Jobs Search
advanced search options
advanced search options
reset and use simple search options
simple search options

How to get a HR CIPD Qualification

Top Tips

What You Need to Know:

  1. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development - is the professional body for people who work in Human Resources (HR) and People Development.
  2. They offer a range of qualifications for those just starting out in the profession up to those already holding senior management positions.
  3. As a Chartered organisation, those who complete the top level qualification are able to apply to be a Chartered Member of Chartered Fellow.
  4. Qualifications are available in a range of sizes and a range of specialist subjects to suit your individual needs.
  5. A new Higher Apprenticeship in Human Resource Management is also now available for those who prefer to learn on the job.
  6. The qualification can be studied directly from the CIPD or through a wide range of centres up and down the country.


The CIPD – or Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development - is the professional body for people who work in Human Resources (HR) and People Development roles. It is an international body with more than 135,000 members and focuses on in HR, learning and development, people management and consulting across private businesses and organisations in the public and voluntary sectors.

The CIPD is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, and having been bestowed with a Royal Charter, is one of a select group of professional bodies which is allowed to confer individual chartered status on its members, provided they can demonstrate that they meet the necessary standards.

As well as offering the chance to become a fully chartered HR professional, the CIPD also offer a wide range of other qualifications, to allow younger members of the HR profession to work towards full chartered status.

There is a cost to the courses, but in many cases your company will be willing to cover some or all of this is they believe it will be beneficial to your professional work for them.

What CIPD Qualifications are available?

CIPD HR and Learning and Development qualifications are the most widely recognised professional qualifications in the sector and are very popular amongst HR Professionals.

There are four primary qualifications on offer:

  1. Level 2 Introductory: The CIPD Level 2 Introductory courses are an equivalent to a grade A* - C and demonstrate the ability to understand and apply certain HR and L&D skills under limited supervision.
  1. Level 3 Foundation: The CIPD Level 3 Foundation courses is offered as an equivalent qualification to an A-Level and is targeted at those who are new to the Profession, or currently working in a supporting role.
    They are available in a range of subject specific areas.
    Upon successful completion of the course, you will gain Associate Membership of the CIPD and with it the right to use the letters ‘Assoc CIPD’ after your name.
    The final qualification will be in Human Resources Practice or Learning and Development Practice.
  1. Level 5 Intermediate: The CIPD Level 5 Intermediate qualifications are offered to existing HR professionals who are looking to advance their careers in the sector. The qualification is the equivalent of a Batchelor’s Degree.
    These courses will offer the ability to evaluate HR and L&D models and practices, develop planning and analytical skills, and develop an increased understanding of organisations. A similar range of subjects are available at this level.
    If you are at the right level of your career, you do not have to have completed the Level 3 Foundation qualification, to take a Level 5 course.
    Upon successful completion of the course, you will also gain Associate Membership of the CIPD and with it the right to use the letters ‘Assoc CIPD’ after your name.
    The final award will be in Human Resources Management or Human Resources Development. 
  1. Level 7 Advanced: The CIPD Level 7 Advanced awards are available to those already working in fairly senior HR or L&D roles implementing strategies or developing policy. It is the equivalent of a postgraduate qualification, and again completion of the lower level qualifications is not a prerequisite for taking them.

    The Level 7 qualifications ensure that candidates have a breadth of knowledge as well as a specialisation in your chosen area.

    Upon successful completion of the course, you will also gain Associate Membership of the CIPD and with it the right to use the letters ‘Assoc CIPD’ after your name. However, if you study for a Diploma at this level, and you can also demonstrate the relevant level of professional expertise, you can, subject to eligibility, apply to become a Chartered Member of the CIPD or a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD.

    The final award will be in Human Resources, Human Resources Management, or Human Resources Development.

At each level there are three sizes of qualification available, allowing candidates to choose the amount of time and effort they need to commit, whilst still securing a recognised CIPD qualifications.

The three sizes available are:

  1. CIPD Awards: These offer very specialised learning in specific subjects, and suit someone looking for a qualification in a specific area or specialism of their work. These qualifications do not lead to Associate status.


  1. CIPD Certificates:  These offer a more rounded qualification, which includes core subjects and the opportunity to select a range of specialisms.


  1. CIPD Diplomas: Diplomas cover a wider range of subjects than certificates, as well as covering the core subjects. At Advanced Level, this qualification can lead to full chartered status.

The qualifications are available in a range of training topics. These are:

  • Business Leadership and Management Skills
  • Personal Effectiveness and Behavioural Skills
  • Human Resources
  • Learning and Development
  • Employment Law and Employee Relations
  • Performance and Reward
  • Organisation Development and Design.

The CIPD also offers a range of short courses and in-house training opportunities.

Why should I want to get a CIPD Qualification?

If you are settled into your job, and have been achieving your professional goals, you might wonder what the benefits of studying for a professional CIPD qualification would be for you.

The fact is that CIPD qualifications, as with many recognised professional qualifications, offer a number of potential benefits for you in your career. They are taken by 13,000 new students each year, meaning that the profession is moving ahead with confidence, and you don’t want to be left behind. Other benefits include:

  • They are valued by employers: they only offer learning opportunities in the skills that employers in this sector are looking for.
  • HR in a business context:  They offer skills that can contribute to the success of a large or small business
  • Flexible to meet your needs: You can learn at your own pace and earn credit for your achievements as you progress. There are various optional units to meet your development needs and interests.
  • Various Study Paths: CIPD qualifications offer the chance to branch out into other specialisms at Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Level.
  • Boosting your earning potential: Most interestingly for those still sceptical, independent research has shown that individuals with professional qualifications stand to earn on average £81,000 in extra earnings over a lifetime (CCPMO Economic Impact Report, December 2008).
  • Professional Membership: Many qualifications offer a level of professional

Where can I study for a CIPD Qualification?

The CIPD itself offers all of its professional qualifications in-house. Courses are held at a range of locations across the UK, principally the major cities of London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Manchester.

If none of these locations are convenient for you, you can study at one of the thousands of academic centres, and professional delivery centres up and down the country.

These include Universities, Further Education Colleges, Adult Learning Centres, and a range of private organisations, all fully recognised by the CIPD.

At some Universities, you can also study for an academic qualification which is recognised by the CIPD as being an equivalent qualification to one of theirs.

You can search for which centres offer the right course in the right location for you on the official CIPD website.

What if I’m not really very academic?

If you don’t fancy the idea of going back to university or doing yet more academic studying, there is another options available for you.

Working with the Skills CFA, the CIPD has developed a new Higher Apprenticeship in Human Resource Management.

It sits at Level 5 Intermediate level of the CIPD qualifications and also Level 5 of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF).

The Apprenticeship is an opportunity to build your knowledge and skills on the job, whilst the business you work for is benefitting from your increased skills and effectiveness.

There is still some academic-style training with a tutor or at a college, but there is also on the job training opportunities through your management and the experience of doing the job itself to be taken into account as well.

The Apprenticeship takes between one and two years to complete and is rewarded with a CIPD Diploma in Applied Human Resources (QCF). They will also be awarded CIPD Associate Member status and be able to use the designation Assoc CIPD after their name.

If you are interested in undertaking an apprenticeship, you can find more details on the CIPD website, and you should also look to discuss the option with your existing employer.

Further Reading


Leave a Comment on this Article
leave comment >
How we use cookies


We Guide, You Decide