IPMA 4-L-C System

On June 14, 1998 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the IPMA Council confirmed the establishment of IPMA’s universal four level system which was approved on February 28, 1998 in Bled. The certification in project, programme and portfolio management was then realized by the certification bodies of the Member Associations.

The certification schemes and systems of the certification bodies (as defined in the ISO/IEC standard 17024) shall be an incentive for the project managers and the members of the project management teams (i.e. the project management personnel) to:

  • expand and improve their technical, behavioural and contextual PM competence
  • continue their education and experience in PM
  • improve the quality of PM
  • last but not the least – achieve the project, programme and portfolio objectives better

The benefits of the certification are

  • for the project management personnel: an internationally acknowledged certificate of their PM competence
  • for the suppliers of project management services: a demonstration of their employees’ professional competence
  • for the clients: more certainty to get the state-of-the- art services from project management professionals.

For these purposes, a variety of competence elements of the project management personnel concerning the knowledge and experience in the technical, behavioural and contextual range are assessed. IPMA developed the universal four- level concept for the certification processes and scheme. The certification processes, scheme and system of a certification body that abides by the rules of IPMA will be validated and revalidated on a regular basis by IPMA.

The main requirements for each level are derived from typical activities, responsibilities and requirements from practice. The IPMA four level certification is now shown as follows:

Figure 1 IPMA Four Level Certification System

IPMA Level A Certified Projects Director

Shall be able to manage complex portfolios or programmes.

IPMA Level B Certified Senior Project Manager

Shall be able to manage complex projects him / herself.

IPMA Level C Certified Project Manager

Shall be able to manage projects with limited complexity and / or to assist the manager of a complex project in all competence elements of project management.

IPMA Level D Certified Project Management Associate

Shall have the knowledge in all competence elements and be able to apply it.

The levels are not restrained to hierarchical thinking. A project management specialist on the IPMA Level D may be, apart from his fundamental knowledge in project management, a highly qualified, experienced and recognised expert in a special field. On each level most professional work can be done for the respective range of tasks and decisions, in a local or regional or national or in an international context.

The levels are suitable for career track and maturity models as well as for personnel development and benchmarking companies and other organisations.

The IPMA Level D represents the requirements of the professional associations for project management knowledge provided by the education and training in project management for its use in practice.

PMDAN is responsible for developing and managing its own project management certification processes and scheme and for establishing the national certification body.

IPMA owns, maintains and develops its universal certification system and harmonises and validates the national certifications regarding the general structure and principles of the certification system.