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PMP versus PRINCE2 certification

by PRINCE2 Online
Discover how PRINCE2 and PMP certifications differ to guide your professional development in project management.
PMP versus PRINCE2 certification  |

Understanding PMP and PRINCE2 certifications

PMP versus PRINCE2 difference |

The world of project management is dynamic, requiring not just experience but also credentials that underscore expertise. Two of the most sought-after certifications are the PMP® credential from the Project Management Institute and PRINCE2 from PeopleCert.

Professionals in this field often find themselves at a crossroads, pondering which certification would best elevate their career. Both credentials are highly respected, but they serve different purposes and are based on distinct principles, practices, and geographical preferences.

This article, updated in October 2023, aims to clarify these differences and guide you through the latest information, reflecting the standards set out in the latest PMBOK® Guide (2021) and PRINCE2’s 7th edition manual.

Comparing the difficulty of PMP and PRINCE2

PMP is renowned for its rigorous standards and demanding entry requirements. To qualify for the PMP exam, one needs a substantial amount of project management experience – a minimum of 4,500 hours coupled with a four-year degree. For those without a university degree, PMP mandates 7,500 hours of experience alongside a secondary degree.

PRINCE2, on the other hand, provides a different approach. It offers two levels of certification: PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. The Foundation level is accessible to all, as it requires no previous experience and is solely based on passing an exam. The Practitioner level, while still exam-based, has prerequisites that can be met through various qualifications. For thorough preparation, consider reviewing the PRINCE2 exam boosting tips and ideal study formats.

Hours of project experience
Previous qualifications
Minimum of secondary degree
Minimum of 4,500
PRINCE2 Foundation
PRINCE2 Practitioner
Any of: PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner (7th edition), or PMI CAPM®, or PMI PMP®, or IPMA® Levels A to D.

IPMA® is a registered trademark of IPMA in Switzerland and other countries.

Exam formats of PMP and PRINCE2

The format of the PMP exam is extensive, with a large set of questions designed to test a candidate’s endurance and knowledge. In contrast, PMI has not made the passing score public. Those preparing for the PMP certification should be ready for a comprehensive test of their project management acumen.

While the PRINCE2 exams have a different structure, they also challenge an individual’s understanding of the methodology. The Foundation exam tests basic knowledge, while the Practitioner exam evaluates the application of that knowledge in different project scenarios. As candidates prepare, they might find value in exploring PRINCE2’s sample foundation exam questions and practitioner scenarios.

Duration (minutes)
Pass mark
Exam format
200 multiple-choice
Closed book
Exam centre
PRINCE2 Foundation
60 multiple-choice
Closed book
Online using remote proctor
PRINCE2 Practitioner
70 objective style
Open book
Online using remote proctor

Syllabus content for PMP and PRINCE2

The PMP exam is anchored in the PMBOK® Guide’s framework, although it encompasses various other sources. The exam aims to assess a candidate’s competency in leading and directing projects. Topics cover a broad spectrum, including new trends and emerging practices, tailored to the core competencies that a modern project manager should possess.

In contrast, PRINCE2 exams focus on the Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 manual. This approach to project management is process-based, emphasising controlled stages and clear roles and responsibilities. For an in-depth understanding of how the two methodologies dovetail or diverge, peruse the comprehensive PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide comparison article.

What is examined?
Pages of guidance
People, Process, Environment from the PMBOK Guide
250 (for PMBOK Guide, but other reading is recommended)
PRINCE2 Foundation
PRINCE2 methodology and terminology
PRINCE2 Practitioner
Application of the methodology to a fictional scenario

Costs of PMP and PRINCE2 exams

One of the practical considerations when choosing a certification is cost. PMP exams, sold directly by PMI, offer a discounted rate for members. For non-members, the fee is higher, but it reflects the value and global recognition of the credential.

PRINCE2 exam costs are often bundled with training courses, which provides a combined learning and certification package. However, candidates also have the option to purchase the exams separately, providing flexibility in how they choose to study. When assessing the total investment, it’s advisable to consider not just the exam fees, but also ancillary costs such as study materials and potential re-sit fees.

Global popularity of PMP and PRINCE2

The popularity of PMP vs. PRINCE2 often comes down to regional preferences. PMP is particularly prevalent in North and South America, the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia. It’s a certification that has become synonymous with the project management profession in these areas.

When did it start?
Countries/regions where popular
Number of exams taken
USA, Americas, Africa, Asia
UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand
2,000,000* (Foundation) and/or (Practitioner)

Conversely, PRINCE2 enjoys widespread adoption in the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Its structure and governmental endorsement in certain regions make it the go-to certification for many organisations and professionals. The popularity between the two certifications reflects the diverse ecosystem of project management standards globally. For more insights, consider reading about PRINCE2’s growing popularity.

Trainer accreditation in PMP and PRINCE2

The quality of training can significantly impact a candidate’s success. For PMP, the variance in training quality is notable due to the lack of an official accreditation process for trainers or courses. Anyone with enough experience can offer PMP training, which leads to a wide range in the quality of instruction.

In contrast, PRINCE2 maintains a regulated training environment. Courses and trainers require accreditation by PeopleCert on behalf of AXELOS. This accreditation ensures a consistent level of quality and adherence to the PRINCE2 methodology. The distinction is clear: with PRINCE2, the assurance of quality training comes as standard.

Accreditation body
Accreditation of trainers
Accreditation of courses

Continuing education for PMP and PRINCE2

Credentialed PMP professionals must engage in ongoing professional development to maintain their status. PMI requires the accumulation of PDUs, which can be earned through various professional activities, from training courses to self-directed learning.

For PRINCE2, AXELOS has established a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme similar to PMI’s PDUs. However, the PRINCE2 Foundation certification does not expire, meaning there’s no need for renewal, which can be particularly attractive for those looking for a one-time certification effort. The PRINCE2 Practitioner certification does require renewal, and maintaining it involves a mix of professional development activities and potentially re-sitting the exam.

Ways to renew
60 PDUs every 3 years
PRINCE2 Foundation
PRINCE2 Practitioner
20 CPDs per year for 3 years; OR, pass Practitioner exam within 3 years.

Common questions on choosing PMP or PRINCE2

Professionals often ask if they should pursue PMP or PRINCE2 certification, reflecting the pivotal role these credentials play in career progression. Each certification has its strengths and aligns with different career paths, industries, and geographic preferences. While this article has offered a comparative overview, professionals should assess their specific career goals and the demands of the job market they’re targeting. For personalised guidance, readers are encouraged to consult the various resources available, including FAQs and career advice tailored to PRINCE2.

Master PRINCE2 with Industry Experts

We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of project management training, specializing in PRINCE2® and PRINCE2 Agile® methodologies. Our approach is deeply rooted in practicality — we don’t just teach theory, we immerse you in real-world scenarios. Our trainers are seasoned professionals who have been in the trenches and know what it takes to succeed. They’re not just instructors; they’re mentors who will understand your unique challenges and steer you toward excellence.

Get in touch

For information on PRINCE2 or PRINCE2 Agile training courses within the UK or internationally, please reach out to us. Our dedicated team of experts, who specialize in the PRINCE2 methodologies, are eager to discuss your educational or professional needs.

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