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The Difference Between CIPD Awards, Certificates, and Diplomas

CIPD Qualifications

If you’re looking for the perfect career choice, look no further than a role in the field of human resources (HR) and leadership and development (L&D). Whether you’ve recently graduated, changed careers, or decided to pursue professional development, it’s never too late to open up the doors to opportunity and advance in a field that’s always expanding.

As an HR or L&D professional, you can work anywhere, and whether you build your career locally or internationally, you can always keep progressing. With a variety of roles and specialisations, you can take your career in the direction that suits you best. Plus, you get to help people along the way. HR is about making sure your fellow colleagues are treated right and are granted the ability to learn and grow within their own roles.

Over time, the earning potential of HR and L&D professionals is significant. However, it requires hard work and dedication to your own professional development. With the help of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), HR and L&D professionals are being offered the chance to learn, develop their careers, and connect with other professionals across industries.

The CIPD offers several options for professionals to pursue career advancement including awards, certificates, and diplomas. Although there are several differences between the qualifications, the primary goal of them all is to motivate professionals and organisations by providing the necessary skills and knowledge to drive growth and innovation. That being said, it’s important to understand which one is the right qualification for your specific goals and needs.

Consider the following requirements, time obligations, and outcomes for each qualification so that you can pick the right CIPD award, certificate, or diploma to succeed at your dream career.

CIPD Awards

The CIPD Award

The smallest qualification is the CIPD Award, which grants students the opportunity to study a specialised topic. Students choose from a range of professional areas in order to gain knowledge in a specific field or area of HR and L&D, thus making it the perfect choice for professionals looking to learn more about issues related to their current job or field.

Depending on the level at which the CIPD Award is granted, the qualification can take anywhere from 30 to 120 hours, which includes between 15 and 60 guided learning hours. Therefore, it can take a total of 1 to 6 months to complete an Award. There are no entry requirements set by the CIPD, but rather the requirements are determined by the individual study centers.

Some examples of obtainable CIPD Awards include:

  • Award in Human Resources Essentials
  • Award in Learning and Development

Study centers delivering the necessary training to achieve the CIPD Award exist around the world. Therefore, no matter where your career takes you, you will have the opportunity to pursue this qualification.

More CIPD Awards

CIPD Certificates

The CIPD Certificate

Building on the knowledge gained through the CIPD Award, the CIPD Certificate provides the basic information on the essential subjects within the fields of HR and L&D. The intermediate qualification establishes a significant foundation of human resources in a wider context.

Some examples of obtainable CIPD Certificates include:

  • Certificate in Human Resources Practice
  • Certificate in Human Resources Management
  • Certificate in Learning and Development

Thus, the CIPD Certificate is perfect for established professionals within the field or recent graduates with experience in HR. A certificate demonstrates to recruiters and employers that you take your career seriously and are ready to put in the effort to prove your qualifications.

Similar to the CIPD Award, the CIPD Certificate can be achieved almost anywhere in the world. On average, it takes 9 months to complete the certificate, which includes 280 hours of qualification time and 140 guided learning hours. Upon completion, a CIPD Certificate also leads to a CIPD professional membership.

More CIPD Certificates

CIPD Diplomas

A CIPD Diploma

The most prestigious of the CIPD offerings is the CIPD Diploma which provides in-depth coverage of important generalist and specialist subject areas. This detailed qualification develops a student’s skillset and breadth of knowledge within HR and L&D, leading directly to a CIPD professional membership.

The CIPD Diploma is comprised of a total of 380 study hours, 190 of which should be private study. In total, it can take approximately 12 months to complete this qualification. Similar to the previous qualifications, entry requirements are set by the individual study centers. But, due to the time commitment and course content, the CIPD Diploma is recommended for current professionals looking to gain specialist knowledge and advance their careers.

Some examples of obtainable CIPD Diplomas include:

  • Diploma in Human Resources Development
  • Diploma in Applied Human Resources

Upon completion of the CIPD Diploma, HR and L&D professionals have proven their commitment to the field and demonstrate to employers that they are ready to lead their own teams and make organisational decisions. Therefore, the CIPD Diploma is the guaranteed way to carve out a career path that offers the chance to make the greatest impact with the highest earning potential.

More CIPD Diplomas

Are You Ready for the Challenge?

CIPD Qualifications

No matter which qualification you pursue, students will gain resources, support, and connections through the CIPD that will set them up for career success. Additionally, a CIPD Award, Certificate, or Diploma boosts the recipient’s CV or resume, highlighting the ability for HR and L&D professionals to make decisions that can positively affect the organisations they work for.

Therefore, there’s no reason not to begin your CIPD journey today!

You won’t regret it when you have the job you’ve always dreamed of and bringing home the salary you deserve.

So, explore all your options and choose the one that’s best for you at

Explore CIPD Qualifications

About the Author

Abby works as the Communications Team Lead for with a mission of connecting learning leaders with the data and information they need to provide the best training possible for their people.

Originally from Indianapolis in the U.S., Abby studied her bachelor’s at Hanover College in Business and Literature and has worked for findcourses since 2015. She is passionate about corporate learning and works internally to help organise Learning at Work Week within's company of 165 team members, and provide and source external training in content creation as an in-house expert.

Abby is also the creator and editor of the UK L&D Report which interviews and surveys L&D leaders from top UK companies to help uncover data-driven best practice and easy-to-implement advice.

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Last updated: 15 Jul 2019

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