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What Does CIPD Stand For? Qualifications & Membership Explained

Take your HR career to the next level with an online CIPD qualification. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, better known as the CIPD, offers internationally recognised qualifications to HR and L&D professionals alike that have long been considered the benchmark for professional qualifications in the industry.

We know, however, that there’s a lot of information out there on the CIPD, their qualifications, and their membership levels. To give you more insight, we’re going into detail about what CIPD qualifications are at each level and the membership levels associated.

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CIPD Qualifications & Membership Explained 

The CIPD offers qualifications at Levels 3, 5 and 7 depending on where you’re at in your HR or L&D career and, as an added bonus, each qualification offers a certain level of CIPD membership that comes with a host of benefits, including access to quality resources, additional career prospects, networking and events, exclusive discounts, and professional credibility. 


CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice

The CIPD Level 3 course is the gateway qualification to entering the people profession, whether you’re looking at kickstarting your career in HR or Learning and Development or hoping to formalise your fundamental industry skills.

This qualification is perfect if you’re looking to:

  • Begin a career in HR or L&D
  • Land an entry-level HR or L&D role, or
  • Currently working in an entry-level HR/L&D role (e.g., HR assistant)


You’ll study the key areas of the people profession, including the essentials of people practice and analytics, and upon completion, be well on your way to advancing your budding career.

Keep in mind that there are no prerequisites required for studying this course.

Membership Eligibility 

First things first, when you enrol on any CIPD qualification, you’ll gain Student Membership with the CIPD, giving you access to the tools, support, and resources you need to help you be successful in your role.

When you’ve completed the CIPD Level 3 Certificate, you’ll become a Foundation Member of the CIPD. Holding membership at this level means that you’ll demonstrate a strong understanding of key practices and behaviours and know how to apply your knowledge in a way that delivers strong and tactical support to your organisation.

This level of membership is your first step to unleashing your potential in the people profession and progressing your career.

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CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in People Management

The CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR (roughly equivalent to an undergraduate degree) gives you the knowledge you need to stand out in mid-level HR roles, including HR Advisor, HR Manager and HR Business Partner.

It’s the ideal qualification for you if you:

  • Are looking to take the next step in your HR career
  • Have some HR experience or have already studied the CIPD Level 3 Certificate
  • Are currently in, or hoping to land, a mid-level HR position
  • Are looking to add value to your organisation as an HR professional


As you study, you’ll learn about a broad range of key HR areas, including employment law and talent management, while building on your analytical and problem-solving skills.

This course is designed to give you everything you need to deliver real results at work and forge ahead in your career.


CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development

Similar to CIPD Level 5 Diploma in HR, the CIPD Level 5 Diploma in L&D gives you the knowledge and skills you need excel in mid-level L&D roles.
This course is right for you if you:

  • Want to move forward in your L&D career 
  • Have some experience in L&D or completed the CIPD Level 3 qualification
  • Are currently in, or striving to obtain a mid-level L&D position (e.g., L&D Manager)
  • Are hoping to help shape learning and development in your organisation


This course will cover everything from social learning to organisational performance and enable you to become a next-generation L&D professional who will truly make an impact in their organisational development.

Membership Eligibility 

The next step up from Foundation Membership is becoming a CIPD Associate Member.
To achieve this status, you’ll need to have completed either the CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma or a CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in either HR or L&D.

Once you’ve reached this point in your CIPD journey, you’ll be exhibiting your excellent understanding of the essential skills, behaviours and functions of the people profession while also calling attention to your tight grasp on diversity, inclusion, ethics, and employee wellbeing (among other things).

Another added benefit of achieving this level of membership is that you can add ‘Assoc. CIPD’ to your name on your CV and LinkedIn, demonstrating your specialist knowledge of HR or L&D and what you can bring to the table.

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CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management 

Roughly equivalent to a Master’s degree, the CIPD Level 7 Diploma in HR is designed for HR professionals who have already completed a CIPD Level 5 Diploma (or equivalent), an HR degree, or a significant amount of HR experience.

This course is designed for experienced HR professionals to gain valuable insights into the more advanced areas of HR, including business research and analysis and key stakeholder relationships.
This qualification is perfect for you if you’re hoping to:

  • Reach the highest level in your HR career
  • Obtain a senior HR position or enhance your current role, or
  • You want a better understanding of how to shape your organisations HR strategy and policy


CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development

Also roughly equivalent to a Master’s degree is the CIPD Level 7 Diploma in L&D.
This advanced qualification is ideal for those looking to advance their career to a senior L&D position and who want to develop their knowledge of strategic L&D elements, including organisational design and development and business research.

This qualification will be a good fit for you if you’re:

  • Hoping to reach new heights in your L&D career
  • Highly experienced in L&D, a related degree, or a CIPD Level 5 qualification
  • Working in or hoping to achieve a senior L&D position
  • Looking to shape your organisation’s L&D policy and strategy


This course will allow you to develop your strategic leadership skills and enable you to use your L&D capabilities to their highest potential.

Membership Eligibility 

As mentioned earlier, if you’ve completed a CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma, you’ll be eligible for CIPD Associate Membership, however, at this level, you’re also eligible to apply to become a CIPD Chartered Member (‘Chartered MCIPD’) - the ultimate industry accolade.

To achieve Chartered status, however, it’s not as easy as simply completing either of these courses. Instead, you’ll need to have worked consistently at this level for at least one year within the last five years, working in a strategic HR or L&D role.

Finally, this brings us to CIPD Chartered Fellow Membership (‘Chartered FCIPD’), which is undoubtedly the most sought-after and prestigious CIPD designation. In order to achieve this status, you’ll need to have more than one years’ experience in a senior HR or L&D role after completing the CIPD Level 7 Diploma (or equivalent).

While achieving Chartered or Chartered Fellow status isn’t detrimental to your success, it can take you far and beyond your initial career goals as it illustrates to employers and peers alike that you have the knowledge, experience, and dedication to make a genuinely positive and long-lasting difference in the workplace.

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Studying CIPD

One of the best things about CIPD qualifications is that you can study them in a variety of different ways depending on how you study, when you study and with which provider.

When you study with DPG, however, you’ll benefit from the flexibility of studying at your own pace, on your own time either entirely online or through blended learning - whatever best suits you.


Want to learn more about our 100% online CIPD programmes? Download your free brochure today to get started.  

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