Certified Project Officer (CPO)

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.

In order to demonstrate your competence as a Project Officer, you are required to evidence the following:

  • Knowledge: Successfully complete and be assessed on 30 hours of project management education
  • Skills: As this is an entry-level project certification, you do not need to demonstrate the application of this knowledge to real-world projects
  • Experience: Similarly, experience working in project environments is not required

As this certification is purely knowledge based, there are no prerequisite entry requirements.

You can be admitted to the Institute of Project Management as a Certified Project Officer by:

  • attending and successfully completing an Institute of Project Management Advanced Recognition and Certification (ARC) workshop, OR
  • passing the OPEN online CPO examination, OR
  • being assessed on 30 hours of project management training by an endorsed / reputable training provider.

Advanced Recognition and Certification (ARC) workshop

The Advanced Recognition and Certification (ARC) workshop is a wholly interactive experience in which participants initiate, plan, deliver and close an actual project.

Over five (5) collaborative days our expert facilitators leverage your latent project experience, connecting a common frame of reference, common purpose and common sense approach to the cohesive delivery and oversight of professional and personal projects.

In contextualising this course for corporate clients, we can also integrate your project assets, templates and tools into the curriculum for a seamless and relevant workplace experience.

Candidates who successfully complete the ARC CPO workshop are admitted to the Institute of Project Management as Certified Project Officers (CPO).

Upon completing the subsequent requirements, candidates may also be assessed at a higher level Certification (CPP / CPM / CPD) within 6 months of completing the workshop at no extra cost.


Virtual CPO

The Institute of Project Management’s virtual classroom is a dynamic, real-time, digital learning environment for cohorts of up to 30 candidates.

Covering 12 online sessions of two hours each, dedicated project teams progress through the key knowledge areas covered in OPEN. In doing so they complete a range of practical activities in the delivery of a fully simulated project.

Upon completion, each successful candidate is automatically admitted to the Institute as a Certified Project Officer (CPO). This also satisfies the knowledge prerequisite for admission to the Institute as a Certified Project Professional (CPP) or Master (CPM).


Attend an Institute of Project Management masterclass and get a headstart on free certification!

All our masterclasses are mapped to specific units in OPEN; for example, our one-day Introduction to Project Management masterclass aligns with Unit 1 Project Frameworks.

Upon successfully meeting the assessment requirements for a masterclass, you will be credited in OPEN with the completion of that unit.

Complete the remaining units online (in the example above, units 2-12) and you will automatically be admitted to the Institute as a Certified Project Officer (CPO), with nothing more to pay!

OPEN online exam

OPEN is a multimedia project management resource hub, available free to all, whether or not you intend applying for Certification.

The 12 online units in OPEN cover all aspects of contemporary project management, including a number of well-known and highly regarded methodologies such as PMBOK, Agile, and PRINCE2.

Successfully completing all the online quizzes that follow each topic will satisfy the knowledge requirements for Certification.

CPO candidates can attempt these online quizzes an unlimited number of times before they formally apply for Certification. This guarantees you never pay to fail!

Order of Merit

The Order of Merit recognises excellence in project management knowledge.

Those Certification holders who attain an overall grade of 100% in the OPEN quizzes will be automatically entered into the Institute of Project Management’s Order of Merit.

Recognition of prior learning

Previous project management studies may be also accepted in lieu of certain course elements.

For example, if you have studied at college or University for greater than 30 hours in a specific project management program, you may attract exemptions or even be automatically eligible for CPO certification.

Eligible PMP preparation courses or ‘boot-camps’ may also grant exemptions or full certification – contact us to learn more.

Institute of Project Management credentials validate contemporary best practices in the discipline of project management. By not slavishly adhering 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.

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

An Institute 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 the Institute of Project Management?

  • 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

Employers today are frustrated with “Paper PMs” – project managers who are certified on the basis of completing a theoretical, methodology-specific quiz.

Such quizzes invariably demand rote memorisation of obscure formulas and highly complex process maps that bear only a passing resemblance to how projects are delivered in the real world.

By contrast, employers prefer and invest in Institute certifications for their staff for a whole range of reasons:

  • Comprehensive assessment of project best practices, as opposed to a single methodological approach
  • Instant, online validation of certification authenticity is available via Linkedin and OPEN
  • The Institute’s certification marks and post-nominals are accredited to explicitly defined and regularly audited international standards
  • Candidates are bound to the Institute’s Code of Ethics for Project Professionals
  • Organisations employing Institute certified candidates immediately observe improved project performance

By taking a 21st century approach to competency-based assessment, the CPO certification is the most durable and cost-effective option for  project team members looking to independently assure their value to their employer.

CPO certification currently costs US$100 when completing the online examination via OPEN.

Recognition of prior project management study for CPO certification also costs US$100.

Virtual CPO costs $550 per person.

The five (5) day ARC workshop costs US$2,500 to attend.

All fees are inclusive of lifetime certification – there is nothing more to pay.

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

Discounts may be also be available when you use a promotional code provided by one of our community partners.

How much does a project manager earn?

That depends on where you work…

In 2017, the median salary for a project manager in Australia was AU$142,800 per year – in the USA, it was US$112,000.

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

Can I use the letters "CPO" after my name?

The Certified Project Officer designation is an official certification mark authorised by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and internationally protected by IP Australia.

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

How do I know someone is a genuine CPO?

You can look-up CPOs via our public directory of Certification holders.

To protect the privacy of all Certification holders, your search must include a full given name, full surname or a complete certificate number. Note, too, that some Certification holders may have opted to hide their details from the directory.

Many awardees also include their Certification on their LinkedIn profile. In that instance, a unique hyperlink is provided for verification purposes.

Do I have to complete CPO before CPP or CPM?

The knowledge standards for CPO are the same for CPP and CPM – an examination of 30 hours of project management education.

If you have the requisite experience and skills, you should consider skipping CPO and going straight to the higher-level Certification.

Not only will you save yourself the CPO assessment fee; you will be retrospectively awarded CPO upon being admitted to the Institute as a CPP or CPM.

How long does it take to become Certified once I submit my application?

If you have completed OPEN, CPO certification occurs instantly upon receipt of your application and payment.

CPO certification following an ARC workshop occurs with one business day of workshop completion.

CPO certification based upon recognition of your previous project management studies can take up to one week, as it depends upon verification of your status with your course provider.

What if I apply and pay for Certification, but fail?

Candidates who are completing OPEN cannot apply and pay for Certification until they have successfully met the requirements; therefore it is impossible to ‘fail’ as the prerequisites for admission have already been met once payment is requested.

Candidates who miss an ARC workshop session or fail to meet an assessment standard on the day can complete the relevant sections of OPEN in their own time at no extra cost – your assessor will show you how to do this.

Candidates who submit incomplete or ineligible applications for recognition of prior learning may either resubmit or complete OPEN in their own time at no extra cost – you will not be charged twice.

What is lifetime Certification?

Lifetime Certification means you do not need to pay an annual membership or subscription fee to maintain your Certification – it also means you never need to re-sit or retake an examination at this level.

Certified Project Officers are encouraged to continue their professional development through practice and be progressively assessed at higher levels as they develop the requisite skills and experience.

Will you endorse my project management skill on LinkedIn?

Certified Project Officers who successfully complete the ARC workshop are encouraged to connect with their trainer(s) on LinkedIn.

At your request, they will endorse your project management skill on your profile.

How can I become a Certified Project Trainer?

Our Certified Project Trainers are highly experienced project leaders (CPM or CPD) with a minimum of ten (10) years’ proven project leadership and appropriate teaching and mentoring experience.

If this is you – especially if you speak a second language – we would love to hear from you!