Saturday, April 27, 2013

PMP or PRINCE2? Which Is Right for You?

Certification in the Project Management sector has long been associated with improved employment opportunities and increased salaries. If you need proof, check out the latest Project Management Salary Survey from PMI taking feedback from more than 30,000 Project Management professionals.

If you’ve been following the news regularly then you’ll also know ‘the Global Economic crisis’ and ‘a shrinking job market’ appear to be the current order of the day. With that in mind, it’s no surprise Project Managers are increasingly turning to certification to get the edge over their competitors for that promotion they are looking for, or even just to hold onto their current role.

The Big Two

Those considering a certification will most often turn to the two globally recognized Project Management certifications:
  1. The Project Management Professional (PMP) - is the flagship certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMP is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) guide which is about to move to its Fifth edition. 
  2. Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) - split into Foundation and Practitioner certification is the leading offering from APMG
As the title suggests this often leads to the question “PMP or PRINCE2?”

Making A Decision

If you are looking for me to make this decision for you then you have come to the wrong place; I don’t know enough about you to make an informed decision. Even then, I believe I would abstain. What I can do, however, is give you the information that will help you draw your own conclusion. So let us take a closer look at those certifications.


This will be a big deciding factor for you dependent on experience:

PRINCE2 – there are no pre-requisites for the certification, though it is recommended you have experience working within Project Management and attend a training course before sitting the exam. This makes PRINCE2 the certification of choice for those looking to enter the sector with no previous experience.

PMP – a far more stringent set of prerequisites must be met before you can attempt the PMP exam. So if you are just breaking into the sector then you may have to wait a while before you meet these requirements:
  • A four-year degree (bachelor’s or equivalent) and at least three years’ project management experience. With 4,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education, or; 
  • A secondary diploma (high school or equivalent) with at least five years’ project management experience. With 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education. 
Methodology & Focus

Both PRINCE2 and PMP are proven methodologies practiced the world over, in fact the two overlap a great deal in their disciplines so there is not much to set them apart here. Where they really differ is their focus:
  • PMP – centers on the skills and knowledge that are required of a Project Manager as outlined in PMI’s PMBoK guide. 
  • PRINCE2 – is specifically focused on a framework within which to manage projects in order to achieve a successful outcome. 
A Question of Location

Despite being globally recognized the certifications were developed on separate continents and as such are more popular in certain locations compared to others.
  • PRINCE2 – originated from the UK and was developed by the Office of the Government as a set of products by which to manage projects. Due to its success, PRINCE2 was adopted outside of government and is now the most popular in the UK, Australia and a wide selection of European countries including Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. 
  • PMP – born and bred in ‘the good ole US of A’ by PMI, the PMP is most prevalent in North America. 
That said if you wanted to look specifically at numbers worldwide, more Project Managers hold PMP certifications than they do PRINCE2. That could be a blessing or a curse either way.


PMP appears to be the better-paid certification in the US according to popular research site PayScale:

Of course, if you look closely at the figures there are far more salaries quoted for PMP vs. PRINCE2, this is perhaps a reflection of US dominance. The outcome in the UK is much closer with PRINCE2 being more popular in terms of numbers but losing out again on salary when looking at like for like roles.

Check out PayScale if you wish to compare salaries for your locale.

Should I take both?

Having discussed this with our PMP and PRINCE2 instructors, whilst they may argue about which certification is better, they do agree that contrary to popular opinion you would actually benefit from having knowledge of both methodologies because they offer value in different areas.

This of course isn’t always possible due to financial constraints, but if someone’s footing the bill and you have the time getting to grips with PRINCE2 and PMP appears to be ‘the logical choice’ (putting on my best Spock impression).

In Summary

So there you have it, lots of information to ruminate on. I hope that you have enough information on which to help base your decision. If I were to the answer the question “PRINCE2 or PMP or both?”, I’d have to answer:

“It really depends on your circumstances”

Answered like a true politician.


Author Bio: Edward Jones looks after community engagement and content creation for Firebrand Training, Official Training Partners for APMG and PMI who offer a 4 day PMP course and 3 day PRINCE2 certification course. Ed writes on a variety of certification and training trends associated with the IT Sector.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your insights! I am now preparing for the PMP examination. I may wish to get PRINCE2 or ITIL after PMP.


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