Level 3 or 5?

So I'm thinking about undertaking a CIPD qualification.

I do have some past HR experience, although never formally in title, so looking at the new qualifications, I was thinking Level 3 would be appropriate.

But then I also saw that if one is a graduate, they could actually start at Level 5. I'm not afraid of a heavy study load, nor am I worried about my academic writing skills. Also, Level 5 would confer Assoc status, whereas the new Level 3 only gives Foundation membership.

Can I ask what everyone's thoughts are?


  • Hi Alexander, I'm currently studying level 5 and did not do level 3. I have a small amount of HR admin experience and have other experience of dealing with people at all levels of business. I left school many years ago with highers and did not do a degree. My advice would be to go for level 5, as after qualifying there will be more options for work eg HR manager, hr advisor etc. I'm finding level 5 really enjoyable and wished I had done it years ago!
  • In reply to Amanda:

    Thanks Amanda!!
  • In reply to Amanda:

    I am currently doing level 5. I have a lot of experience in HR but no degree. So far I am finding it straightforward to follow, I would say go for it. Are you self-funding? There is usually a 14 day cooling off period (at least if you are doing the fully remote course), so I’m sure you could switch to L3 if needed. I doubt you would though, if you have a degree.
  • Thanks Christine!!
  • In reply to Amanda:

    Hi Amanda,
    I am coming to the end of my undergraduate degree in Psychology and would like to pursue a career in HR. Originally I was considering doing a masters however I believe a CIPD qualification would be far more appropriate. I don't really have any prior experience in HR so was thinking the foundation Level 3 would be the best place to start. Being in a relatively similar situation to Alexander would you also recommend going straight into Level 5 as an undergrad or do the Level 3 to gain a better understanding first? Thanks for your help!
  • Hey Jonny,

    I decided to go for Level 5 in the end and I’m finding it really quite manageable. I’d recommend Level 5 personally.

  • Hi Alexander I'm glad you went for level 5 and I'm glad you are enjoying it!
  • Hi Jonny I think that with having your degree you would be better starting at level 5. Could your degree let you do level 7? I'm not sure, but it's definitely worth investigating!