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.