Human Resources

Which CIPD Course Should I Take? Levels 3, 5 and 7 Explained

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Accelerate your HR or L&D career with a globally-recognised CIPD qualification.


 

No matter where you are in your HR or L&D career, there’s a CIPD qualification that will help take you to the next level.

When you first begin researching which CIPD qualification is right for you, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options. Do you want a Diploma or a Certificate? Is it better to start at Level 3 or 5? And is Level 7 really equivalent to a Master’s degree?

We’re here to explain everything you need to know about choosing your CIPD course, so you can start your CIPD journey with confidence.

(Don’t worry if you’re still not sure. Our expert CIPD Advisors will chat through your experience and ambitions before you enrol so you can be sure you’ve made the right choice.)


 

Jump to:

3 Steps to Choosing Your Perfect CIPD Qualification

Level 3 Explained

Level 5 Explained

Level 7 Explained

 

3 Steps to Choosing Your Perfect CIPD Qualification


When choosing your ideal CIPD course, you’ll need to consider three key aspects:

  1. The subject
  2. The level of advancement
  3. The length of your qualification

 

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Step One: Do you want to study HR or L&D?

CIPD provides qualifications in two subjects.

  • Human Resources qualifications cover a wide range of generalist and specialist HR skills such as recruitment, reward management, employment law, and managing the employer-employee relationship.
  • Learning & Development qualifications focus on the planning, design, delivery, and evaluation of employee training.

 

Step Two: Do you want to study at Level 3, Level 5, or Level 7?

All CIPD qualifications are organised into three Levels representing how advanced the material is.

  • CIPD Level 3 Foundation qualifications are perfect for HR/L&D beginners seeking entry-level roles like Assistant or Trainer.
  • CIPD Level 5 Intermediate qualifications are ideal for those with some HR/L&D experience or a degree who are seeking mid-level roles like Manager or Advisor.
  • CIPD Level 7 Advanced qualifications are for experienced HR/L&D professionals and HR graduates who want to prepare for senior strategic roles like Department Head or Director.

 

Step Three: Do you want to study a Diploma, Certificate or Award?

At each CIPD Level, there are three qualification lengths to choose from.

  • CIPD Diplomas are the most comprehensive and desirable CIPD qualifications, covering everything you need to know at your chosen level.
  • CIPD Certificates are shorter qualifications, covering only essential modules from the Diploma.
  • CIPD Awards are bite-sized courses covering one module from the Diploma. They’re useful if you’d like to focus on a specific topic like employment law.

 

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Level 3 Foundation

What Does CIPD Level 3 Mean?

A Level 3 CIPD qualification is classed as a Foundation course. This means that it’s roughly equivalent to an A Level and intended to cover the basic groundwork that you need for entry-level HR or L&D roles.

 

What Experience/Qualifications Do You Need to Study CIPD Level 3?

You don’t need any prior experience or qualifications in HR or L&D to get started on one of these courses. These are intended to serve as an introduction to formal training.

If English is your second language, then we suggest that you have an IELTS 6.5/ESOL Level 2 or equivalent to ensure that you’re able to fully understand the course content.

 

Typical CIPD Level 3 Job Roles

  • HR Assistant
  • HR Administrator
  • HR Officer
  • HR Coordinator
  • Training/L&D Coordinator
  • Training/L&D Officer
  • L&D Practitioner
  • Trainer

 

Typical CIPD Level 3 Salary

According to the Hay’s Salary Survey, the average annual salary for those in typical Level 3 job roles in the private sector is £25,000.

 

CIPD Level 3 HR Modules

If you study the Level 3 Diploma in HR, you'll complete all of the core and elective modules.

If you study the Level 3 Certificate in HR, you'll complete all four core modules plus your choice of two elective modules.

 

Core modules

  • Understanding Organisations and the Role of Human Resources
  • Recording, Analysing and Using HR Information
  • Resourcing Talent
  • Developing Yourself as an Effective HR/L&D Practitioner

 

Elective modules

  • Delivering Learning and Development Activities
  • Supporting Good Practice in Performance and Reward Management
  • Supporting Good Practice in Managing Employment Relations

 

CIPD Level 3 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 3 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules plus your choice of one elective module.

If you study the Level 3 Certificate in L&D, you'll complete six of the core modules. 

 

Core modules

  • Becoming an Effective L&D Practitioner
  • L&D and the Organisation
  • Identifying L&D Needs
  • Designing L&D Activities
  • Delivering L&D Activities
  • Evaluating L&D Activities
  • Supporting Coaching and Mentoring (Diploma only)

 

Elective modules

  • Supporting Collective and Social Learning
  • Enhancing Learner Engagement
  • Using Technology to Facilitate Learning

 

Different providers may offer a different selection of elective modules – you can find the full list on the CIPD website.

 

Average CIPD Level 3 Course Duration

  • A CIPD Level 3 Foundation Diploma has a total learning time of 370 hours, which equates to around 8 to 10 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate has a total learning time of 280 hours, which equates to around 7 to 9 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 3 Foundation Award has a total learning time of 20 to 120 hours, which equates to around 2 to 3 months while working full time.

 

CIPD Membership at Level 3

On completion of a Level 3 Certificate or Diploma, you can become an Associate Member of the CIPD and use Assoc. CIPD after your name.

 

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Level 5 Intermediate

What Does CIPD Level 5 Mean?

A Level 5 CIPD qualification is classed as intermediate level and builds on the concepts introduced in Foundation level courses. It’s roughly equivalent to an HND at undergraduate level.

 

What Experience/Qualifications Do You Need to Study CIPD Level 5?

If you want to begin studying at Level 5, then you should have some experience in an entry-level HR role, managerial experience that has involved elements of HR, or a degree and a desire to begin studying HR at a higher level. 

If you’ve already completed a Level 3 qualification, then you can easily progress to this higher-level course.

 

Typical CIPD Level 5 Job Roles

  • HR Manager
  • HR Business Partner
  • HR Advisor
  • Training/L&D Officer
  • Training/L&D Manager
  • Training/L&D Advisor

 

Typical CIPD Level 5 Salary

If you secure one of these jobs after studying a Level 5 qualification, then your average annual salary would be in the region of £42,000.

 

CIPD Level 5 HR Modules

If you study the Level 5 Diploma in HR, you'll complete all of the core and elective modules.

If you study the Level 5 Certificate in HR, you'll complete all four core modules plus your choice of two elective modules.

 

Core modules

  • Developing Professional Practice
  • Using Information in HR
  • Business Issues and the Contexts of HR
  • Managing and Coordinating the HR Function

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Planning
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law
  • Contemporary Developments in Employment Relations

 

CIPD Level 5 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 5 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules.

If you study the Level 5 Certificate in L&D, you'll complete five core modules. 

 

Core modules

  • Developing Professional Practice
  • Understanding the Context of L&D
  • Using Information Metrics and Developing Business Cases for L&D
  • Implementing Coaching and Mentoring
  • Facilitating Collective and Social Learning
  • Developing Leadership and Management Skills (Diploma only)
  • Managing the L&D Business Function (Diploma only)

 

Different providers may offer a different selection of elective modules – you can find the full list on the CIPD website.

 

Average CIPD Level 5 Course Duration

  • A CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Diploma has a total learning time of 440 hours, which equates to around 9 to 12 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate has a total learning time of 320 hours, which equates to around 8 to 10 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Award has a total learning time of 30 to 120 hours, which equates to around 3 to 4 months while working full time.

 

CIPD Membership at Level 5

On completion of a Level 5 Certificate or Diploma, you can become an Associate Member of the CIPD and use Assoc. CIPD after your name.

 

 

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Level 7 Advanced

What Does CIPD Level 7 Mean?

A Level 7 course leads to a very prestigious Advanced qualification, which is equivalent to a Master’s degree. This covers the knowledge that you need to become a senior HR practitioner.

 

What Experience/Qualifications Do You Need to Study CIPD Level 7?

To enrol on a course of this calibre, you should have significant experience in HR or an HR degree. You should also be prepared to take on postgraduate-level study; you can flex your course around your schedule to allow you to complete this more easily.

If you have already completed a Level 5 qualification, then you will be able to take your studies to the next level with a Level 7 course.

 

Typical CIPD Level 7 Job Roles

  • HR Director
  • Head of HR
  • HR Business Partner
  • Training/L&D Director
  • Head of Training/L&D

 

Typical CIPD Level 7 Salary

The average annual salary for one of these senior roles is approximately £65,000.

 

CIPD Level 7 HR Modules

If you study the Level 7 Diploma in HR, you'll complete four core modules plus your choice of four elective modules.

If you study the Level 7 Certificate in HR, you'll complete four modules of your choice from either the core or elective list below.

 

Core modules

  • Human Resource Management in Context
  • Leading, Managing and Developing People
  • Developing Skills for Business Leadership
  • Investigating a Business Issue from an HR Perspective

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Management
  • Managing Employment Relations
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law
  • Learning and Talent Development
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Organisational Design and Organisational Development

 

CIPD Level 7 L&D Modules

If you study the Level 7 Diploma in L&D, you'll complete all seven core modules plus your choice of one elective module.

 

Core modules

  • Human Resource Management in Context
  • Leading, Managing and Developing People
  • Developing Skills for Business Leadership
  • Investigating a Business Issue from an HR Perspective
  • Learning and Talent Development
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Organisational Design and Organisational Development

 

Elective modules

  • Resourcing and Talent Management
  • Managing Employment Relations
  • Reward Management
  • Employment Law

 

Different providers may offer a different selection of elective modules – you can find the full list on the CIPD website.

 

Average CIPD Level 7 Course Duration

  • A CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma has a total learning time of 1200 hours, which equates to around 18 to 24 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 7 Advanced Certificate has a total learning time of 600 hours, which equates to around 9 to 12 months while working full time.
  • A CIPD Level 7 Advanced Award has a total learning time of 150 hours, which equates to around 4 to 5 months while working full time.

 

CIPD Membership at Level 7

If you complete the Level 7 Certificate, then you can become an Associate Member of the CIPD and use Assoc. CIPD after your name. If you opt for the Diploma, then you can become a Chartered Member of the CIPD and use the designatory letters MCIPD after your name.

 

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CIPD qualifications can be a driving force in your career, from entry- to senior level. Selecting the right level to enrol on is key, then you can concentrate on attaining that career-furthering qualification. 

 


Hone your skills, impress employers, and enhance your knowledge with a CIPD qualification.