Which one is Harder: PRINCE2 or PMP?

  • Is PRINCE2 or PMP harder?
  • Published by: André Hammer on Feb 23, 2024

Are you thinking about getting a project management certification and are not sure whether to go for PRINCE2 or PMP? Both have challenges and benefits.

Professional certifications offer a chance to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a specialist in your industry, potentially opening up more career prospects. Project managers have a range of certifications to consider, so it's vital to choose one that matches your skills and passions. This article delves into the PRINCE2 certification, the PMP certification, and the distinctions between them. It also provides guidance on selecting the right certification path.

Is PRINCE2 or PMP Harder?

Certification Overview

Both PRINCE2 and PMP certifications are well respected in project management.

Firstly, let’s look at what exactly a PRINCE2 certification entails. A PRINCE2 certification, which stands for Projects in Controlled Environments, is a project management certification that emphasizes structured approaches to achieving project success. This certification confirms your grasp of organized methods for delivering effective projects using processes, stages, and templates. It centers on fundamental frameworks and guidelines to establish a consistent project management methodology, offering guidance on assigning responsibilities and roles within projects.

Secondly, what does a PMP certification involve? A PMP certification, short for Project Management Professional, is a project management certification provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This certification confirms your understanding of universally recognized project management methodologies and standards. It covers various skills and capabilities crucial for effective project management, showcasing your proficiency in applying the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Differences Between the Two

The main differences between them are in their methodologies and frameworks.

  • PRINCE2 focuses on a structured project management approach. It provides a strong foundation in project practices. PRINCE2-certified managers handle complex projects with clearly defined processes.
  • PMP certification highlights leadership and strategic skills. It equips professionals with advanced project management skills. PMP-certified professionals excel in leading project-oriented teams for efficient results.

To become certified, individuals must meet specific criteria like project management experience, training, and passing an exam.

Fees for both certifications vary based on the level of certification and membership status with the certification bodies.

Both certifications offer benefits like higher salary potential, global recognition, and industry demand for certified professionals.

General Benefits of PRINCE2 and PMP

  • Professional Validation: Obtaining a project management certification formally acknowledges your expertise, knowledge, and skills in project management. Achieving industry-recognized certifications can further showcase your specialized understanding and proficiency within a specific industry sector.
  • Enhanced Skill Set: Certified project managers gain access to advanced tools, methodologies, and techniques that enable effective project management. This skill enhancement contributes to improved project outcomes and increased client satisfaction, benefiting both parties involved.
  • Salary Enhancement: Acquiring a project management certification can open new career opportunities or accelerate career growth within your current organization. This growth often translates into better salary prospects.
  • Global Recognition: Most project management certifications are acknowledged and accepted worldwide. This universal recognition allows certified project managers to work across different countries or regions seamlessly.
  • Standardized Knowledge: Project management certifications establish consistency by promoting established frameworks and best practices. This standardization of knowledge and skills facilitates certified project managers' ability to work effectively in diverse environments.
  • Competitive Advantage: In a competitive project management landscape, certification provides professionals with a valuable competitive edge. Employers often prefer hiring certified project managers over non-certified counterparts.
  • Networking Opportunities: Pursuing a project management certification involves joining professional organizations offering such programs. This creates networking opportunities for project managers to connect with fellow certified professionals, industry experts, and stay abreast of evolving industry trends.
  • Continuous Learning: Maintaining professional certifications necessitates ongoing professional development and continuous learning. This requirement encourages project managers to stay updated with the latest project management methodologies and practices.

Differences between PRINCE2 and PMP

Approach to Project Management

There are many certification options available in the project management realm but Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) and Project Management Professional (PMP) stand out. Both require project management knowledge and industry experience.

PMP certification focuses on managing projects effectively, while PRINCE2 certification offers a structured framework for project management. PMP follows a global standard, while PRINCE2 provides a tailored approach to project tasks.

Certified project managers have different roles: PMP professionals handle complex projects, while PRINCE2 practitioners ensure successful project delivery processes.

The choice between PRINCE2 and PMP depends on individual career goals, project management style, and project requirements. Rather than simply focusing on which is harder, we suggest taking these aspects into consideration too.

Exam Format

The PRINCE2 certification exam has multiple-choice questions. It tests knowledge on project management processes, roles, and tasks. In contrast, the PMP exam focuses more on applying project management skills and experience practically. These differences in exam format show how PRINCE2 and PMP diverge in their approaches to project management training and certification. Depending on your learning style, you may find one harder than the other.

When choosing between these certifications, think about your industry experience and career goals. Both certifications have advantages like good salary, global demand, and improved professional skills. Deciding between PRINCE2 and PMP certifications really hinges on personal preferences, expertise, where you live, and available resources for training and exam readiness.

Eligibility Criteria

To attain the PRINCE2 certification, individuals need knowledge or experience in project management. This ensures they have a good foundation before going for the certification exam.

For the PMP certification, the criteria focus more on education level and hands-on project management experience. Candidates need a degree, several hours managing projects, and specific training.

These different requirements show how PRINCE2 and PMP certifications assess project management professionals differently.

Fee Structure

The fee structure for getting PRINCE2 certification can vary depending on the training provider and where the exam is taken. Candidates usually need to pay for the training course, exam fees, and study materials.

Similarly, PMP certification also has costs like exam fees, training course fees, and study resources such as books and practice exams.

Although both certifications require an investment, having professional project management credentials will result in more career opportunities, higher salary potential, and improved project management skills.

Preparation Time

The amount of time you need for PRINCE2 or PMP certification exams depends on your project management background.

For PRINCE2, you'll need to study the methodology, processes, and roles. It might take a significant effort and time investment.

PMP certification requires even more preparation. It covers a wide range of project management practices and needs a deep understanding of complex projects.

Both certifications need dedicated study time. Use training programs, resources, and practice exams to get ready.

Further Comparison of PRINCE2 and PMP

Geography-wise Popularity

When comparing the popularity of PRINCE2 and PMP certifications based on geography, it is clear that some regions or countries favour PRINCE2 more. This preference is due to the structured approach and framework that PRINCE2 offers, making it a top choice for project managers. The United Kingdom still holds the highest number of PRINCE2 certificate holders compared to any other country. However, the global count of certificate holders is greater overall. While PRINCE2's presence continues to grow globally, there are several regions traditionally known for their popularity in PRINCE2 certifications, including the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and East and Western Europe (Poland, Denmark, Germany). In recent years, PRINCE2 has also gained significant traction in economically powerful countries like India and China, marking them as the fastest-growing regions for PRINCE2 certifications.

On the other hand,  the United States leads in employment opportunities for certified Project Management Professionals. As per a PMI survey, more than half of all PMP-certified professionals in the US are employed in IT, finance, and engineering sectors. Additionally, over 28% of surveyed PMP-certified individuals reported earning an annual salary exceeding USD 120,000. Countries with thriving economies and strong project management industries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany frequently seek certified PMPs due to high demand. Trends suggest that PRINCE2 is commonly preferred in project-focused industries, whereas PMP is well-regarded in countries needing project managers with diverse skills.

Understanding these geographical preferences can help professionals enhance their project management careers. By aligning training and certification choices with industry demands and global practices, individuals can make informed decisions about advancing their skills.

Salary Prospects

Individuals who have PRINCE2 certification have good salary opportunities in project management. Those with PMP certification also benefit from competitive salaries. Obtaining either certification can greatly enhance career progression and earnings in project management.

Career Prospects

With a PMP certification, several career paths will be open to you:

Project Coordinator: (Average salary about $54 000 annually) A project coordinator assists project managers in monitoring team performance throughout projects. They collaborate with teams to create schedules, track project status using tools like spreadsheets.

Portfolio and Program Manager: (Average salary about $91 000 annually) Portfolio and program managers handle project planning, monitoring, and reporting. They receive project instructions from executives and consolidate them into a cohesive solution, overseeing the governance structure for executive oversight.

Project Director: (Average salary about $95 000 annually) Project directors oversee all company projects, from planning to completion. They strategize project execution, monitor progress, and record completed projects.

Product Owner: (Average salary around $108 000 annually) Product owners manage product backlogs, guiding development teams to meet project goals. They set product objectives, motivate development, and facilitate client communication for project updates and feedback.

Project Manager Consultant: (Average salary around $83 000 annually ) Project management consultants assist companies in project management aspects like budgeting, scheduling, and marketing. A PMP certification enables them to lead and guide project managers, providing support to organizations or working independently.

Engineering Project Manager: (Average salary around $101 000 annually) Engineering project managers tackle real-world challenges by designing solutions and collaborating with experts for timely delivery. They work closely with project managers to guide product development and ensure client satisfaction through constant updates and feedback.

Professionals who have PRINCE2 certification can also look forward to many career opportunities in project management.  As per Glassdoor data, PRINCE2 Practitioners typically earn an average annual salary ranging from $40,000 to $242,000. A PRINCE2 certification can benefit professionals in the following roles:

  • Project Managers
  • Project Engineers
  • Software Developers
  • Project Executives
  • Associate Project Managers
  • Software Engineers

Wrapping up

Getting back to our original question of which is harder, Prince2 or PMP…

PRINCE2 and PMP are both project management methodologies. PRINCE2 is more prescriptive, and PMP covers a wider range of project management knowledge. PRINCE2 is simpler to understand and implement. PMP is more complex, requiring a deeper understanding of project management concepts.

While the difficulty of each certification varies based on an individual's background and experience in project management, PMP is renowned as one of the most challenging certifications due to its prerequisites. It demands a minimum of 4,500 hours alongside a 4-year degree, or 7,500 hours with a secondary degree. In contrast, both PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner certifications only require passing an exam, without any prior experience or degree necessary for either level. Additionally, there are multiple certifications that allow eligibility for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. The PMP exam is notably lengthy and includes the most questions, with PMI not disclosing the pass mark publicly.

Readynez offers a 4-day Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner and a 4-day PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) course and certification program, providing you with all the learning and support you need to successfully prepare for the exams and certifications.

Please reach out to us with any questions or if you would like a chat about your opportunity with the Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner or the PMP certification and how you best achieve it. 


Which certification, PRINCE2 or PMP, is considered more challenging?

The PMP certification is generally considered more challenging than PRINCE2 due to its focus on real-world application of project management principles and its rigorous exam process covering a wider range of topics.

In terms of difficulty, how do PRINCE2 and PMP compare?

PRINCE2 is generally considered less difficult than PMP. PMP has a more extensive exam with a higher pass rate requirement. PRINCE2 emphasizes a structured approach to project management, while PMP covers a broader range of project management topics.

Are there specific areas of PRINCE2 that make it more difficult than PMP?

Yes, PRINCE2's focus on tailoring its methodology to fit different projects can make it more difficult than PMP as it requires a deeper understanding of how to apply the principles in a flexible way. For example, understanding when to adapt the processes for smaller projects can be challenging.

What factors should be considered when determining which certification is harder: PRINCE2 or PMP?

The factors to consider when determining which certification is harder include your project management experience, preferred methodology (traditional vs. agile), and study time commitment.

Is there a general consensus on which certification, PRINCE2 or PMP, is tougher to obtain?

The general consensus seems to be that PMP is tougher to obtain. However, the perceived difficulty can vary depending on individual experience and skills. It's important to carefully review the requirements and study materials for each certification before deciding which one to pursue.

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