Civil Service HR (CSHR) and the CIPD have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which highlights a powerful commitment to build a strong, high-performing HR community that can best support the hundreds of thousands of employees in the wider Civil Service workforce. One of the opportunities highlighted by the new partnership is access to professional membership and, in turn, a range of research and development tools to support CSHR practitioners in their current role and their career development.

On this page you'll find information about the three routes into CIPD professional membership: UpgradingExperience Assessment and Professional qualifications

Once you formally apply for professional membership, further FAQs will be provided to guide you through the full assessment with hints and tips on how to prepare.

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Professional membership is a respected badge of credibility, recognising your knowledge, expertise and impact in HR. It demonstrates you have met CIPD’s rigorous criteria and standards for good practice, and enables you to measure, develop and future-proof your performance against the industry benchmark. It allows you to use the designation after your name (e.g. S. C. Bank, Chartered MCIPD), reflecting your commitment towards good practice, continuing professional development and the CIPD’s Code of Professional Conduct.  

Professional membership means you will be part of a growing and vibrant community of HR professionals bringing together leading-edge research, experience, resources, networks and thought leadership. 

There are three levels of professional membership: 

  • Associate
  • Chartered Member
  • Chartered Fellow

The level of membership you hold will reflect your level of HR knowledge, responsibility and impact at different points of your career.

Why is Professional Membership important to CSHR?

CSHR has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CIPD, which signals our intention for the Civil Service to uphold the highest standards of HR professionalism.  As part of the agreement – and our HR capability strategy – we are providing more opportunities for our employees to learn, acquire qualifications and professionalise.

There are two routes to CIPD Professional Membership:

  • Studying for a CIPD qualification and going through an upgrading assessment 
  • Accrediting your experience via Experience Assessment  

The criteria for professional membership (Associate, Chartered Member and Chartered Fellow) is the same whichever route you take.

Which Professional Membership is relevant for you?

The CIPD will help you work out which of our three membership levels are most relevant for you. 

Associate Membership

  • Do you play an active and key role within your HR department?
  • Do you have consistent evidence of providing HR advice, support and guidance to managers and employers?
  • Can you demonstrate how you have supported HR programmes, projects and/or improvements within your organisation to deliver results? 
  • Are you able to show how you build insight into HR and organisational issues to inform decision making? 

Chartered Membership

  • Do you have consistent evidence of managing, developing and implementing complex HR projects and programmes gained in the last three years? 
  • Can you demonstrate the impact of your HR work on the business using metrics, business outputs and feedback? 
  • Do you work and plan for the future, thinking 12-18 months ahead (for example planning HR business activity over a financial year or managing longer-term projects involving a range of stakeholders)? 
  • Do you have sustained evidence of aligning HR work to meet business needs? 
  • Can you demonstrate your commercial understanding of your organisation(s) with evidence of developing or working on HR business cases? 

Chartered Fellowship

  • Do you have evidence of developing, delivering and implementing wide-reaching and long-term HR strategy over the last three to five years? 
  • Can you evidence the impact of this strategy through evaluation of business outputs such as business metrics, financial or people measures? 
  • Can you demonstrate how you have integrated HR strategy with the business vision, strategy and objectives? 
  • Do you work to timescales of three years or longer, for example developing, delivering and evaluating HR strategy over a period of time? 
  • Are you commercially savvy with evidence of developing compelling HR business cases at a senior level? 

When should I apply for Professional Membership?

CSHR will be partnering with the CIPD over the long term to professionalise HR, so while we would encourage you to apply if you are ready, there will be plenty of future opportunities. If you are interested in applying now, you will need to be able to provide work-based HR examples from the last three years and be able to show a consistency of evidence within that timeframe.  

Upgrading your professional membership

Your membership level should reflect your level of HR knowledge, responsibility and impact at different points of your career. Upgrading your professional membership level recognises your knowledge and capability, and enhances your credibility and relevance.

You don’t necessarily need to upgrade through each membership level, i.e. Associate member to Chartered Member to Chartered Fellow. You should apply for the level of membership that is most relevant for you.

You may be eligible to upgrade if you achieved one of the following:

  • CIPD Advanced Diploma in HRM or HRD, (or its equivalent) or are an existing Chartered Member.
  • CIPD Advanced Diploma coupled with sufficient experience.
  • Chartered Member level through Experience Assessment and can demonstrate the relevant experience. 
Upgrading not for you? We recommend you consider Experience Assessment (below) or studying a Professional qualification.
 

I have the relevant qualification but am not currently in membership. Can I still apply to upgrade?

In the first instance, contact the CIPD on 0208 612 6208. We will be happy to look at your qualification history and provide you with the relevant advice and guidance.

Is Upgrading restricted to certain CSHR grades?

No, it’s open to everyone in CSHR - provided they have the required qualification and relevant experience.

Can I apply to upgrade my professional membership if I’m in a specialist HR role?

Yes you can, as long as you have the required qualification and relevant experience behind you.

Is Upgrading restricted to certain CSHR grades?

No, it’s open to everyone in CSHR - provided they have the required qualification and relevant experience.

You’ll be asked to provide work-based examples to demonstrate at least three years’ current experience working consistently at the level you’re applying at. You’ll also need to provide feedback from your line manager supporting the work you’ve done and the impact you’ve had.

You have a choice of two assessment methods:

  • You can opt for a 45-minute telephone discussion with an Assessor from the CIPD, who will ask questions to explore your experience against the membership criteria, probing for more information where necessary. In advance of the call, all you’ll need to provide is feedback from your line manager; you will not have to complete any online assessments.

  • Alternatively, you can complete an online application form - ideal for those of you who like to get your thinking on paper.  You’ll also need to ask two colleagues (one of which should be your line manager) to support your application by giving examples of your recent work and the impact it’s had on the business.  Once you’ve submitted your application, you will not be able to provide any additional evidence so you’re encouraged to spend time upfront considering carefully which work examples you use to showcase how you meet the criteria.  

More detailed information on how to apply for either of these upgrading methods will be sent to you by the CIPD once they have reviewed your CV.

How long will the Upgrade assessment take?

It depends which upgrading method you choose.  

If you opt for the telephone route, the assessment itself takes 45-minutes.  You should also allow time beforehand to prepare your examples and to obtain colleague feedback.

If you opt for the online assessment, you can work at your own pace. You will be issued the online application form and will have a period of six weeks in which to submit your completed application, including manager/colleague feedback.

When will the Upgrade assessment start?

CSHR will be running a number of cohorts over the year with varying start dates. Individuals will be allocated to a cohort with timelines that suit.

How do I apply to upgrade?

You will need to:

  1. Read 'About CIPD Professional Membership' (above) to help you decide if you are ready to progress your level of professional membership.
  2. Gain approval from your Line Manager and budget holder.
  3. Update your CV. Or you may prefer to use the CIPD’s Career Summary Form.

Whether you submit your CV or CIPD’s Career Summary Form, you need to ensure you provide the following: 

  • Employment dates and timeframes 
  • Your current role, including key accountabilities, responsibilities and achievements which demonstrate the scope and scale of the projects you have worked on. 
  • Previous roles and organisations you have been employed by, particularly focusing on the last three years.

You should then email cshr@cabinetoffice.gov.uk with a copy of your CV/Career Summary Form, together with approval confirmation (email is sufficient) from your Line Manager and/or budget holder detailing which upgrade route you wish to pursue, to allow overall monitoring against contract spend. 

What happens next?

These applications of interest will then be forwarded to CIPD who will review your information to check your eligibility to upgrade based on your qualification history and your work experience detailed on your CV/Career Summary Form.

You will then receive feedback directly from CIPD as to your eligibility together with guidance as to which membership level you should apply for. You’ll be sent registration and invoicing instructions for the Upgrade assessment.

When will the Upgrade assessment start?

CSHR will be running a number of cohorts over the year with varying start dates. Individuals will be allocated to a cohort with timelines that suit.

When will I receive my results?

When you start your assessment, the CIPD will agree a timeline with you and let you know upfront when you can expect to receive your assessment outcome.  

Upon successful completion of the assessment you will be awarded professional membership with the CIPD, either Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow. You will receive an email confirming the outcome; you’ll also receive an official certificate and will be entitled to use designation letters after your name, e.g. S. C. Bank, Chartered MCIPD. 

Who will be notified of my results?

The CIPD will share summary information with CSHR for each cohort, which will include overall assessment outcomes and key trends on strengths and development areas. 

What is the pass rate? 

Thanks to the pre-screening offered by the CIPD, over 86% of candidates are successful in achieving a level of professional membership via Upgrading.

What happens if I am not successful? 

You will be provided with feedback to help you understand your assessment outcome and will be encouraged to address all development areas and gain further HR experience before reapplying to upgrade.  

What is the criteria to get funding for Upgrading by CSHR?

Funding will come from individual departments who will need to decide who they fund/support.

Why are there two differing costs for Upgrading?

The CIPD offers two different ways for you to upgrade your professional membership to suit your own preferred working style and time commitments. You need to decide which upgrade assessment method is best for you in order to ensure you apply for the relevant funding.

Upgrading rates

Route Chartered Member Chartered Fellow
Telephone assessment £120 £250
Online application £65 £90

Experience Assessment

Experience Assessment (EA) is a direct route to CIPD professional membership. It doesn’t require you to sit an exam, nor do you need a qualification in HR to be eligible. Instead, we ask you to provide written examples of your HR work experience from the last three years to showcase how you meet the membership criteria. You’ll then be invited to a Professional Discussion with an Assessor from CIPD to talk through your knowledge and experience in more detail. 

Why should I apply for Experience Assessment?

Experience Assessment offers you the opportunity to gain professional recognition for your HR experience and achievements. The assessment encourages you to reflect not only on the business impact of your work but also gives you a chance to focus forwards on your own continuous development.

Find out first-hand from people who've been through experience assessment - watch our video: The non-study route into CIPD membership: Experience Assessment.

Experience Assessment is a great choice if you:

  • Have built up a bank of HR and/or L&D knowledge and experience and can provide a range of work-based HR examples from the last three years.
  • Want recognition for your HR or L&D contribution to organisational success.
  • Seek a flexible route into professional membership that works around your lifestyle without having to study a full qualification.

Is Experience Assessment restricted to certain CSHR grades? 

No, it’s open to everyone. However, it is recommended for, although not exclusive to, staff at SEO (or equivalent) and above, who do not hold the required CIPD qualification and want their HR credentials recognised against the industry standard.

Can I go through Experience Assessment if I’m in a specialist HR role? 

Yes you can, as long as you have the relevant experience behind you to meet the criteria.

Experience Assessment involves a rigorous and rewarding assessment process. You’ll be asked to complete a series of written assessments online over an eight-week period. It will conclude with a 3.5-hour face-to-face (or internet) discussion with an Assessor from the CIPD. 

You’ll be given the opportunity to demonstrate your effectiveness as an HR practitioner by showcasing the impact you’ve had on your organisation or Civil Service HR more broadly. Central to this is how you connect in with the business to develop genuine insight into how HR can contribute to successful business outcomes.  In addition to considering ‘what’ you do, EA also examines ‘how’ you operate by assessing behavioural competencies in line with CIPD’s Profession Map

If you apply for EA, you will be invited to a briefing session and the CIPD will go into further detail about the assessment, helping you understand how to approach the questions, and providing useful hints and tips on how to prepare.

How long will Experience Assessment take?

Experience Assessment has been designed to fit around your work commitments. You should expect to invest around 10-15 days of your time over an eight-week period to complete a range of online assessments. 

When will Experience Assessment start?

CSHR will be running a number of cohorts over the year with varying start dates. Individuals will be allocated to a cohort with timelines that suit.

How do I apply for Experience Assessment?

You will need to:

  1. Read 'About CIPD Professional Membership' (above) to see if you are ready to apply for professional membership via EA.  
  2. Gain approval from your line manager and budget holder
  3. Update your CV. Or you may prefer to use the CIPD’s Career Summary Form.

Whether you submit your CV or CIPD’s Career Summary Form, you need to ensure you provide the following:

  • Employment dates and timeframes 
  • Your current role, including key accountabilities, responsibilities and achievements which demonstrate the scope and scale of the projects you have worked on. 
  • Previous roles and organisations you have been employed by, particularly focusing on the last three years.
  1. You should then email cshr@cabinetoffice.gov.uk with a copy of your CV/Career Summary Form, together with approval confirmation (email is sufficient) from your line manager and/or budget holder, to allow overall monitoring against contract spend.

What happens next?

Those applications of interest will be forwarded to the CIPD, who will contact you and arrange a Pre-Assessment Discussion (45-minute telephone call) to explore whether Experience Assessment is the right route at this time and agree the most appropriate level for you to apply at based on your experience. At the end of your Pre-Assessment Discussion you will receive feedback as to your eligibility and be sent an email outlining full registration and invoicing instructions.

When will I receive my results?

When you start your assessment, the CIPD will agree a timeline with you and let you know upfront when you can expect to receive your assessment outcome.  

You will receive a personalised feedback report confirming the membership level you have been awarded, highlighting your strengths and development areas, together with next steps to feed into your development plans. You will also receive an official certificate and be entitled to use the designation after your name, e.g. S. C. Bank, Chartered MCIPD. 

Upon successful completion, you will be awarded professional membership with CIPD, either Associate, Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow.

CSHR is keen to celebrate success and you will be invited to a future 150 event to receive your certificate.

Who will see my feedback report?

Your feedback report will not be shared with anyone and will remain confidential to you.  You are encouraged to share key themes with your line manager so they can support your development.  

The CIPD will share summary information with CSHR for each cohort, which will include overall assessment outcomes and key trends on strengths and development areas. 

What is the pass rate? 

Thanks to the pre-screening offered by the CIPD, over 90% of candidates are successful in achieving a level of professional membership via Experience Assessment.

What happens if I am not successful? 

You will be provided with detailed feedback to help you understand your assessment outcome with tailored development recommendations specific to you. You will be encouraged to address all development areas and gain further HR experience as outlined in your report before reapplying for Experience Assessment.  

Find out more about CIPD Experience Assessment

What is the criteria to get funding for Experience Assessment by CSHR?

Funding will come from individual departments. These departments will need to decide who they fund/support, whether it be for one individual or a group of employees, in line with the criteria outlined below:

  • Those applying will need to have built up a bank of HR knowledge and experience and be able to provide a range of work-based HR examples from the last three years.
  • The individual/employees must currently be working in a role in CSHR. 
  • There is a local budget available and the application is supported by the line manager. 
  • Personal individual commitment has been made to continuous professional development and achieving accreditation.

I’m a senior leader in the HR Function and I wish to sponsor a group of employees.  What do I do?

Please email cshr@cabinetoffice.gov.uk in the first instance. The CIPD will allocate you a dedicated Project Manager who can work with you to understand the requirements of your team and agree on suitable timelines.  

How much does Experience Assessment cost?

CSHR has agreed the rate of £2,650 per candidate for a managed and tailored service. Candidates will complete EA within cohorts of 8-12 people. This managed service offers greater support to candidates going through the assessment, and provides CSHR with valuable insight into the strengths and development trends across CSHR’s HR functions in order to create targeted development plans for the future.

In addition to the assessment fee, you will need to be a CIPD member. This will give you access to an extensive and unrivalled range of networks, research and resources to support you through the assessment, but also with your daily work and career development. If you are not already a CIPD member, fees are detailed below:

Experience assessment fees

Fee Associate member Chartered Member Chartered Fellow
Joining fee £40 £40 £40
Membership fee £148 £174 £199

Got a question about CIPD membership?

Email Civil Service HR

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