atkin