Project Management Certifications Salary Showdown - PMP vs The World

Aug. 12, 2020 |  Categories:  Certifications  

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There’s a growing array of Project Management Certifications in the market, and they all claim outlandish salary benefits and career progression opportunities. But which ones will maximize your earning power right now?

The answer to this question will vary depending on your desired country, industry, role, and your current level of experience. To provide clarity, we analyzed more than 300,000 project management job postings between March and August 2020. The certification requirements for each role were compared to the expected salaries in the job posting. Where a salary was not provided, the role was assessed by our machine learning algorithm, taking into account the attributes for that role in comparison to similar roles where a salary was provided.

We selected the top eight leading certifications in terms of overall demand for further analysis:

For accurate comparison across locations, all salary assessments were converted to USD prior to further analysis.

The Standard - PMP

Our findings quickly confirmed the status of the PMI Project Management Professional certification as the current standard in project management certifications. We found more than 12% of all project management job postings worldwide listed the PMP as a requirement. This was more than four times the next most popular certifications of CAPM and PRINCE2.

PMP has long been regarded as a gatekeeping certificate, and due to their lengthy experience requirements and auditing process - rubber-stamping the experience of those who attain it. Accordingly, we found an average salary increase upon attaining the PMP of 16% worldwide (somewhat less than PMI’s stated increase of 23% from their salary surveys).

Due to the consistent salary increase across the project management field, we recommend all eligible project managers attain their PMP as a baseline certification.See our guide on the minimalist path to getting your PMP.

Going forward, we will compare project management certifications’ earning power in comparison to both the PMP and No Certifications across locations, sectors, and experience.

Our recommendation is simple. If a certification provides a stronger salary benefit than the PMP across the areas relevant to you, obtain that certification. As you’ll see below, the right certifications in the right place, industry, and position can net you a salary increase well in excess of 20%.

Location

When comparing across countries, we note the following standout performers:

Sector

When comparing across sectors we noted the following standouts:

Position

When comparing across position descriptions, we noted large variations in the effectiveness of certifications, depending on the seniority of the role:

Certifications Excluded

We tested an additional 13 certifications against our database but found insufficient demand to draw any further conclusions on their value (other than: there's no demand for these). Certifications excluded were:

We generally found the more niche/advanced certifications (PfMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, A-CSM, etc), even if the base offerings by these certification organizations did confer a benefit.

Limitations

We have stratified the data in these charts to be as relevant as possible to as many readers as possible. For information specific to your individual attributes, check out our PM Projections Free service.

It should be noted that about 40% of the database consisted of job postings in the United States. Therefore when analyzing across Position Description and Sector, this analysis may be overly US-centric.

This analysis was conducted on job postings mid-COVID-19 pandemic. There is some indication in our data that Project Management salaries have been in decline during this period. The overall state of the PM job market will be the focus of a future discussion.

Conclusions

We found PMP remains a solid baseline for all project managers. Everyone should consider undertaking this certification. In addition:

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