4 February, 2019

What is the IAPM, and Why Should You Care?

The International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) is global in scope. Yet it is perhaps not as well-known as it should be.

It is dedicated to learning, certification, and networking for Project Managers. So, it has a lot in common with us. We covered its qualifications in our review: ‘Project Management Qualification: Should I or Shouldn’t I?’

That’s why we asked two of its Network Officials to tell you all about it. This article is the work of Bernd Ottmann and Linda Ottmann.

What is the IAPM?

What is the IAPM? And Why Should You Care?

The IAPM is a global association and certification body for project managers. Its base is in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Unlike many other project management organizations, the IAPM is not a membership association. It has no paying members, but only voluntary ‘members’ or certificate holders. They have no duties towards the organization.

Learning, Certification, and Networking

IAPM produces documents for Project Managers to use in their own self-study programs. And they also offer certifications for certain project manager degrees. In addition, their networking opportunities put project managers in touch with like‑minded professionals. And all these benefits come without having to pay a membership fee.

Who are the IAPM’s Members?

The IAPM’s members are project managers who come together through their networks. They are all:

  • certificate holders or project managers in represented areas,
  • followers on social networks or
  • attendees of professional groups and committees.

The IAPM manages its regions through its Network Officials and Ambassadors.

History of the IAPM

The IAPM started out in 1997, as a loose network of international project managers. The aim was to gain and exchange project management knowledge.

Then, a year later, it released the PM Guide 1.0. This laid the basis for further developments and shaped the IAPM into what it is today.

2010: A Big Year for the IAPM

In the following years, the loose network grew. It started hosting regular conferences: the ‘International Project Manager Meetings’. Its network grew. As a result of this and its goal to improve project management worldwide, the IAPM introduced its certification body in 2010.

In December 2010, it published the PM Guide 2.0 and followed it one month later with the Scrum Guide 1.0.

2011: Certifications

In the same year, the PM certification started for:

  • Project Manager, and
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Scrum Manager

2013: Agile

Later, in 2013, Certified Scrum Manager was replaced by the Certified Agile Project Manager. This came together with the release of the Agile Guide 2.0 (which replaced the Scrum Guide 1.0).

2014: International Project Management

In December 2013, IAPM published the International Project Management Guide 2.0. And, since 2014 the certification for Certified International Project Manager has been available.

2015: Student Level Certification

IAPM also wanted to meet the need for certifications in project management at universities and other higher education institutions. So, it introduced:

  • Certified Junior Project Manager in February 2015, and
  • Certified Junior Agile Project Manager in October 2017

Continued Thought Leadership

More recent highlights include:

  • The Whitepaper for Hybrid PM (May 2017)
  • The Whitepaper for Resource Management (June 2018)

Facts and Figures

IAPM Facts & Figures

By the end of 2018, the IAPM has met its strategic goals for 2018. Its network connects more than 21,000 project managers from 117 nations.

Around the world, IAPM is represented by:

  • 35 IAPM Network Officials and
  • 12 IAPM Network University Officials

Over 3,400 examinees passed its certification exams, with a success rate of about 83%. The top ten nations that its certificate holders come from are:

  1. Germany
  2. Austria
  3. Switzerland
  4. India
  5. Hungary
  6. Poland
  7. Nigeria
  8. Russia
  9. United Kingdom
  10. Netherlands.

The IAPM’s Mission is Learning

These days, people get knowledge through a wide range of methods and media. More and more ‘modern’ learning methods are replacing ‘traditional’ ones. Both the IAPM and OnlinePMCourses are at the forefront of this.

But there’s a challenge. Modern methods can often lack examination and certification rigor. Yet, these are fully integrated into traditional methods.

The IAPM’s Solution

The IAPM is committed to examining knowledge:

  • objectively
  • neutrally, and
  • meeting the latest research and development findings.

The IAPM does not prescribe how students should gain the necessary knowledge. However, it does make project experience mandatory for some types of certification.

IAPM Certification

The IAPM issues a numbered certificate to candidates who pass their examination. This confirms their level of knowledge at the time of the examination.

Employers can verify a certificate’s authenticity – and therefore the holder’s level of knowledge – online. They can do so by entering the certificate holder’s name and certification level. The certificate officially documents the holder’s knowledge. Project Managers can use these for various purposes, such as:

  • Job applications in a professional environment
  • Company verification of employees’ competence
  • Procurement, in the supplier acquisition processes

The IAPM’s Three Goals

The IAPM’s aims are to:

  • Connect project managers,
  • Improve project management by reducing complexity in certification process, and
  • Offer valuable information to everybody, worldwide.

The IAPM also has a purpose to promote project management:

  • Research
  • Development, and
  • Practical applications.

It processes and communicates project experiences, research knowledge, and teachings. And it reviews and improves project management competence thorough knowledge and skills assessments.


Perhaps IAPM’s most distinctive purpose is to foster international cooperation. In this, it aims to develop and refine project management standards and best practices. Therefore, it sets out guidelines for basic and advanced project management training.

IAPM is Not-for-Profit

The association is a non-profit organization and does not engage in commercial activities. IAPM may only use its funds for the purposes set out in the articles of association.

The IAPM is a registered association in the Principality of Liechtenstein (no. FL-0002.353.470-6) and has a non-profit status. The IAPM is a registered trademark (CTM trademark and DE trademark).

Why Should You Consider IAPM ‘Membership’?

IAPM’s qualifications meet high standards. They are particularly valuable for Project Managers who want to work internationally. So, for example, it certifies project managers of the United Nations. So, its methodologies contribute to the successful handling of UN projects.

The Standard of its Qualifications

IAPM’s certifications are based on a global standard. So, they are comparable all over the world. They are not limited by national certification standards. IAPM boast that its:

  • Business processes and quality management system conform to the international standard ISO 9001. This is a standard for quality management systems.
  • Certificates are validated with a unique serial number, the ‘IAPM Identification Code’ (IAPMIC). This allows the viewer to verify the authenticity of certificate on their website.
  • Certificates are recognized by the German Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

How Does IAPM Compare with other Associations and Institutes?

A certification provides project managers with clear competitive advantages. It can help to launch or boost your career.

Of course, there cannot be the one and only certification for a project manager that covers all needs. So, if you are interested in taking a certification, here are some thoughts to consider.

  • What are your personal goals?
  • And how much effort do you want to invest in your training?
  • What are the prevailing employment circumstances?
  • Has your employer already have chosen a certification provider?

However, when you make your choice, here are the benefits of IAPM certification.

Why you should care

IAPM ensures objective certification through randomized examination questions via its online examination system.
It provides additional material such as:

  • Free PM Guides for acquiring basic knowledge in project management
  • The chance to share and discuss valuable information in the IAPM blog
  • Many ways to connect with other project managers around the world.

Do you already hold a Project Management certificate from another organization? IAPM offers the opportunity for certificate recognition. And their certificates are valid a life time, with no recurring re-certification costs. This is because IAPM believes your qualification shows you as a responsible project manager who has independently expanded your knowledge and experience. The IAPM does not see itself as a supervisory body.

IAPM is not a membership association. If you decide to join its network, there are neither commitments nor fees, just benefits.

IAPM Certification Program

You can choose between various disciplines and pick the certification that suits you best.

The IAPM Certifications for Project Managers
The IAPM Certifications for Project Managers

The chart shows the IAPM’s certifications (traditional and agile project management).

The first set of certifications confirm the holder’s theoretical project management knowledge. These are Certified:

  • Junior Project Manager (IAPM),
  • Project Manager (IAPM),
  • Junior Agile Project Manager (IAPM) and
  • Agile Project Manager (IAPM)

The next set go beyond the holder’s theoretical project management knowledge. They also confirm at least five years of professional experience in project management. Three of those must be in a leadership position. This is a requirement for admission to the certification examination.

  • Certified Senior Project Manager (IAPM) and
  • Certified Senior Agile Project Manager (IAPM)

But, IAPM is nothing, if not international…

Certified International Project Manager (IAPM) Certification

IAPM certificate holders (except the junior variants) are also eligible for Certified International Project Manager. This confirms their theoretical knowledge in the field of international project management.

IAPM Training Certification

IAPM also offers a certification for its training partners. This is the Certified Project Management Trainer (IAPM).

Requirements and Routes to Certification

These days, people acquire knowledge with a wide range of methods and media. So, the IAPM doesn’t prescribe any one method. It leaves the choice of method up to you, the certification candidate. Examples include:

  • School
  • University
  • Training
  • Self-study
  • Coaching

or a combination.

The IAPM provides a ‘self-test’ that isn’t dependent on participation in a course. You can take it online. The self-test lets you find any knowledge gaps, to help you meet the pre-certification learning requirements.

An examination will test and confirm your level of knowledge. When you pass, the IAPM will issue you a numbered certificate. Employers can verify your certificate’s authenticity online. This way, you can demonstrate your level of project management knowledge.

IAPM’s fees: Thinking Globally

The IAPM wants every project manager in the world to be able to afford its certifications. So, they link their certification fees to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the candidate’s country. This ensures a fair pricing system for all (future) project managers of all nations.

Here’s an example:
You would like to become a Cert. Project Manager (IAPM):

  • If you are citizen of the United States of America, the fee would be 650 CHF (approx. 660 USD).
  • If you are citizen of the Republic of India, the fee would be 95 CHF (approx. 97 USD)

To check the fees for your instance, visit the IAPM website for further information.


Additionally, the IAPM offers a 20% discount if you are:

  • At school or university
  • Unemployed and registered with the public employment services
  • An active member of a non-profit organization with an ID/membership card

These exclude Certified Junior Project Manager and Certified Junior Agile Project Manager certification and the associated pre-tests.

PM Guides and more

IAPM tries to offer as many people as possible access to its certifications. So, the preparation is simple and classroom training is not mandatory.

Prospective certification holders can fully prepare themselves for the exams through self-study.

As a basis for the certifications, the IAPM has developed special guidelines. These cover the knowledge requirements that are relevant for each certification exam.

PM Guide 2.0

The PM Guide 2.0 is the basis for the certification to Certified Project Manager (IAPM) and for the associated Junior or Senior certification. It covers basic knowledge in project management, and covers both hard and soft skills. You’ll learn how to organize a project from A to Z and how a good project manager behaves in specific situations.

Agile PM Guide 2.0

The PM Guide covers traditional project management. The Agile PM Guide 2.0 is available for project managers working in an agile context. It covers the two most common forms of agile project management, Scrum and Kanban. It also covers other agile methods like extreme programming.

Project management requirements in an agile environment differ from those in more traditional projects. The guide provides the knowledge necessary for certification in the agile area. It is ideal if you are working on software development projects. The guide supports Certified Junior and Senior Agile Project Manager certifications.

International PM Guide 2.0

The third published guideline is the International PM Guide 2.0. The world is becoming more and more connected. So, project managers need to achieve good performance in an international setting. The languages, cultures and working methods of the different countries can differ. So, project managers need to prepare for their work in an international environment. The International PM Guide 2.0 deals with intercultural problems. It introduces project managers to this topic.

The International PM Guide 2.0 is the basis for the Certified International Project Manager (IAPM).

White Papers

These three guides are ideal for self-study. In addition, you also have the opportunity to get your hands on two white papers. These will be helpful to anyone interested in:

These white papers offer good overviews to extend your professional horizon.

Blog Posts

In project management it is essential to always be up to date. So, IAPM provides the latest news on the subject of project management. Its blog covers interesting articles that are relevant for project work. They also cooperate with other organizations and companies who contribute guest articles. By reaching many readers they contribute to the improvement of project management.

IAPM Membership: How can I Join the IAPM?

Just to clarify: The International Association of Project Managers is a modern association, based on a global network of project managers, with no membership fees. So, there is no formal membership.

But if you want to contribute to the association, you are very welcome to participate in the IAPM’s activities, networks, and professional groups, or join our social media channels. You do not have to be certified by the IAPM.

As long as you promote professional exchange among project managers with a view to improving project management, you are part of the IAPM. Furthermore, you can organize network meetings, be a training partner of the IAPM or apply for a position as a local network official. Simply get in touch with us.

So, don’t hesitate: participate. Even if we are not a traditional membership organization, you can be a part of our network!

How to get in touch with IAPM

There are several ways to get in touch with the IAPM. You can use the contact form on their website to send a specific message. You can also engage with them on social media, and follow their activities.

The IAPM website provides further information about everything you have read above.

Are You an IAPM Member, or are You Thinking about it?

We would love to hear from you about your experiences or questions. Feel free to leave us a comment below.

This Article was Written by Bernd Ottmann and Linda Ottmann

IAPM - Linda Ottmann & Bernd Ottmann
IAPM – Linda Ottmann & Bernd Ottmann

Bernd Ottmann

Bernd found his way into project management by attending a seminar for project management basics in 2012. There he passed both certifications for Certified Project Management Associate (GPM) and Certified Project Manager (IAPM). To expand his expertise in project management, he obtained the Cert. Agile Project Manager (IAPM) certification in 2013.
The IAPM’s concept convinced him and he decided to become active in this organization.

Since then, he has been one of the first Network Officials at Network University. The Network University is a good first step for all students into project management. He has already organized various projects in this environment, e.g. network meetings for students.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in life science engineering at Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and is now specializing in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology by obtaining his Master’s degree. Because of the interdisciplinarity in the field of life sciences and the high project complexity, project management is particularly relevant here.

Linda Ottmann

Linda completed her first certification as Cert. Project Manager (IAPM) in 2013. Since then she has been active at the IAPM, initially as Network Official University. Since 2014 she is also Cert. Agile Project Manager (IAPM).

During her studies in tourism management she was able to gain first project experience, which she could deepen in her internships at an airline and in the event management sector. She has been studying International Management in her Master’s degree since 2018 and, in addition to her Network Official position, is now also responsible for communications and marketing at IAPM as Chief Communications Officer.

As CCO she is the representative of the IAPM and responsible for the IAPM’s public relations. She ensures that the reputation of the IAPM is built and maintained. And, she is the contact person for IAPM Network Officials, IAPM partners, certificate holders, and all interested parties.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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