International Project Management Association (IPMA) vs Project Management Professional (PMP)

By Simpliaxis


When looking for a career in Project Management, professionals often get confused as to which certification will be best suited for them and which one may lead them to their dream job in a reputed organization. Project Managers are highly in demand in recent years as every company needs the best employee to handle their projects and execute them in a marketable way. However, there is a common question that comes to every Project Management aspirant’s mind of which certification course would be the best. There may be confusion between the IPMA and PMP certifications, both of which are prominent courses that help individuals get into reputed companies. There are major differences between both of these courses as they are accredited to different boards and offer different knowledge on Project Management. If you are a serious aspirant in becoming a Project Manager then you have to know these differences and make an informed decision that is best suited for your career. This article explores the differences between both the certification courses and tries to explain various aspects of both the certification.

What is an IPMA certification?

The IPMA (International Project Management Association) is a Project Management certification course that consists of four levels. There are about 242,000 certifications of IPMA certifications all over the world from all four levels where each level is associated with a particular designation. The IPMA certification could be completed in your language in your own country, at your competence level. As the certification is administered by member associations in each country, candidates have to interact with the member associations of their country. As you have understood that IPMA has four levels, to become an IPMA certified professional you have to choose between these four levels. These levels are:


  • Level A: It is a certification for Program Managers who manage multiple projects. It is termed IPMA-A. This certification is not a “Project Manager” certification as such. However, it is included here for completeness.
  • Level B: It is for senior Project Managers who handle large and complex projects. This certification requires more application of Project Management principles.
  • Level C: Project Managers with technical background or managers who manage small projects where relationships matter more than adhering to the principles of Project Management. The relationships mentioned here are between the stakeholders and the Project Managers. As of 2014, levels B and C in total have about 65,000 certifications.
  • Level D: Associate Project Managers who have demonstrated proficiency in Project Management but do not have the necessary experience can apply for the Level D certification course. In this category, there are about 175,000 certifications worldwide. 

Hence, if you want to pick a particular level, you can go for level D if you do not have any experience in Project Management. But if you have some experience, then you can proceed with B or C levels depending on whether you have managed small projects or complex projects. 

Educational Requirements

A university or a diploma degree is not required for pursuing the IPMA certification. Also, there is no requirement for pursuing any other Project Management courses or IPMA courses for attending the exam. However, it is better to take some form of course which could help the candidate in clearing the exam. The material of the exam is taken from IPMA’s Individual Competence Baseline which has its contents divided based on Perspective, People, and Practice.

Requirements of IPMA certification


Experience requirements



Level A

Should have 60 months of experience and Program Management responsibility for a suite of projects. 


The candidate should have experience as a leader for complex portfolios and programmes. 


The completion of the 60 months experience should have taken place within the last 10 years. 

The cost varies from country to country as the cost depends on the education provider. However, an estimate is given according to the United States. The fees mentioned may have changed since the day of publication.


The initial application is around $195, and the subsequent cost is $1795. 

The re-certification and re-assessment fees are $395.An assessor is sent to the workplace to assess the work by the candidate. 

Level B

Should have 5 years of Project Management experience, which is received within the last 5 years. 


2 out of 5 years, the person could take up any Project Management role. However, in 3 out of 5 years, the person should have been in a leadership position for at least one complex project.

The initial application fee is $195. The subsequent cost would be around $1595 for the project report and site interview.

After submitting the recertification application which includes a self-assessment, evidence of continuing professional development. The fee charged is $395. The candidate may require another interview by another assessor if the IPMA finds any area of weakness in the courses, presentations, or active involvement.

Level C

The person should have experience in 3 years of Project Management in a leadership position which should be completed within the last 6 years.

The initial application fee is $195. The subsequent cost would be around $1295 for the workshop and site assessment from an assessor. 

The level C recertification process is the same as Level B.

Level D 

There are no experience requirements for Level D.

The application and exam fee is $300.


The recertification fee is $300, and the candidate has to submit a self-assessment form. 


What is Project Management Professional (PMP) certification?

The PMP certification is a course that consists of Agile, predictive, and hybrid approaches to handle complex projects. It teaches project leadership to professionals such that they become project leaders and gain experience from the best professionals in this field. The course instills focus and dedication into candidates and teaches them the value of working in a high-pressure environment of Project Management. The areas which are crucial for the project success are taught in a manner that is understandable which would help the candidates work smarter and make their performance better. The current market has a vacancy of over 2.2 million project-oriented roles, according to research. People, process, and business environment are three core areas that the PMP course focuses on. 

  • People: This section focuses on building soft skills into individuals so that they become effective leaders and communicate accurately so that they can get the work done.
  • Process: The technical aspects of the Project Management would be handled under this section. 
  • Business environment: The connection between Project Management and organizational strategy would be taught under this section. 

Benefits of PMP certification

  • The PMP certification increases the reputation and respect of the candidate in the organization.
  • Increase in salary and incentives for individuals who have undergone certification 
  • This shows that the individual would bring value to the organization and they have the dedication and skills to excel at various aspects of Project Management. 

How to get a PMP certification?

Earning the PMP certification takes a lot of dedication and commitment, hence every PMP certification is valuable. There are certain prerequisites that a person has to fulfill so that they could apply for the PMP certification. They are:

  1. 35 hours or Project Management that includes training and education.
  2. 36 months (4,500 hours) of leading projects 
  3. A four-year degree

If these criteria could not be met, then these prerequisites have to be fulfilled:

  • 60 months (7,500 hours) of leading projects
  • A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or an equivalent degree from other countries)
  • 35 hours of Project Management training/education.

After the individual has met the criteria to attend the PMP exam, they have to fill out the application for PMP on the official page of Project Management Institute. The exam has 200 multiple choice questions and the candidate is given 240 minutes. The candidate must submit 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) every three years to renew their certification. The cost of the PMP certification is the program professionals with membership, $555 without membership. The PMI membership fee is $139 ($129+ $10 application one-time application fees). The 35 hours of courses would cost the candidate about US$350- US$500. The PMBOK could also be purchased to help in preparation for PMP certification which may cost about US$60.

IPMA VS PMP: What is the difference?


The Asian and the American countries (both North and South) heavily rely on the PMP-certified candidates to get their Project Management job done. PMP is significantly larger than IPMA as there are currently 8,33,000 PMP certifications issued by PMI. On the other hand, IPMA is prominent only in European countries as it has its roots in Germany and France, and headquarters in Switzerland. IPMA has issued 65,000 certifications in levels B and C and has turf in the European continent such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Southern Europe. If you are planning to pursue Project Management in European countries then IPMA is a better option as it is more in demand. Likewise, there is more demand for the PMP certification as most of Asia and the American continents prefer handling Project Management with the methods of Project Management Institute. But of course, when you are looking for a certification that would be widely accepted, PMP is a safer route even in southern European countries as IPMA and PMP are almost equal. 



We have already seen the educational and experience requirements for both courses, let us compare other requirements regarding both courses. IPMA does not need any courses, however, it is better to take a course based on the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (ICB). On the other hand, completing PMP requires the candidate to complete 35 hours of courses through a registered education provider or other course offerings if the syllabus is provided. ICB has 29 competence elements based on which professionals have to self-assess themselves which is applicable for all IPMA levels. This should be considered as a tool to evaluate yourself and not give glowing marks. There would be an assessor who would visit the workplace and confirm the results for levels B and C. 

IPMA Level B has an oral case study where a report which outlines the Project Management process is used and on-site assessment takes place. IPMA Level C requires the candidate to submit 14 short essay answers which are followed by an on-site assessment that confirms the results of the self-assessment. Likewise, PMP requires the candidate to write an exam after 35 hours of instruction is completed and when the candidate passes the exam, they get the certification.




IPMA certification and PMP are both prominent courses that would help the individual to succeed in their career. However, the type of project that the candidate would handle and the organization that they plan on working on decides which course they should be taking. Both courses have a high paying salary and both require dedication and skills to complete. It is always advisable to under the type of projects the candidate works on and then compare it to the syllabus of the course. This would help them to decide whether the course would offer them insights and help them perform better in their career. Also, networking with different experts who have taken these courses would also give a better understanding of what the candidate would experience after completing the course. Learning from practical experience, enquiring superior officials who would encourage you in your career, researching about the type of projects and organizations you would want to work in would all help you choose the correct course and help you enhance your career growth.



Get Certified Now


Enquire now

Get Advice

Click to Get Advice

Corporate Enquiry