Are you thinking of taking the next step in your project management career? Perhaps you have identified there is an opportunity to improve your skills and knowledge? Well, then you have probably realised it is a jungle out there in terms of courses, programmes and certificates. In 2020 we published an article that looks across the entire marketplace of project management accreditations and here we will look closer at APM’s PFQ and PMQ certificates in particular.

It is important to choose the right level of certification to make sure you get value from your investment in time and money, whether you are choosing training for yourself or for a team of people within your organisation.

If you choose something too foundational there is a risk the certificate will not have the intended meaning or impact (for example, it might not offer the intended CV boost). If you choose something too advanced there is the obvious risk the exam will be too difficult which can feel like a wasted investment, or worse can damage your confidence or your perception of the field of project management entirely.

It can be a bit difficult to identify which certification is right for YOU so this article will try to bring some clarity to the topic and help you choose the right path for you and your career.

First of all: PFQ and PMQ – what are they?

PFQ = Project Fundamentals Qualification is a great certification for those who are starting out in project management or those who are part of the project team but do not themselves manage projects.

To get a PFQ you must pass a 1 hour, 60 multiple choice question exam. Our Running Successful Projects course is a great way to prepare and we are proud to say our candidates have a 97% pass rate!

PMQ = Project Management Qualification is a fantastic way for experienced project managers to show their level of knowledge and understanding of what is good project management. This is a challenging exam; 3 hours and 15 minutes where the candidates answer 10 questions in a “mini-essay” style.

Our Project Management for Practitioners course is a brilliant way to prepare but you will also do some revision outside of the course.

Still not clear on which one is best for you? Let’s have a look at a few questions to consider.

1) What are you looking for in a certificate?

If you are looking for an entryway into project management, perhaps you are about to do a career change, or you want an introduction or solid foundation to build your career on then the PFQ is the right way to go for you. In fact, if this description fits you then we would not recommend the PMQ at this point.


Are you already an experienced project manager looking to take the next step, fill knowledge gaps or validate your experience? Then the PMQ is probably the right option for you.

2) Where are you in your project management career?

If you are starting out as a project manager, or perhaps you are an experienced team member or even project sponsor, the PFQ is ideal. If you have some experience in managing projects (up to 2 years worth *) the PFQ is probably also the most suitable option.

Those on the periphery of projects, such as supporting functions and PMO members, can also benefit from the PFQ.


If you have significant experience in managing projects (2+ years worth* of experience) the PMQ is probably the most appropriate.

(* Where did that number come from? Whereas it is not a formal pre-requisite from the APM it is a guideline from Wellingtone to help clarify what level of experience is useful, the point is that if you do not have real, significant experience of managing projects yourself the PMQ is not appropriate for you at this point)

3) Have you done any other project management training before?

It is not a formal pre-requisite for either PFQ or PMQ that you have done any form of formal training before, but if you are thinking of doing a PMQ it is certainly something that will help you. You may have a Prince2, PMP or APM PFQ already and want to take the next step. Or perhaps you do not have any formal qualification but have done previous training or studied project management in some capacity – all of that will help you in your PMQ preparation.

For a PFQ you do not need any previous knowledge of project management – it is an excellent starting point!

4) How much time are you willing to commit to preparing and studying?

A couple of days (2-3 days) in a training course with minimal personal study and revision – the PFQ is most appropriate


Several days in a training course and significant time in personal study and revision – the PMQ is appropriate for you


No time at all… errr… bad news, you won’t be able to find a certificate of value that you get without any effort at all.

Still confused? Use our decision map to help guide your decisions or contact us to discuss your needs!

How to Decide Which APM Qualification to Choose

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By: Karin Maule

Karin Maule

Published: 28 April 2022

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