Human Resources

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

which-cipd-course-should-i-take-levels-3-5-and-7-explained-1

 

Enrol today >

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 you take it 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. What do levels 3, 5 and 7 mean? Is it better to start at Foundation or Associate level if you're new to HR? And is the CIPD Advanced Diploma really equivalent to postgraduate-level study? (It is!)

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.)


 

Contents

How to Choose Your CIPD Qualification in 2 Steps

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Qualifications Explained

CIPD Level 5 Associate Qualifications Explained

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Qualifications Explained

 


 

How to Choose Your CIPD Qualification in 2 Steps

When choosing your ideal CIPD course, you’ll need to consider two key questions:

  1. The subject: do you want to study human resources or learning and development?
  2. The level of advancement: do you want to study a Foundation (Level 3), Associate (Level 5) or Advanced (Level 7) qualification?

 

Step 1. Choose your subject

CIPD provides qualifications in two subjects.

  • Human Resources (known as People Practice/Management) 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 and organisational development.

 

Step 2. Choose your level of advancement

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

  • CIPD Level 3 Foundation qualifications are ideal if you're an HR/L&D beginner seeking an entry-level or operational role like HR Assistant, L&D Practitioner, or Trainer. 
  • CIPD Level 5 Associate qualifications are ideal if you have some HR/L&D experience or a university degree and are seeking a mid-level role like HR/L&D Manager or Advisor.
  • CIPD Level 7 Advanced qualifications are ideal if you're an experienced HR/L&D professional or an HR graduate who wants to prepare for senior strategic roles like Business Partner, Consultant, Department Head or Director.

Once you've answered these two questions, you should have a rough idea of which CIPD qualification might be right for you. 

Next, we'll cover each CIPD qualification in detail.

 


 

level-3-explained

 

A Guide to CIPD Level 3 Foundation Qualifications

There's only one CIPD qualification at Foundation Level, the CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate, and it covers both HR and L&D.

The Foundation Certificate is designed to give you the essential operational skills that you need to launch your HR or L&D career and take on entry-level roles.

It’s the lowest level of qualification offered by CIPD and is roughly equivalent in difficulty to A Levels.

 

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

You don’t need any prior experience or qualifications to get started on the CIPD Foundation Certificate, making them well-suited to newcomers to the profession.

 

Typical CIPD Foundation Certificate Job Roles

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

 

Typical CIPD Foundation Certificate Salary

According to the Hays Salary Survey, the average annual salary for those qualified to the equivalent of the CIPD Foundation Certificate in the private sector is £25,000.

 

CIPD Foundation Certificate Duration

A CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate generally takes around 7 to 9 months to complete when studying part-time alongside work.

 

CIPD Foundation Certificate in People Practice Course Content

You'll cover four modules on this course:

  • Essentials of People Practice
  • Core Behaviours for People Professionals
  • Business, Culture and Change in Context
  • Principles of Analytics

 

CIPD Membership at Level 3

On completion of a CIPD Foundation Certificate, you can become a CIPD Foundation Member.

 


 

leve-5

A Guide to CIPD Level 5 Associate Qualifications

CIPD Associate Diploma qualifications are classed as Level 5 qualifications, meaning they're roughly equivalent in difficulty to a foundation degree.

There are two CIPD qualifications at this level, one in HR and one in L&D:

They're designed to give you the skills you need to take on mid-level managerial or advisory HR/L&D roles.

 

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

If you want to study a CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma qualification, then you should generally have at least ONE of the following:

  • Some experience in an entry-level HR or L&D role
  • Work experience that has involved elements of HR or L&D
  • A university degree and a desire to begin your studies at a more advanced level than Level 3
  • A CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate

 

Typical CIPD Associate Diploma Job Roles

  • HR Manager
  • HR Advisor
  • People & Culture Manager
  • People Advisor
  • Training/L&D Officer
  • Training/L&D Manager
  • Training/L&D Advisor

 

Typical CIPD Associate Diploma Salary

If you secure a typical job at this level, then your average annual salary would be in the region of £42,000.

 

CIPD Associate Diploma Course Duration

A CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma generally takes our students 9 to 12 months to complete when studying part-time alongside a full-time job.

 

CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management Course Content

If you study the CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management, you'll complete seven of the modules below.

Core modules:

  • Professionals Behaviours and Valuing People
  • Organisational Performance and Culture in Practice
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Employment Relationship Management
  • Talent Management and Workforce Planning
  • Reward for Performance and Contribution

Elective modules (choose one):

  • Specialist Employment Law
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • People Management in an International Context
  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Wellbeing at Work

 

CIPD Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development Course Content

If you study the CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development, you'll complete seven of the modules listed below.

Core modules:

  • Professionals Behaviours and Valuing People
  • Organisational Performance and Culture in Practice
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Support Self-Directed and Social Learning
  • Learning and Development Design to Create Value
  • Facilitate Personalised and Performance-Focused Learning

Elective modules (choose one):

  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Wellbeing at Work
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • People Management in an International Context
  • Specialist Employment Law

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

 

CIPD Membership at Associate level

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

 


 

7

 

A Guide to CIPD Level 7 Advanced Qualifications

CIPD Advanced qualifications are classed at Level 7, meaning they're equivalent in difficulty to postgraduate/Master's degree qualifications.

CIPD Level 7 qualifications give you the high-level strategic knowledge you need for senior strategic HR or L&D roles. 

There are two CIPD qualifications at this level, one in HR and one in L&D:

 

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

To enrol on a course of this calibre, you should generally have one of the following:

  • Significant experience working in HR or L&D
  • An HR degree
  • A CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma

You should also be prepared to take on postgraduate-level study.

 

Typical CIPD Advanced Diploma Job Roles

  • HR Business Partner
  • HR Consultant
  • Head of HR
  • Head of People and Culture
  • HR Director
  • Training/L&D Director
  • Head of Training/L&D
  • L&D Consultant 

 

Typical CIPD Advanced Diploma Salary

The average annual salary for one of these senior roles is approximately £65,000, but can vary dramatically depending on the seniority of your role.

 

CIPD Advanced Diploma Course Duration

A CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma generally takes students around 18 to 24 months to complete while studying part-time alongside working full-time.

 

CIPD Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management Course Content

If you study the CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management, you'll complete four core modules plus your choice of four elective modules.

Core modules:

  • Work and Working Lives in a Changing Business Environment
  • People Management and Development Strategies for Performance
  • Personal Effectiveness, Ethics and Business Acumen
  • Business Research in People Practice
  • Resourcing and Talent Management to Sustain Success
  • Strategic Reward Management
  • Strategic Employment Relations

Elective modules (choose one):

  • Advanced Employment Law in Practice
  • Learning and Development Practice
  • Managing People in an International Context
  • Technology-Enhanced Learning
  • Advanced Diversity and Inclusion

 

CIPD Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development Course Content

If you study the CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development  you'll complete four core modules plus your choice of four elective modules.

Core modules:

  • Work and Working Lives in a Changing Business Environment
  • People Management and Development Strategies for Performance
  • Personal Effectiveness, Ethics and Business Acumen
  • Business Research in People Practice
  • Organisational Design and Development
  • Leadership and Management Development in Context
  • Designing Learning to Improve Performance

Elective modules (choose one):

  • Technology-Enhanced Learning
  • Advanced Diversity and Inclusion
  • Advanced Employment Law in Practice
  • Managing People in an International Context

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

 

CIPD Membership at Level 7

If you complete the CIPD Level 7 Diploma, then once you have the requisite professional experience, you could become a Chartered Member of the CIPD


 

woman-writing-on-her-notebook-3059747

 

When it comes to choosing your CIPD qualification, it can seem like there are a lot of options to choose from. Our advice is to focus on the two key areas that differentiate the qualifications:

  1. The subject: do you want to study human resources or learning and development?
  2. The level of advancement: do you want to study at Foundation, Associate or Advanced level?

Once you've answered those questions, you'll be well on your way to choosing the right course for you.

And remember - you don't have to make your decision alone (nor should you!) Our experienced CIPD Advisors will be happy to chat through your experience, education, and ambitions to make sure you're choosing the perfect course for you. Just send us an email, chat to us online, or give us a call.

 


Learn more about becoming CIPD qualified online and get your FREE CIPD course guide today.


 

Ready to advance your HR career?

Request your guide to getting CIPD qualified online with unlimited 1:1 tutor support and interest-free plans.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Learn how we keep your data private