The IPMA Level C designation is a project manager certification issued by the International Project Management Association (IPMA). The nickname for level C certification is ‘Certified Project Manager.’
Level C is for project managers on smaller or non-complex projects where relationships often play a larger role than rigid adherence to project management processes. To put it another way, Level C is generally for project managers from a technical background, as opposed to Level B which is for professional project managers on large, complex projects.
The exact number of certifications in level C 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 combined.
The letters “IPMA-C” are used after one’s name upon certification.
Who is it For?
The IPMA level C certification is intended for project managers who wish to demonstrate their competence. Because it has an experience requirement, the candidate must already be in a position of managing projects.
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: Perspective, People, and Practice. The ICB contains 29 individual items of competence on which project professionals are judged.
This exam has multiple choice as well as written response questions.
There are no other project management courses required, although you could take one of the many online or in-person courses that teach the content of the ICB. There is also no requirements relating to background education, such as a post-secondary (university of college) degree or high school diploma.
Although requirements change slightly from country to country, in the United States, as part of the initial assessment you must write a detailed report about a project you have managed. You must describe your responsibilities and decisions that were made that affected the outcome of the project. The project itself 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 29 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.”
You can give yourself glowing marks even if you didn’t study and understand the ICB, and 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 29 competence items are the foundation of the ICB. Simply put, if you don’t understand the 29 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 one day workshop must be attended which consists of practical project management exercises. After this workshop, an assessor will come to your place of work to confirm the experience requirements and results of the self assessment.
The official textbook is called the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (ICB). This book is available from the IPMA’s website.
Although it varies from country to country, in the United States, the cost for the initial application and exam is US$195. Once the exam has been passed a fee of US$1,295 applies to the workshop and on-site assessment (Total = US$1,490).
The certification is valid for 5 years, after which an application for recertification must be submitted. This include another self-assessment as well as evidence of Continuing Professional Development. This involves courses, presentations, and 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, but the certification process is administered by member associations, one in each country. For that reason, the requirements change from country to country, and if you want to become IPMA certified the first thing you need to do is find the IPMA member association in your country. All of the requirements and certification processes should be obtained directly through them.