About the levels

The Profession Map identifies four different impact levels and details the knowledge and behaviours required to excel at each of them. This means you can see exactly what it takes to make a positive contribution, whether you’re a senior leader, a dedicated specialist or just starting out in your field.

The levels are relevant to all people professionals:

  • regardless of your role or specialism
  • whether you’re a CIPD member or not
  • whether you’re an employee, a consultant or self-employed
  • wherever in the world you work.

The standards help you understand the knowledge and behaviours that will enable you to be your best – regardless of whether you move through the levels, or develop and excel at one particular level.

For example, if you currently make an impact at the Associate level, you may want to develop yourself towards the knowledge and behaviours at the Chartered Member level, as this will increase the impact you have on others, your organisation and the profession. Or you may prefer to stay at the Associate level, developing your expertise in a specific field by drawing on the relevant specialisms, or focusing your CPD on the knowledge and behaviours at this level.

Which level are you?

Start by browsing through the descriptions below to determine which level you broadly align with. If you identify with a couple of levels, explore these levels in more detail to help you identify which one most closely represents your work. When you know which level your work best aligns to, use the knowledge and behaviour standards at that level to make sure you’re having your best impact.

As you move through the levels, the nature of your work becomes more strategic, the way you use information changes, and the extent to which you influence and impact others increases.

Explore your level

Foundation level

Your work is likely to be tactical, and focused on the day-to-day delivery of tasks. You'll gather information to use in your role, and use information to understand your work, organisation and profession.

You'll work with and deliver immediate and short-term outcomes for your manager, colleagues and customers.

Foundation level is equivalent to Foundation Member (Foundation CIPD).

See Foundation level

Associate level

Your work will usually be operational, with some complexity. You'll contribute to the thinking around your work, and analyse information to inform your choices and actions.

You'll work with and influence immediate colleagues and customers, though your work will create short-term value for a wider audience.

Associate level is equivalent to Associate Member (Assoc CIPD).

See Associate level

Chartered Member level

Your work will require thinking at a strategic level, and have complexity in the thinking and/or delivery. You’ll critically question information and evaluate it to make judgements and decisions.

You'll work with and influence a range of stakeholders, creating medium to long-term value for a wide audience.

Chartered Member level is equivalent to Chartered Member (Chartered MCIPD).

See Chartered Member level

Chartered Fellow level

Your work is likely to be entirely strategic in thinking and/or delivery, with a significant level of complexity. You’ll develop evidence-based thinking to shape the profession or drive people change.

You'll influence stakeholders across the profession, and create long-term value for significant numbers of people.

Chartered Fellow level is equivalent to Chartered Fellow (Chartered FCIPD).

See Chartered Fellow level

The levels and CIPD membership

Anyone can use the levels to understand where they are in their career journey, and use the knowledge and behaviour standards to have the right impact at that level. The levels align to a corresponding CIPD membership grade.

CIPD membership is a badge of your professionalism: it showcases the level of impact you have reached within the profession and demonstrates your ongoing commitment to the highest professional standards.

Student Members do not align to any one specific level; it depends on the work you do, and the impact you have. Use the level descriptions above to determine which level you're at.

If you're an Affiliate Member working in the people profession, use the level descriptions above to determine which level you’re at.

The levels and your CPD

As a people professional, whichever impact level you’re at, you can develop and demonstrate some of the core knowledge and behaviour standards through volunteering on one of our programmes.

We’ve developed new tools to help you assess yourself against the Profession Map and support your continuing professional development (CPD). All available on the CIPD Learning Hub, which is free for CIPD members, you can:

•    discover development recommendation with our Self-assessment tool
•    create a personalised development journey with My Learning Plan
•    track and reflect on your learning with My CPD Reflections

The hub is our online learning platform where you can find courses and resources to support your career development. All courses are aligned to the Profession Map and are 100% evidence-based, discover available CIPD Learning courses here.

See more guides on how to use the Profession Map.

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