PRINCE2 vs. PMP: Which One is Better for Project Managers?

PRINCE2 vs. PMP: Which One is Better for Project Managers?

With many project management certifications available, zeroing down on the right one can feel like rolling the dice. Get the right number, and you’ll find your career prospects soaring. Everything else will probably have you trying again.

Amongst the sea of options available, the PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) and Project Management Professional (PMP) are two well-known certifications. However, how do you decide whether PMP or PRINCE2 is better for your project management career prospects? 

In this PRINCE2 vs. PMP comparison, we explore the nuances of PMP and PRINCE2 certifications that set them apart. By the end of this blog post, you will be in a better position to make an informed decision.

General Benefits of Project Management Certifications

We’ll discuss the distinct benefits of PRINCE2 and PMP certifications later. First, let’s get a general overview of the benefits of project management certifications. These include:

  • Professional credibility: A project management certification legitimizes and formally recognizes your knowledge, skills, and expertise in the project management field. You may even acquire industry-recognized certifications to demonstrate your nuanced understanding and expertise within a specific sector
  • Improved skillset: Certified project managers have advanced tools, techniques, and methodologies to manage projects effectively. Such skill enhancement improves project outcomes and client satisfaction, making it a win-win situation for all
  • Better salary prospects: Earning a project management certification can unlock career opportunities or catalyze career advancements within the existing organization. Such growth corresponds to better salary prospects
  • Universal recognition: Most project management certifications are accepted worldwide. The globally recognized certification allows project management professionals to work in different countries or geographies
  • Standardized knowledge: Since project management principles vary, certifications inject consistency through established frameworks and best practices. Such standardization of knowledge and skills makes it easier for certified project managers to work anywhere
  • Competitive edge: With project management becoming a highly competitive field, certification can grant professionals a much-needed competitive edge. Employers would prefer to hire a certified project manager against a non-certified counterpart
  • Networking opportunities: Enrolling for a project management certification involves joining professional organizations that offer such programs. It offers opportunities for project managers to network with other certified professionals and project management experts and keep up with the changing industry trends
  • Continuous learning: Professional certifications often require maintenance. Such a need for professional development and continuous learning encourages project managers to stay updated with the latest project management practices

What is PRINCE2 Certification?

PRINCE2 certificate sample
What the PRINCE2 certificate looks like via Novelvista

PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments.

It is a widely recognized project management methodology that imparts structure and scalability to project management. Its process-driven approach involves dividing projects into smaller, manageable stages with defined processes, themes, and principles.

Changes that can be justified or offer significant value to the project get incorporated, making the technique highly flexible and adaptable. It also instills a strong sense of accountability and ownership that lays the groundwork for a successful project.

Developed by AXELOS, a joint venture between the UK government and Capita, PRINCE2 found immense use in government and public sector projects. However, its reach has expanded as it enjoys a fair bit of popularity in Europe.

Advantages of getting PRINCE2 certification

Some key advantages of getting PRINCE2 certified include:

  • Provides a methodical and structured approach to project management, which improves the chances of success
  • Adapts to projects of different types, sizes, and with different requirements, making it suitable for handling projects from different industries and businesses
  • Focuses on project goals and business objectives alignment to add value to the organization
  • Defines roles and responsibilities clearly for the project team, project managers, and other stakeholders to enforce accountability and reduce ambiguity
  • Emphasizes risk management and empowers organizations to identify, assess, and manage risks effectively
  • It is a highly regarded certification, especially in the UK, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and can improve your salary prospects

What is PMP Certification?

PMP Certificate sample
What the PMP certificate looks like via Sprintzeal

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is a global, industry-recognized certification governed by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

A PMP certification signifies a high level of competence in project management methodologies and practices. The PMP course focuses on ten knowledge areas prescribed by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). These lend comprehensive insights into project management and revolve around integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholders.

PMP certification is not linked to any formal project management methodology. Such a decoupled state lends agility. PMP project management professionals rely on their knowledge and skills to manage the project management lifecycle end-to-end—from project planning to change management to project execution and completion—and modify it to meet project, organizational, or industry requirements.

Advantages of getting PMP certification

Some key advantages of getting PMP certified include: 

  • It is not tied to any specific project management methodology, which makes it highly versatile to apply across industries and project environments
  • It covers ten knowledge areas, such as scope, cost, time, quality, risk, communication, etc., to sharpen project management techniques
  • PMP certification is often a primary requirement for project management positions in countries like the United States. It also enjoys widespread global recognition
  • The certification focuses on honing skills like leadership, communication, stakeholder management, etc., which are a must in a project manager’s portfolio
  • It requires project management professionals to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs). Such a requirement paves the way for continuous learning and improvement while developing project management skills

PRINCE2 vs PMP: What are the Key Differences?

Now that you have a basic idea of PMP and PRINCE2 certifications let’s take a look at the differences between the two. Here’s a head-to-head PMP vs PRINCE2 comparison across various parameters:

Certification providers

AXELOS, a joint venture company between the Cabinet Office of the UK Government and Capita plc, a private sector business outsourcer, administers PRINCE2. 

PMP certifications are provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a globally recognized non-profit organization based in the United States.

Both organizations work for managing and setting industry standards and best practices in project management. However, the PMI carries a larger sphere of influence, which is attributable to the global appeal of PMP certification.

Advantage: PMP due to the greater popularity of the PMI.

Types of certification

The PRINCE2 certification is available at two qualification levels—Foundation and Practitioner. The Foundation certification exposes you to the PRINCE2 methodology, principles, and terminologies. The Practitioner certification involves applying the Foundation course learnings to practical life and real-world projects in the PRINCE2 environment.

PMP is a single, standalone certification available to those who have some degree of project management experience. It covers broad knowledge areas of PMP project management education and is considered an advanced credential.

Advantage: PRINCE2 for its flexible, two-tiered certification structure.

Certification prerequisites

This is where the differences between PMP and PRINCE2 certifications appear more pronounced.

The PRINCE2 Foundation course is open to anyone, regardless of their project management experience. Once an aspiring project manager has received the Foundation certification, they can take up the PRINCE2 Practitioner certification.

On the other hand, the prerequisites for PMP certification are rather elaborate. First, you need a four-year bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university or its global equivalent.

You will also need 36 months of project management experience in the last eight years. This requirement increases to 60 months for any project manager with a secondary or high school diploma. Finally, you must have 35 hours of formal project management education or CAPM certification.

Advantage: PRINCE2 for being more accessible to individuals of all experience levels.

Cost of examination

The exam cost for PMP and PRINCE2 certification is detailed below:

  • The exam fee for PMP is $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-PMI members. Note that the PMI membership costs $129 annually, with an additional $10 as a one-time application fee.
  • The exam fee for PRINCE2 (7th edition) is £380 for the Foundation course and £410 for Practitioner certification.

Besides this exam cost, both certifications may incur additional costs for study material, preparation courses, and practice exams.

Advantage: Tie. Depending on your competence, PRINCE2 grants flexibility to choose between the Foundation and Practitioner levels. It is also priced marginally lower than the PMP certification. However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive and advanced project management certification, then PMP works out to be more cost-effective regardless of whether you opt for PMI membership.

Project management framework

The comparison of PMP vs. PRINCE2 becomes more distinct when you visualize the overall project management framework.

With PRINCE2, the project management framework is more:

  • Structured, requiring a clear and organized framework to manage projects
  • Prescriptive, where a step-by-step methodology is followed in controlled environments
  • Process-driven, focusing on dividing projects into well-defined, bite-sized units
  • Flexible and adaptable, subject to the justification and value proposition of change
  • Based on clear roles and responsibilities for all the stakeholders involved

In contrast, the PMP project management framework is:

  • Versatile since it does not conform to a fixed or specified methodology
  • Descriptive, with a focus on ten knowledge areas for effective project management
  • Standardized for knowledge, skills, and techniques using the PMBOK® Guide
  • Adaptable for industry or business-specific requirements
  • Focused on the project manager being the hero of the project

Advantage: Tie. The ideal choice of a project management framework varies on a case-to-case basis. For instance, process-driven or highly structured projects may require a PRINCE2 project management roadmap. On the other hand, highly versatile projects requiring strong leadership from project managers may benefit from PMP.

Certification exam format

The PRINCE2 Foundation and Practioner exams are both multiple-choice questions. The former carries about 60 questions, while the latter has 68 and includes a few scenario-based questions. Candidates get an hour (Foundation) or 2.5 hours (Practitioner) to complete the exam and must score 55% or more to pass. While the Foundation certification involves a closed-book test, the Practitioner exam is an open-book test where candidates can refer to the official PRINCE2 manual.

The PMP exam is far more comprehensive, with some questions being situational and others being multiple-response questions. The exam format contains 180 questions with a time limit of 3 hours and 50 minutes (230 minutes). The passing score is not disclosed but is determined through a psychometric analysis.

Advantage: PRINCE2, simply because the examination contains fewer questions and is of a shorter duration. Plus, the tougher of the two is an open-book test, which greatly tips the scale in its favor.

Validity of certification and renewal

PRINCE2 certifications, both Foundation and Practitioner, carry lifelong validity with no renewal requirement.

PMP certification is valid for a period of three years from the date of issue. Further, to renew this certificate, the project manager has to earn 60 PDUs within the three-year duration.

Advantage: PRINCE2, with its lifetime validity and lack of renewal requirements, is an excellent choice for a project management professional looking for a one-time investment of time, money, and effort. However, if you are working in a dynamic industry, then the continuous learning and continuous aspect of PMP certification may be more appropriate. 

Geographic demand

The geographic demand for PMP and PRINCE2 certification is a factor of their origin.

With PRINCE2 having roots in the UK, it is far more popular in the country and the surrounding regions of Europe. It is also popular in Australia. 

With the PMI headquartered in the US, PMP finds popularity in North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

Advantage: PMP certification due to its wider reach and higher global adoption rates.

Application

The final PMP vs PRINCE2 comparison boils down to its applicability.

PRINCE2 is often used by government bodies and industries following European project management standards. As such, its scope is restricted to the public sector projects.

On the other hand, PMP is widely accepted by multinational companies due to its alignment with international project management standards. A PMP-certified project management professional can fit into various industry verticals, from IT to manufacturing to healthcare to finance!

Advantage: PMP for its higher versatility and applicability in various industries and project management environments.

PRINCE2 vs PMP: What’s More Difficult?

A comparison of PMP vs PRINCE2 in terms of difficulty is highly subjective, as perceived difficulty may vary from person to person depending on their background, experience, and comprehension.

That said, both examinations carry their own set of challenges. 

For example, PRINCE2 examinations are more rooted in real-world scenarios where you must apply project management principles to practical life. Even though you have the manual, your success depends on your problem-solving and critical thinking skills to understand the PRINCE2 framework in detail and utilize its concepts to execute projects.

Similarly, the PMP certification exam is vast and covers various project management knowledge areas and processes covered in the PMBOK® Guide. Answering its multiple-choice questions, especially those with multiple answers, requires an in-depth understanding of project management concepts, formulas, and processes. To complicate it further, it is a closed-book exam, so you must memorize everything.

Based on this high-level understanding of the exam, your career aspirations, and your personal assessment, you can decide what would be more difficult.

PRINCE2 vs PMP: Salary and Job Prospects

Now comes the juicier part of the PMP vs PRINCE2 comparison—what pays better? Or at least unlocks project management career prospects for better pay?

According to the Project Management Salary Survey (13th edition), PMP-certified project management professionals in the US make anywhere between $130,000 to $150,000 per annum. That’s a 44% increase from their non-certified counterparts. This markup in average salary can soar as high as 67% as it does in South Africa!

But how does it fare in comparison to PRINCE2?

To offset regional influence and disparity, we will compare the above salary with how much a PRINCE2-certified project manager makes in the UK.

According to PayScale, project managers with PRINCE2 certification make an average salary of £44,322 per annum. Going by the conversion rates of the day this article is written, that would be equivalent to $56,329 per annum.

For greater consistency, we went ahead and checked the pay of PMP-certified project managers on PayScale and discovered that it averages $92,690 per annum.

So, whichever way you see it, PMP helps you earn 2-3x times what PRINCE2 can. Of course, these are ballpark numbers, and you may make more (or less) depending on your project management experience, industry, and other variables.

As for career prospects, we’ve already seen that PMP enjoys widespread global recognition and is applicable across myriad industries. These qualities typically make it more promising in offering broader job prospects.

PRINCE2 vs PMP: Which One Should You Choose?

Finally, we dissect the most burning question—PMP or PRINCE2; which of the two certifications should you choose?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this. The choice between PMP and PRINCE2 certification depends on your career goals, industry preferences, geographic location, etc.

You can choose PMP if:

  • You plan to work internationally, primarily in America and parts of Asia and Africa
  • You want a versatile certification that is applicable across a variety of project types and industries
  • You wish to gain mastery over the ten key project management knowledge areas for a successful project
  • You are open to learning continuously and upskilling every three years

On the other hand, you may choose PRINCE2 if:

  • You are aiming to land a job in the UK or Europe
  • You want to make a career in the government or public sector
  • You prefer a structured and process-driven approach to project management
  • You wish to make a one-time investment in your certification efforts

Treat the above information as a rule of thumb and use it in a purely indicative manner. Ideally, you should research the job market, consider your interests and expertise, and factor in your abilities for the respective exams to make a more personalized and well-rounded decision between PMP and PRINCE2.

ClickUp: A Power Up for Your Project Management Certification Preparation

ClickUp’s Project Management software is undoubtedly every project manager’s best friend. Regardless of which project management methodology you employ, ClickUp makes project management agile. But did you also know that it can supercharge your preparation for project management certification?

Here’s how:

Task management

Drawing a relationship between two tasks in Gantt view
Create tasks, define relationships, and set milestones in ClickUp

Preparing for the PMP and PRINCE2 exams requires organized learning. ClickUp’s task priorities feature helps you divide the syllabus into smaller tasks and assign them.

Attach relevant study materials and notes to each task for reference and assign due dates and deadlines. Then tools like task lists, to-do lists, and Kanban board will visually depict your study plan so that you can gain a high-level view and stay organized as you study!

Time tracking

ClickUp 3.0 Timesheets in time tracking view
Visualize the time spent on every task with ClickUp

The time tracking tool in ClickUp is an invaluable asset for managing your time while you study. Use it to allocate specific durations for each study task and track the time spent studying in real time.

Such a time-blocking strategy lends structure and consistency to your study routine. By analyzing your time patterns, you can also identify your peak productivity hours. Use timed study templates if you do not wish to start from scratch.

Document management

Embedding Doc cards into ClickUp Whiteboards
Embed documents to your study plan using ClickUp

You will require an efficient document management tool for all the study material you’ll handle.. Fortunately, ClickUp has you covered. With ClickUp, you can create a single repository of all your study material, notes, reference documents, and all other resources. The folder structure and the tagging and labeling feature keep these documents organized and accessible. 

Progress tracking

ClickUp 3.0 List view Progress status
Search, set, or sort task statuses in the ClickUp List view to see progress across all work

Goal tracking on ClickUp helps learners visualize their progress and the milestones they’ve touched. It can also help you compare your actual progress versus the planned progress so that you can pivot your learning strategy accordingly. Celebrate micro-achievements, identify bottlenecks, and gain feedback on how you’re doing with the progress tracking tool.

So go ahead and check out ClickUp and everything it has to offer.

FAQs

1. Are PMP and PRINCE2 certifications equivalent?

No, PMP (Project Management Professional) and PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) are two distinct certifications that are not equivalent.

2. How does the PRINCE2 certification training work?

The PRINCE2 certification exam has two levels – PRINCE2 Foundation, which offers a basic introduction to PRINCE2, and PRINCE2 Practitioner, which focuses on the practical application of PRINCE2 methodologies in the real world.

PRINCE2 certification training typically involves attending accredited courses from a training organization. These courses cover PRINCE2 principles, terminologies, themes, and processes. Besides the theoretical aspect, the certification training covers practical exercises where learners apply PRINCE2 principles to real-world projects and problems.

3. What is the pay scale of PRINCE2 and PMP professionals worldwide?

The per year pay scale of PRINCE-certified professionals across different geographies is:

  • United States of America: USD 98,422
  • Canada: CAD 89,009
  • India: INR 22,00,000
  • United Kingdom: GBP 54,634
  • Australia: AUD 163,042 

The pay scale of PMP-certified professionals across the world is:

  • United States of America: USD 1,30,000
  • Canada: CAD 81,503
  • India: INR 17,70,000
  • United Kingdom: GBP 48,111
  • Australia: AUD 150,503 

Note that these figures are indicative and depend on the industry, experience, profile, etc.

4. Is PRINCE2 certification worth it? 

The value of the PRINCE2 certification depends on factors like your geographic location, career goals, and the industries you work in. Since PRINCE2 is highly regarded in the UK and Europe and largely used in government and public sector projects, it can be beneficial if your career aspirations align with these regions and industries.

5. How to register for PRINCE2 and PMP exams?

Registration for the PRINCE2 exam involves the following steps:

  • Select an accredited training organization (ATO)
  • Attend the PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner training for a prescribed number of hours
  • Register for the exam through the training organization or an accredited examination institute

For registration for the PMP exam, follow the steps given below:

  • Create an account on the Project Management Institute (PMI) website
  • Check whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the PMP exam and apply for it
  • Once the application is approved, schedule an exam through a Prometric testing center

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