IPMA International Project Management Association
1 November 2017 / 7:00

The real value of IPMA Certification

The 4-Level-Certification-System of IPMA is a unique service for individuals pursuing a career in project management. Through the certificate of IPMA they can provide evidence of their competence to an employer or project sponsor. And competence is much more than knowledge. According to the IPMA ICB 4.0  competence is “the application of knowledge, skills and abilities in order to achieve the desired results.” This means that for an IPMA Certificate it´s not sufficient to fill a multiple-choice questionnaire. Getting a certificate on Levels C, B and A requires you to undergo a rich process including but not limited to workshops, interviews as well as writing an essay about your specific project applying competences in real life.

We often get the question from individuals what value they can get through IPMA Certification. My first answer is that the self-reflection and lessons learned through the intensive process of certification was most valuable to me running my Level A Certification process in Germany. Another value may be the signal to future employers or clients demonstrating your competence and getting an interesting and well paid assignment with them. What concerns the pay back, GPM, the German Project Management Association performed their 2017 Salary & Career Survey and asked the 1000+ respondents about their salaries. On average, a Level D Certificate holder in Germany earns 72.000 Euro. The average salary increases to 86.000 Euro for Level C, 105.000 Euro for Level B and 112.000 for Level A. Certainly, the industry you are working in may have an influence on the salary you earn. The size of the company may also have a (positive) impact. However, the most important factor for the salary is the experiences gained in managing projects and the competences demonstrated by an IPMA Certificate, providing the necessary evidences to an employer.

Last week I was also asked by an employer why IPMA asks for a re-certification. Following the line of competence being “demonstrated ability for managing projects”, after a while it needs to be checked, whether the holder of a certificate is still active in the respective role, or whether he needs to advance certain competences. In some cases it may also be necessary to talk about the next step in the 4-Level-Certification System. Recently, someone with a Level D in Germany argued that re-certifying on Level D is “no value for money”. I agree, because it does not really make sense to stay on Level D… after five years you should be able to demonstrate enough experience to move forward to Level C and certify on that level. It means applying, learning and progressing. Thus, a certificate is not just the paper on the wall, it´s a value-adding process of self-reflection and demonstration of competences applied in real projects.


  • Mark Reeson says:

    I completely concur Reinhard. Speaking as a Fellow of the APM and a RPP, we in thd UK may have taken a slightly different approach but the need for continuous development of an individual and the reassessment of our project community is the only way that we will gain true recognition.

  • Daniel Schleicher says:

    I enjoyed this post, i was really drawn in to the part where the salaries were mentioned, it shows the amount of time and effort that separates each level.

  • BE says:

    I agree the approach of development of a person it good to have active skill in your field and show as well as demonstrating your work. I enjoy reading about the salary and how your competence play a role. You can have knowledge about a lot of things but your experience is the best results or the results of the project. There is always room for grow and this site allow you some ability to measure it.

  • shakeela wells-johnson says:

    I liked how you talked about how it is important to have competency and and being able to apply the skills you already know.

  • Hans Knoepfel says:

    IPMA Level D Recertification makes sense for the many Project Team members who do not manage the project themselves. They can contribute much to a competent Management of the Project and can be proud to provide the evidence to the independent Certification Body that
    a) they are working with Project Management to a sufficient extent
    b) that they are using the actual PM knowledge and their experience, reflect their work (and maybe also the Project Manager’s work) and improve their performance.
    An IPMA Level D certificate which is out of date has a reduced value – the more reduced, the older it is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.