Purchasing management. Sourcing management. Materials and vendor management. Supply chain management. No matter what you call the discipline, the role of the procurement manager is vital to every single department in an enterprise.
Procurement is one of the most rewarding careers for aspiring professionals, coming in at number eight on monster.com’s list of top 10 careers ranked by job satisfaction. To help you start or make the most of a career in procurement, we’ll look at the benefits of procurement certification and the five best procurement certification courses you should be considering.
What are the benefits of procurement certifications?
In the profession of procurement and supply chain management, a certification from a renowned authority gives you the added advantage of being preferred by employers over your non-certified peers. Whether you’re just starting out on your career or are looking to move on to your next job, the advantages and benefits of having a certification in procurement include:
- Upgraded knowledge about industry best practices
- The opportunity to qualify for an international job role
- Recognition among employers and industry peers
- Ability to network in your professional arena
- 3% to 13% higher salaries than non-certified peers
That said, there are a wide array of procurement certifications out there today. We have curated the five best procurement certifications in this article.
Note: All of the certifications have online guides and self-study modules for professionals. They are priced separately depending on the certification levels.
1. Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Diploma (CIPS)
Based out of the United Kingdom, CIPS is the world’s largest professional association in procurement and supply. The institute has a global network of more than 200,000 professionals with members in more than 150 countries, and its certifications are recognized by several industry bodies and regulatory authorities.
The CIPS certifications
CIPS certifications cover six candidacy tracks, ranging from the entry-level student track to the advanced professional track. After enrollment, students are required to download study guides and prepare for each exam, progressing to the next diploma level until they finally graduate to a full-time Member of the CIPS (MCIPS). Professionals also have the option of further upgrading their qualifications to a Fellow of the CIPS (FCIPS).
The certifications are classified as follows:
- Level 1: Student Member (Entry Point)
- Level 2: Certification in Procurement and Supply Operations
- Level 3: Advanced Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations
- Level 4: Diploma in Procurement and Supply
- Level 5: Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply
- Level 6: Professional Diploma in Procurement and Supply
Completion of Level 6 leads to the MCIPS license.
Pricing for each of the study material and exam vary and can be found here, where you’ll need to fill out a form to view the pricing in your region.
2. Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM)
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) is based out of the USA and is renowned for its research in procurement and its Purchasing Managers Index (which was developed with the US Department of Commerce). It has successfully trained over 60,000 professionals across 30 countries since 2008, and has been in existence for more than a century.
The CPSM certification
ISM offers two certifications, and the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) is the one concerned with core procurement functions. The CPSM is a globally recognized certification for supply chain professionals who have at least three years full-time supply management experience in a non-clerical or support role with a bachelor’s degree, or five years without a degree.
The CPSM is a single certification, which includes a comprehensive coverage of all procurement and supply chain-related functions. The three main assessments for the CPSM certification include:
- Supply Chain Management Core
- Supply Chain Management Integration
- Leadership and Transformation in Supply Chain Management
Pricing for the CPSM depends on whether or not you are a member of the ISM. The exam fees are $229 for ISM members and $379 for non-members. Study material costs $795 for ISM members and $1,195 for non-ISM members and is available in both print and digital versions.
3. Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) from the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM)
The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM, formerly APICS) is based in the United States and is a 62-year-old organization, originally formed by a group of 20 production control managers. Today, the organization has grown to more than 45,000 members and 300 channel partners in more than 100 countries. It offers several certifications, but we’ll be focusing on one in particular.
The CSCP certification
The Certified Supply Chain Professional certification (CSCP) from ASCM is a single certification that also offers both self-paced and instructor-guided learning tracks. Aspirants need three years of related work experience or an internationally recognized bachelor's degree to qualify.
The curriculum comprises three main modules of assessment. These are:
- Supply Chain Design
- Supply Chain Planning and Execution
- Supply Chain Improvements and Best Practices
The pricing for the CSCP examination, which includes certification, depends on ASCM membership status: ASCM PLUS members pay $695, while CORE members pay the same as non-members, $965. Exams can also be retaken for a fee of $450.
4. Certified Supply Chain Manager (CSCM) from the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA)
The International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA) is based in the United States and has a worldwide network of members, holding supply chain management positions in more than 200 companies across the world. It conducts several workshops worldwide on a regular basis and offers a wide range of professional certifications in procurement and supply, including the Certified Supply Chain Manager certification (CSCM). It also confers the Ptak Prize for Supply Chain Excellence.
The CSCM certification
The CSCM certification covers a wide array of subjects within the supply chain discipline. The certification process includes a workshop and examination that are held in several countries. Participants also have the option to join the workshops and take the exams online, which are proctored. Course coverage includes:
- Supply Chain Body of Knowledge
- Theory of Constraints
- Operational Accounting
- Lean Six Sigma
- Leadership and Team Building
5. SCPro Certification from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)
Established in 1963, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) is based in the United States and comprises a network of more than 6,000 supply chain professionals. The CSCMP also has several committees and roundtables for networking and knowledge sharing among its members. The CSCMP offers the SCPro certification, and certified members can get the benefits of continuous learning via organized events and publications.
The SCPro certification
The SCPro certification comprises three tiers, based on knowledge areas of procurement and supply chain management. These are:
- SCPro Level 1: Cornerstones of Supply Chain Management
- SCPro Level 2: Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges
- SCPro Level 3: Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation
The three levels are divided by the nature of each exam. The first level is an assessment of the candidate's knowledge of the eight pillars of supply chain management according to the CSCMP curriculum. Level 2 is a case study-based exam, while the third level comprises a “real-world" project to demonstrate the capability of the applicant to impact an organization or employer in real-life scenarios.
Pricing for the SCPro Certification depends on whether or not the applicant is a member of the CSCMP. For SCPro Level 1, the exam fee is $975 for non-members and $650 for members. For SCPro Level 2, the pricing is $1,500 for members and $1,095 for non-members. SCPro Level 3 is not limited to a single project and candidates are paired with a mentor.
The third level of the SCPro certification requires a bachelor's degree with nine years of relevant work experience, while the second level requires a level one certification with a college degree and three years of work experience. The first level is an entry level assessment of several knowledge branches in procurement and supply chain management.
While you're earning your spurs in the professional credential arena and building your network among your procurement professional peers as a certified professional, don't forget the importance of technology in supply chain management today. Check out Capterra's Supply Chain Management Software directory for choosing the right software to complement your professional prowess!
The certifications mentioned above were selected based on their emphasis on core procurement and supply chain functions, and their applications in real-world scenarios. The strength of the professional network of the certification body was also considered. The core functions considered were: procurement, strategic sourcing, inventory management, transportation, integrated SCM, technology and operational accounting.