CIPD Levels: Explained

Interested in advancing your career in HR or L&D? CIPD could be the perfect fit…

Not only will it improve your knowledge and skills in everything from employment law to talent management, it could also help you achieve a much higher salary than your peers in personnel.

We’ve already covered how CIPD could change your career, but to make sure you understand which qualification is right for you, here’s a rundown of the different CIPD levels:


What is the CIPD?

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) is an independent organisation that aims to improve working life for everyone in employment.

Founded over a century ago, it’s completely non-profit, and even incorporated under a Royal Charter.

They also offer a range of qualifications which are the industry standard for HR and aim to promote world-class people management practices.


How many CIPD levels are there?

CIPD provides three distinct qualification levels to suit people at different points in their career: Level 3, Level 5, and Level 7.

Completion of Level 7, which is equivalent to a postgraduate degree, can lead towards becoming a Chartered Member.

At each Level, there are three types of qualification: Diplomas, Certificates and Awards.

Diplomas provide comprehensive coverage of a wide range of topics; Certificates cover only the essential subjects; and Awards are bite-sized courses covering just one module from the Diploma.


CIPD Level 3

What is it?

Also known as Foundation Level, CIPD Level 3 provides a solid grounding in HR and L&D for those with little or no HR experience. It’s roughly equivalent in difficulty to an A-level.

You can choose the HR pathway or the Learning & Development pathway (or a mixture of the two).

If you qualify with a Certificate or Diploma, you’ll become an Associate Member of the CIPD and be able to add Assoc. CIPD after your name.


Who’s it for?

CIPD Level 3 is ideal for those who are just starting their HR or L&D careers, or who are brand new to the industry – making it the perfect choice for anyone looking for an entry-level role.


How long will it last?

The amount of study required depends on the length of qualification you choose (Award, Certificate or Diploma).

Qualifications can be studied on a full or part-time basis, at dedicated CIPD training centres or online.

On average, a CIPD Level 3 qualification will take between six and nine months to complete.

CIPD Level 3 courses


CIPD Level 5

What is it?

The Intermediate Level qualification is an RQF Level 5 qualification, equivalent to an undergraduate level of study.

If you qualify with a Certificate or Diploma, you’ll become an Associate Member of the CIPD and be able to add Assoc. CIPD after your name.


Who’s it for?

CIPD Level 5 is designed for those with some level of HR experience who are looking to progress in HR and L&D and apply for management roles.

It also suits people who have no prior HR experience, but who have previously studied at degree level.


How long will it last?

An Intermediate Certificate or Diploma will take around 8 to 12 months to complete, with the same study options available as for Foundation Level training.

CIPD Level 5 courses


CIPD Level 7

What is it?

CIPD Level 7 is the Advanced Level of CIPD, and is equivalent to a postgraduate qualification.

Only the CIPD Level 7 Diploma will allow you to gain the prestigious CIPD Chartered Member (MCIPD) or Chartered Fellow (FCIPD) status.


Who’s it for?

Advanced Level qualifications are ideal if you have significant HR experience and want to progress to strategic senior managerial roles such as HR Manager, Head of HR and HR Director.

It can also benefit those who operate independently and work directly with clients, such as HR Consultants.

People who sign up for an Award, Certificate or Diploma at Level 7 will learn how to develop and deploy cutting-edge HR tactics – helping them hone their strategic skills and gain specialist knowledge.


How long will it last?

A Level 7 Diploma will typically last around two years, although this will vary according to how you choose to study and where you receive your training.

CIPD Level 7 courses


Benefits of CIPD Qualifications

The CIPD is recognised globally and has over 145,000 members worldwide.

Once CIPD qualified, you’ll be able to instantly demonstrate your HR or L&D credentials to employers on your CV – helping you to validate your skills and stand out from other applicants.

You’ll also have the potential to earn more money. Entry level salaries for CIPD Level 3 qualified HR Administrators and HR Assistants start at around £25,000 (£10,000 more than those without the certification).

And with most fully-certified HR Managers and Directors earning a salary of £60,000 and above, getting CIPD qualified could be the key to a highly lucrative HR career.


Why study with ICS Learn?

ICS Learn is the UK’s most trusted provider of CIPD courses*.

They offer the full suite of CIPD qualifications through flexible, 100% online study.

Benefits of studying with ICS Learn include:

  • Easily shape your study around work and family
  • Study with the UK CIPD Centre most recommended by students
  • Unlimited 1:1 tutor support & live online classrooms
  • Interest-free payment plans & price-match guarantee
  • 96% CIPD pass rate


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Want to learn more about CIPD? Get in touch with ICS Learn today.


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ICS Learn is the world’s most experienced distance learning organisation. Whether you’re looking for career advancement, a promotion, a higher salary or a new direction, ICS Learn’s flexible online courses are your first step towards success.