Certified Project Director (CPD)

A Certified Project Director (CPD) has the proven ability to lead multiple, complex projects, programs and portfolios of work.

They make high-level autonomous decisions and use initiative and judgement to navigate a diverse range of activities that span functions, organisations, regions and cultures.

How do I get certified?

Certified Project Director

CPD candidates must evidence a threshold minimum of two years’ program or portfolio leadership experience before proceeding to the assessment.

Qualifying programs you have led must meet the minimum standard for complexity specified below, and years of leadership experience may be accumulated non-consecutively (for example, over four calendar years).

Evidence can be presented in the form of an up-to-date resume listing the projects worked on and the role that you fulfilled.

You must also nominate four (4) referees who you either reported to (for example, an executive manager) or were accountable to (for example, a program sponsor, senior stakeholder or client) in the delivery of one or more of these projects.

We will directly contact at least two of these referees via a 15 minute telephone interview to validate your experience.

How do you assess a CPD?

In order to demonstrate their competence as a Project Director, CPD candidates are required to identify a complex public or private program of work they have recently led and conduct a comprehensive review of its performance.

In order to meet the minimum threshold of complexity, the program reviewed must involve a minimum of five (5) related projects, concurrently performed. At least three (3) of the projects must involve:

  • A delivery team of three (3) or more people (including the project manager)
  • Detailed project documentation at all stages
  • Formal governance structure (for example, a sponsor and/or steering committee)
  • Multiple stakeholder relationships

A panel of distinguished program and portfolio experts will conduct an interview with you to assess your:

  • Knowledge of program and portfolio leadership best-practice
  • Experience in applying this knowledge to your program(s) and/or portfolio(s), and
  • Skills in responding to and managing change within your program(s) and/or portfolio(s), as well as your ability to critically review your performance and integrate lessons learned into the performing organisation.

As part of your review preparation, you should be ready to address and evidence the following:

  • Program assets, including (but not limited to):
    • program policies
    • program process and procedures
    • program systems (for example: templates; software)
  • Program performance, including (but not limited to):
    • planned versus actual performance to scope, schedule and budget
    • stakeholder identification and communication
    • business case development
    • scope definition and management
    • schedule development and control
    • cost estimating and control
    • risk identification, prioritisation and treatment
    • human resource availability and performance
    • quality planning and control
    • procurement / contract management
    • program and project governance and change control
    • program and project delivery and handover
    • other lessons learned

The panel interview simulates a Board level interrogation of your program or portfolio performance – it is not an oral presentation of your status (eg PowerPoint).

You will be contacted directly to schedule your panel assessment once your qualifying criteria have been assessed.

In order to successfully complete this assessment, you will also need to be familiar with larger issues, such as the portfolio management frameworks, theories and best practice; more importantly, you need to have a deep understanding of the portfolio you have reviewed and the major issues encountered.

Assessing skills, not CVs

The CPD certification requirements are intentionally flexible, and allow you to submit documentation and reviews that you may have previously undertaken as evidence of your competence.

Unfortunately, a detailed Curriculum Vitae or resume – even one with references – is only testimony that you have worked on projects, and not independent evidence that you are competent to the requisite standard!

Unlike in other certification programs, our holistic, human assessment of candidates is not done by robots.

Employers can be assured that IPM Certified Project Directors have undergone the most rigorous interrogation and third-party validation of their knowledge and skills via written, oral and face-to-face interactions.

What are the benefits of IPM certification?

Certified Project Director

Institute of Project Management (IPM) credentials validate contemporary best practices in the discipline of project management. By not slavishly adhereing to (or evangelizing) any one standard, methodology or industry approach, our credentials provide a highly rigorous and transferable baseline of skills that can be applied in any project context.

IPM credential holders are critical thinkers; they are the project leaders, problem solvers and innovators of the 21st century.

An IPM credential therefore opens up a wealth of career opportunities for the project manager. It expands your market reach, enhances your project management skills, displays your ability to handle challenging projects, earns you critical projects, and increases your salary by a huge margin.

So why should I certify my project management knowledge and skills with IPM?

  • Access our free, open, online knowledge library – don’t pay for expensive preparation courses
  • Consider alternative assessment options, including the recognition of your prior project management learning
  • Receive lifetime certification – no membership, subscription or ongoing fees are required
  • Guaranteed global recognition – your project management passport!
  • Access direct pathways to higher certification and/or qualifications
  • Exponentially increase your career potential and rewards

Why do employers prefer IPM certifications?

The CPD certification is the most rigorous skills-based certification for executive project and program leaders in the world today.

By taking a 21st century approach to learning and assessment, it also is the most durable and cost-effective option for candidates looking to independently assure their value to current and potential employers.

These are some of the reasons why employers are looking for IPM certifications linked to your name:

  • Comprehensive and independent certification that validates knowledge, skills and experience
  • Candidates demonstrate their practical application of knowledge, as opposed to theory-based assessment
  • IPM assesses people, not CVs – we personally interview, challenge and reference check all candidates at the CPP level and higher
  • Instant, online validation of certification authenticity is available via Credly through Linkedin
  • IPM’s certification marks and post-nominals are accredited to explicitly defined and regularly audited international standards
  • Candidates are bound to IPM Code of Ethics for Project Professionals
  • Organisations employing IPM certified candidates immediately observe improved project performance

How does CPD compare to other certifications?


Frequently asked questions

The Certified Project Director designation is an official certification mark authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and internationally protected by IP Australia.

Admission to the Institute of Project Management as a Certified Project Director allows you to post-nominally use the letters CPD in all formal and official correspondence (eg Jane Smith CPD)

That depends on where you work…

In 2015, the median salary for a project manager in Australia was AU$139,037 per year – in the USA, it was US$108,000.

Interestingly, having even a basic certification or qualification in project management added around 20% to the value of of an individual’s salary.

The best country to work as a project manager is Switzerland (Australia is ranked #2, and the USA is #3), while the worst is Egypt. If you want to know what a project manager usually earns in your country, just ask us!

For a small fee, candidates can be assessed in their native language.

Please contact us directly for more info.

The CPD certification currently costs US$850 to complete.

You can either pay online when you complete the enrolment form, or request an invoice (if, for example, you would like your employer to pay on your behalf).

The whole program was professional from start to the finish and the trainers were excellent in helping me to understand how to effectively use the learnings into my workplace.

Yahya Assiri, CPP
Proprietor / D’Tandoor restaurant

What’s next?

Upon being admitted to the Institute of Project Management as a Certified Project Director, you might like to invite your colleagues to consider our other certifications or qualifications in project management.

  • A Certified Project Officer (CPO) is a fundamental contributor to any project team. They have been examined on at least 30 hours of project management study, and can employ project management knowledge in a wide variety of settings, taking responsibility for their own work performance.

    Certified Project Officer (CPO)

  • A Certified Project Professional (CPP) applies contemporary project management tools, techniques and methods to the unique context of each project they undertake. They identify and respond proactively to project risks, opportunities and issues, keeping stakeholders fully informed throughout.

    Certified Project Professional

  • A Certified Project Master (CPM) is a project leader and innovator. They have been independently assessed against a broad range of project management competencies, and can apply a suite of specialised technical and managerial skills to initiate, plan, execute and evaluate their own project work and the work of others.

    Certified Project Master (CPM)

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