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.

How do I get certified?

A CPO is ultimately assessed against the knowledge, processes and techniques necessary to systematically and successfully manage the entire life of a project, including:

  • the initiation stage: the decision-making process that leads to the authorisation of the project
  • the planning stage: the development of project processes assets (such as the schedule and budget), and the definition of the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders
  • the delivery stage: the execution of the project plan, including the management of risks, opportunities and change, and
  • the closing stage: the handover of the project deliverable to the client, and capture of lessons learned for individuals and the performing organisation.

As the CPO 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 CPO training event, OR
  • passing the OPEN online CPO examination, OR
  • being assessed on 30 hours of project management training by a reputable / endorsed training provider.

The five (5) day CPO workshop is wholly interactive, and our semi-structured approach to learning dynamically leverages the unique experiences, needs and operating environments of participants.

Our Certified Project Trainers disrupt the chalk-to-board / death-by-PowerPoint orthodoxy of classroom learning to expertly facilitate a peer-to-peer networked learning event.

Participants are encouraged to share complex, ‘real life’ examples from their professional experience that can be resolved using the best-practice principles of project management.

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 program.

Over five days, the collaborative workshop does not so much create over-achieving project managers; rather, it introduces a common frame of reference, common purpose and common sense approach to the cohesive delivery and oversight of professional and personal projects.

OPEN is a multimedia project management resource hub, exclusively available to Institute of Project Management students. Click here for a sneak peek…

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.

The quizzes that follow each topic closely mirror the multiple-choice questions you will find in the CPO exam.

CPO candidates can attempt these online quizzes an unlimited number of times, as well as a timed practice exam. This will ensure you are optimally primed to succeed!


The three (3) hour CPO certification examination assesses candidates’ ability to integrate and apply their project management knowledge to a number of theoretical and real world scenarios.

Conducted online, the exam consists of 100 quiz questions that closely mirror the OPEN topic quizzes, along with a previously unsighted case study (20 additional questions).

The passing grade for the exam is 70%.

Those exceptional students who attain an overall grade of 90% or greater will be entered into the Institute of Project Management’s Order of Merit.

The Order of Merit recognises excellence in project management knowledge and is only available to students who complete the Institute’s online examination.

Those exceptional students who attain an overall grade of 90% or greater will be entered into the Institute of Project Management’s Order of Merit.

Candidates who who are admitted via other pathways (through workshop attendance or alternative assessment) remain eligible at any time to complete the examination for Order of Merit consideration.

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.

What are the benefits of Institute certification?

Institute of Project Management 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.

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

Why do employers prefer our certifications?

The CPO certification is the most rigorous knowledge-based certification 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 project team members looking to independently assure their value to current and potential employers.

These are some of the reasons why employers are looking for Institute 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
  • The Institute 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 Linkedin
  • 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

How does CPO compare to other certifications?

Frequently asked questions

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).

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!

CPO certification currently costs US$250 when completing the online examination via OPEN.

Recognition of prior project management study for CPO certification also costs US$250.

The five (5) day CPO workshop costs US$2,950 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 global partners.

Our Certified Project Trainers are highly experienced project leaders with a minimum of ten (10) years’ practical experience, a Masters of Business Administration (or equivalent degree), and appropriate teaching experience.

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