Top 10 Program Associate Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best program associate certifications available today and discusses their benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 15 min read

Certifications are an important asset for a program associate in the job market, as they demonstrate that a candidate has the knowledge and skills necessary to perform well in the position. Certifications provide employers with evidence of a program associate’s competency, which can help them determine if a candidate is qualified for the job. They also show potential employers that the program associate is committed to professional development and staying up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Additionally, certifications may be required by certain employers or organizations for certain positions, so having them can make it easier for a program associate to secure employment.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Program Associates and explains how they can help to further a program associate's career.

What are Program Associate Certifications?

Program associate certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual's knowledge and expertise in the field of program management. This certification is offered by various organizations, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI), International Association of Program Managers (IAPM), and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

The purpose of program associate certification is to provide job seekers with a way to demonstrate their proficiency in program management principles and best practices. It also serves as a way for employers to assess potential job candidates' qualifications. By obtaining this certification, individuals can demonstrate their understanding of program management concepts, such as project planning, risk management, budgeting, resource allocation, stakeholder management, quality control and more.

Having this certification can help individuals stand out from other job candidates when applying for positions in program or project management. It also shows employers that the individual has gone through rigorous training and has the necessary skills to succeed in the position. Additionally, having this certification can increase career advancement opportunities within an organization or open up new career paths outside of it.

Pro Tip: When considering a program associate certification, make sure to research the specific requirements and benefits of the program. This will help you determine if it is the right fit for your career goals and ensure that you get the most out of your certification.

Related: What does a Program Associate do?

Top 10 Program Associate Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Program Associates today.

1. Certified Program Associate (CPA)

Certified Program Associate (CPA) is a certification program offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to provide project managers with the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully manage projects of any size. The CPA certification is a mid-level credential that requires a combination of education, experience, and examination.

To become certified as a CPA, you must have at least three years of professional project management experience and complete 35 hours of professional development activities related to project management. You must also pass the CPA exam, which consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as project management processes, tools, techniques, and best practices.

The exam can be taken online or in person at an approved testing center. The cost for the exam varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $400 to $500 USD. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and results are available immediately after completion.

Once you pass the exam, you will receive your CPA certificate within two weeks. To maintain your certification status, you must earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years by participating in professional development activities related to project management.

2. Certified Program Associate Professional (CPAP)

Certified Program Associate Professional (CPAP) is a professional certification that recognizes an individual's expertise in program management and project management. It is designed for professionals who are responsible for planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and evaluating programs and projects. The certification requires the successful completion of a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as program management principles, project management processes, project risk management, and program evaluation.

The CPAP certification typically takes about six months to complete. To get the CPAP certification, you must first complete an approved training course or workshop in program or project management. After completing the training course or workshop, you must pass the CPAP exam with a score of 70% or higher. The cost of the CPAP certification varies depending on the provider offering it; however, it is usually around $500 to $1,000 USD.

3. Certified Project Management Professional (PMP)

Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) is a professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is the most popular and globally recognized project management certification. PMP demonstrates an individual’s expertise in leading and directing projects, as well as their knowledge of project management principles and practices.

It typically takes between 6 to 12 months to get the PMP certification. To obtain the PMP certification, individuals must meet certain educational and experience requirements, agree to adhere to a code of professional conduct, and pass an exam.

To become eligible for the PMP exam, individuals must have either:

  • A four-year degree (bachelor’s or global equivalent) with at least three years of project management experience, with 4,500 hours leading and directing projects; OR
  • A secondary diploma (high school or global equivalent) with at least five years of project management experience, with 7,500 hours leading and directing projects.

The fee for taking the PMP exam varies depending on whether you are a member of PMI or not. For non-members it costs $555 while members pay $405.

4. Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is a professional certification program designed to teach individuals the basics of Scrum, an Agile project management methodology. It is the most widely recognized certification for Agile professionals and provides a foundation for understanding and applying Scrum principles in any organization.

It typically takes two days to complete the CSM course and pass the exam. The course covers topics such as Scrum roles, events, artifacts, and tools. After completing the course, participants must take a 50-question multiple-choice exam. Upon passing the exam with a score of at least 74%, participants receive their official CSM certificate from the Scrum Alliance.

To get your CSM certification, you must first register for an official two-day Certified Scrum Master course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). You can find CSTs on the Scrum Alliance website or through other training providers. The cost of the course varies depending on where you take it but generally ranges from $1,000 to $2,500 USD. Once you have completed the course and passed the exam, you will be eligible to receive your CSM certificate from the Scrum Alliance.

5. Certified Agile Program Manager (CAPM)

Certified Agile Program Manager (CAPM) is a professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and understanding of agile principles and practices, as well as the ability to apply them in a program management context.

The CAPM exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. To qualify for the exam, applicants must have either 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of formal education in project management topics.

To get the CAPM certification, you must pass the CAPM exam with a score of at least 60%. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive an official PMI certificate and digital badge. You will also gain access to exclusive resources on PMI’s website.

The cost for taking the CAPM exam is $225 USD for PMI members and $300 USD for non-members. The fee includes one attempt at taking the exam. If you need to retake it, there is an additional fee of $150 USD.

6. Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) is a certification program offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). It is designed for experienced business analysts who want to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to the profession. The CBAP certification recognizes individuals who have a deep understanding of the principles, practices, and techniques of business analysis and can apply them in real-world situations.

The CBAP certification requires applicants to have a minimum of 7500 hours of experience in business analysis over the past 10 years. This experience must include at least 900 hours in four out of six knowledge areas as defined by IIBA. In addition, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge and application of business analysis principles.

The CBAP exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as requirements management, enterprise analysis, solution assessment and validation, planning and monitoring, strategy analysis, and stakeholder engagement. The exam takes three hours to complete and costs $325 USD for members or $450 USD for non-members.

In order to become certified as a CBAP, applicants must meet the eligibility criteria outlined by IIBA and successfully pass the exam with a score of at least 70%. Once certified, individuals are required to maintain their certification through continuing education activities every three years.

7. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) is a certification that validates the skills and knowledge of professionals who work with Microsoft technologies. It demonstrates an individual’s ability to design, implement, configure, and troubleshoot Microsoft-based solutions.

The MCSA certification requires passing two exams: one on Windows Server and one on either Office 365 or SQL Server. Depending on the specific technology you choose to focus on, the exams can take anywhere from two to four hours each to complete.

To get an MCSA certification, you must first pass both required exams and then submit an application to Microsoft for review. The cost of each exam varies depending on your country of residence, but typically ranges between $100-$150 per exam. After submitting your application, Microsoft will review it and issue your certification if you meet all requirements.

In total, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to obtain an MCSA certification depending on how quickly you can prepare for the exams and submit your application.

8. CompTIA Project+ Certification

CompTIA Project+ is a certification that validates the knowledge and skills of project managers. It is designed to assess the ability to manage projects on time, within budget, and with quality results. The certification covers topics such as project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, closing, and professional responsibility.

The exam for CompTIA Project+ consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and takes up to two hours to complete. To become certified, candidates must pass the exam with a score of 750 or higher on a scale of 100-900.

To get CompTIA Project+, you must first register for the exam through CompTIA’s website or through an authorized testing center. Once registered, you can use online study materials or attend a course to prepare for the exam. After passing the exam, you will receive your certification in 6-8 weeks.

The cost of CompTIA Project+ varies depending on where you take the exam. Generally speaking, it costs around $320 USD for the exam fee alone. However, additional fees may apply if you are taking it at an authorized testing center or if you are using third-party study materials or courses.

9. ITIL Foundation Certification

ITIL Foundation Certification is a globally recognized qualification that demonstrates your understanding of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices framework. It is designed to help individuals and organizations understand how to effectively manage their IT services, processes, and resources.

The ITIL Foundation certification consists of a one-day exam, which covers topics such as service strategy, service design, service transition, service operations, continual service improvement, and the ITIL framework. The exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 60 minutes.

To get certified you will need to attend an accredited training course or self-study for the exam. Accredited training courses typically last between two and five days depending on the provider. Self-study can take anywhere from several weeks to months to complete depending on your level of commitment and knowledge.

The cost of the certification depends on the provider you choose; however, it typically ranges from $500 - $1,000 USD for both the training course and exam fee combined.

10. Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

Six Sigma Green Belt Certification is a professional certification that recognizes an individual’s knowledge and skills in the area of Six Sigma. It is designed to improve the quality of processes and products, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.

The certification typically takes around two weeks to complete, depending on the program chosen. To obtain the certification, individuals must first attend a course or training program that covers Six Sigma principles, tools, and techniques. After completing the training program, they must then pass an exam to demonstrate their mastery of Six Sigma principles and practices.

The cost of getting certified depends on the program chosen. Most programs range from $500-$2,000 USD. Some employers may offer tuition reimbursement for employees who are pursuing a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.

Overall, obtaining a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification can be beneficial to individuals looking to advance their career in quality improvement or process optimization. It demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement and provides a competitive advantage when applying for jobs or promotions.

Do You Really Need a Program Associate Certificate?

No, you do not necessarily need a Program Associate Certificate to become a successful program associate. While there are some employers who may prefer to hire someone with a certificate, many employers will also accept applicants who have the necessary skills and qualifications that they are looking for.

Having a Program Associate Certificate can be beneficial in certain situations, however. For example, if you are applying for a position in a specific field that requires specialized knowledge or experience, having the certificate may help you stand out from other applicants. Additionally, some employers may be willing to pay more for someone with the certificate because it demonstrates that the person has taken the time to obtain additional training and education in the field.

Ultimately, it is up to you as an applicant whether or not obtaining a Program Associate Certificate is worth your time and money. While it can be helpful in certain situations, it is not always necessary and should only be pursued if you feel that it would benefit your career.

Related: Program Associate Resume Examples

FAQs About Program Associate Certifications

Q1. What is a Program Associate Certification?

A1. A Program Associate Certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a professional’s expertise in the field of program management and development. It validates a person’s ability to plan, develop, and manage successful projects.

Q2. How do I become certified as a Program Associate?

A2. To become certified as a Program Associate, you must complete an approved certification program or course which typically includes topics such as project management fundamentals, budgeting and financial management, risk analysis and management, team development, stakeholder engagement, and more.

Q3. What are the benefits of obtaining a Program Associate Certification?

A3. Obtaining a Program Associate Certification can demonstrate your expertise in the field of program management and development to potential employers or customers; it can also help you stand out in the competitive job market by showcasing your commitment to professional growth and excellence. Additionally, having this certification may enable you to command higher salaries than those without certifications or those with lower-level certifications.

Q4. Is there any continuing education required for maintaining my Program Associate Certification?

A4. Most organizations require that their certified professionals maintain their credentials through continuing education courses or seminars related to program management and development topics every few years in order to remain current with best practices and trends in the field.

Q5. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining my Program Associate Certification?

A5: Yes, most programs require applicants to have at least three years of relevant work experience prior to applying for their certification program or course; however, some programs may not have any prerequisites at all so it's important to check with the individual organization offering the certification for details on specific requirements before applying.