Hello, readers, and welcome back to our project management articles. In our previous article, we discussed the benefit of getting a project management certification in today’s world. In case you missed that article, you can find a link here.

One of the most common challenges faced by prospective project managers or people who want to get certified in project management is determining the criteria for selecting which project management certification is the most relevant in the project management industry today. The choice often boils down to PMP or PRINCE2, as these are the most common and recognized project management certifications in the world today.

PMP Training – Resources (Intense)

That’s why, in our article today, we will be comparing and analyzing the two certifications. We will focus on their advantages, preferred markets, project methodology, and lot more. Before we continue, it is important that you realize that the article is not here to decide the better of the two certifications, but to help you decide on which certification is best for you.

PMP is an acronym for project management professional, a professional certification issued by the project management institute (PMI). The PMI is a non-profit organization based in the USA, which was established to provide standards on how to manage projects. Prince 2 (project in controlled environment) is a project management methodology owned by AXELOS, a joint venture company in the UK. Unlike the PMP, Prince 2 certification is divided into 3 levels, which are:

  1. Prince 2 foundation (A foundation class, simple to get)
  2. Prince 2 practitioner (Same level with PMP)
  3. Prince 2 professional (Very few people do this; very difficult)

This article compares the PRINCE2 practitioner certification with PMP certification. The following factors should be considered when deciding a project management certification. We will begin by analyzing the difference between both the examination approach and methodology and then focus on an industry approach discussing its acceptance in the industry.

PMP vs. PRINCE2 (The Certification)

Project approach – The PMP and Prince2 use two distinct approaches when it comes to project management. PMP uses a knowledge-based approach to project management, emphasizing “what a project manager needs to know” in order to manage a project responsibly. Prince2, however, adopts the use of a methodology, which focuses on “what a project manager needs to do in other to successfully manage a project.” As we can notice from the approach, PMP is knowledge based while PRINCE2 is method (process) based. Most organizations often develop an approach that can be adaptable to both the PMP and PRINCE2 approaches.

Project framework – Similar to the project approach, PMP uses a prescriptive framework, which captures best practices on the ways of handling the five phases of a project (initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and project closure) while Prince2 uses a descriptive framework that explains details of what should be done when handling each knowledge area and how it should done.

Prerequisite – According to the PMI, before you can sit for the PMP certification you need to have done the following

  • A four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • At least three years of project management experience, with 4500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

OR

  • A secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent)
  • At least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects
  • 35 hours of project management education

Prince2 on the other hand has two levels of certifications, which are

  • PRINCE2 Foundation—This has no prerequisite and can be taken by anyone. It is a foundation class to give you generic project management knowledge
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner—This is the PMP equivalent and the PRINCE2 foundation is a perquisite. No work experience or project management education is required; however, it is advisable to have them before taking the examination

Certificate renewal—60 professional development units (PDU) must be accrued over a span of 3 years in order to renew the PMP license. No examination is required. PRINCE2 requires an examination to be taken once in every five years in order to renew your practitioner license.

Examination—the examination format for both certifications differs in a lot of ways.

  • PMP Examination—The PMP examination consists of 200 multiple-choice abstract questions mainly from the PMBOK (project management body of knowledge), but not limited to it. The exam spans a period of 240 minutes and requires a candidate to score 62% in order to pass the examination.
  • PRINCE2 Foundation—Similar to the PMP format, it consists of 75 questions (5 questions are trial and not graded) and lasts for 60 minutes. 35 marks (50%) are required in order to pass the examination.
  • Prince2 Practitioner—This takes an objective testing question format and contains 8 questions. Each question has 10 question items. It is an open book exam (you can use just the official PRINCE2 manual) and it lasts for 150 minutes. A minimum of 44 out of 80 marks (55%) is required to pass the practitioner examination.

PMP vs. PRINCE2 (Industry Acceptance)

Geographical Location – If you are seeking a project management certification for the purpose of securing a job, then you should be thinking of the place and country you would like to work with the certification. Although the PMP and Prince2 are both internationally recognized, they have their advantages in different countries. While the PMP is more recognized in USA, Canada, Middle East and Australia, Prince 2 is more common in UK, Europe and Australia. The location factor is mostly used as the main decider for many people especially those taking the certification to improve their employability.

In 2010, Rex Gibson, a UK-based entrepreneur and Project Management expert, used the table below in explaining the APMP (Agile project management), PMP, and PRINCE2 detailing the rate of acceptance in various countries and industries.

Table 1.

From the table above, we can see that Although PMP and PRINCE2 are both important, there is a bias for them in various industries and countries.

Market Value/Employability—It is important to understand that the market value of the certifications varies from country to country. From Table 1 above, we would realize that the PMP and PRINCE2 are being received differently in depending on the geographical location. According to the PMI and PRINCE2 websites, there has however been an increase in both certifications with the PMP recording its highest certified professionals in the United States and PRINCE2 in the UK.

Also, while recruiters might tend to be biased when advertising for the role of a project manager, research has shown that recruiters would easily substitute the availability of one for the other and are less likely to disqualify a candidate because they do not have PMP instead of PRINCE2 and vice versa. According to some recruiters, a little training is what is required for the project managers to adapt to a new organization.

Salary—One of the reasons why we take a certification is to increase our income. A quick survey using Payscale has shown that there is no major difference between the salary of the PMP and PRINCE2. The PMP, however, has a slight advantage. This means that if an increase in salary were the reason for engaging in the certification, then any one would be fine. The study also revealed that project managers in the engineering and construction sector earned slightly higher than their IT counterpart. See the figure below.

Fig 1. Employees with a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Salary Ranges by Job

Fig 2. Employees with a PRINCE 2 Certification Salary Ranges by Job

PRINCE2 Vs. PMP

PMP

PRINCE2 (Practitioner)

Geographical Location

More recognized in the USA, Canada, and Middle East

More recognized in UK, Europe, and Australia

Project Approach

A knowledge-based approach

A method-based approach

Project Framework

Prescriptive framework

Descriptive framework

Prerequisite

Both academic and project management knowledge required

PRINCE2 foundation

Certificate renewal

60 PDUs after every 3 years

Renewal examination after every 5 years

Study Materials

PMBOK

The official manual, Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

Examination

Multiple-choice abstract questions; 62% pass mark

Objective testing open book examination; 55% pass mark

Conclusion

From the above, we see the major difference between the PMP and PRINCE2 Practitioner certification. The PMP, which uses a prescriptive framework, guides you on how to answer the question “HOW”, while the PRINCE2 methodological framework answers the question WHAT, WHEN, and WHOM.

The idea of comparing the PMP with PRINCE2 is actually wrong, as they are not competitors but really two different approaches to project management. In a logical world, since PMP is a framework you actually require a methodology such as agile or PRINCE2 to implement it. They are actually supposed to be complementary rather than competitors. I would therefore recommend any interested person to take both of them if you can; however, if you do have to decide on just taking one, then your geographical location might be the decider.

PMP and PRINCE2 certifications are actually complementary and should be treated as such. Understanding the concept behind both and the ability to use them when required is key for project success with any organization .

I hope you found this article enlightening and it has helped you in taking the right decision.

Once again, thank you for reading. Do let us know if you have any questions or comments by dropping us a message in the comment box.