This designation is issued by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) through member associations in each country. The nickname for level B certification is “Certified Senior Project Manager.”
Levels B and C are both project manager certifications from the IPMA. Level B is the higher and level C is the lower. They are sandwiched between level D, “certified project management associate,” an entry level designation intended for non-project managers, and level A, the “certified projects director” designation intended for program managers of multiple projects. One could argue that level B is similar to the PMP (Project Management Professional) and the PRINCE2 Practitioner certifications, but those are probably closer to level C.
The exact number of certifications in level B are not known but the IPMA states that at the end of 2014, there were about 75,000 certifications worldwide in levels B and C. The most popular project manager certification is the PMP with about 650,000 certifications worldwide.
The letters “IPMA-B” are used after one’s name upon certification.
Who is it For?
The IPMA-B certification is intended for project managers of complex projects or large projects. In professional practice, large projects require intensive project management techniques that small projects do not. The IPMA is the only project management organization that distinguishes between these two types of projects with their levels B vs. C certifications.
All IPMA levels require a written exam, the content of which is taken from the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (ICB). This document outlines the three levels of competence required of project management professionals: Behavioural, contextual, and technical. The ICB contains 46 individual items of competence on which project professionals are judged.
This exam usually has multiple choice as well as written response questions.
There are no other project management courses required, although you could take a course that teaches the content of the ICB. There are also no requirements relating to background education, such as a post-secondary (university of college) degree or high school diploma.
To become IPMA-B certified, you must have five years of project management experience within the last 8 years. Three of those years must have been in a responsible leadership position in the management of a complex project or projects. The other two must have been in any type of project management role.
As part of the initial assessment you must write a reference project proposal (3 – 5 pages), a summary describing the applicant’s role in a project where you had the role of a accountable project manager. The project must meet the minimum complexity ratings outlined in the application.
Also as part of the initial application, you must also perform a “self-assessment” using the 46 competence elements within the Individual Competence Baseline. This involves a 0-4 rating on elements like:
“P1.2.1. Know the principles of project management and the way they are implemented.”
If you give yourself glowing marks even though you don’t understand the ICB, the IPMA will not reject the application. But an assessor will visit your place of work to confirm the findings of your self assessment. It is also a study tool for the exam because the 46 competence items are the foundation of the ICB. Simply put, if you don’t understand the 46 competence items, you are probably not ready to write the exam anyway.
Once the initial application is made, the exam is written. After the exam, a 15 – 25 page project report is prepared which outlines the project management processes and tools that the candidate has used on actual projects. It must contain evidence of the technical knowledge that is necessary to manage complex projects. Once this report is submitted, a two hour interview at the applicant’s workplace by two assessors takes place, after which certification is recommended (or rejected).
The official textbook is called the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (ICB). This book is available free from the IPMA’s website.
In the United States, the cost for the initial application and exam is $195. Once the exam has been passed a fee of $1,595 applies to the report and on-site interview (Total = $1,790). This will vary from country to country.
The certification is valid for 5 years, after which an application for recertification must be submitted. This includes another self-assessment as well as evidence of Continuing Professional Development. You must demonstrate you have taken courses, made presentations, and remained active involvement in project management. If you are weak in any area, the IPMA might require another interview. The recertification fee is $395.
The IPMA is the global organization that develops the standards and the member (country) associations act as certifying bodies. It is these member associations that preside over the certification process, therefore you need to find the association in your country and determine the requirements directly from them. Because those requirements change we cannot give you exact details that apply in every country.
In fact, even the designations themselves are different in some countries, for example, in Canada the IPMA-D certification is called Certified Project Management Associate (CPMA). Thus, we have outlined the IPMA specifications on this page but most of the content is subject to change from country to country.