My father almost named me Walter Marder, Jr., but his beneficent coworkers decided it was a horrible name and talked him down. That’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to having meaningful letters to list after my name, and, unless you’re an heir, you’re not going to get a lot of value out of a Jr. in your title.
On the other hand, having a CSCP, CPSM, or CPP on your business card could lead to all sorts of opportunities and salary adjustments. Those are the sorts of letters that come from certifications in procurement and supply chain management.
In addition to the remuneration benefits, you’ll also get a chance to learn something new about how your field works, making your business a stronger, more efficient machine.
According to the Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA), procurement specialists who get the association’s SPSM – we’ll talk about it a little later – earn about $20,000 more per year. The businesses those employees work for find close to $500,000 in additional cost savings, as well.
If you were looking for a procurement certification business case, just print that paragraph out and nail it to your boss’s door. Or email them, whatever’s best for you, really. Today, we’ll look at five certifications to help move you to the next step of your career.
CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional)
APICS (the American Production and Inventory Control Society) offers a wide range of courses for supply chain management, but the CSCP is probably the best fit for procurement specialists.
To get the certification, you’ll need to do some self-directed study or attend a few courses and then you’ll take the CSCP exam. To be eligible for the process, you’ll have to have three years of experience or a bachelor’s degree in a related field or have one of a series of other certifications.
The exam and certification focus on three main topics – supply chain design, supply chain planning and execution, and supply chain improvement and best practices. This design takes students through the whole process, from initial design to efficiency management.
APICS also offers the CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management), which is an incredibly popular choice for warehouse professionals but focuses less on supply chain and more on managing inventory in production or once it has arrived at the warehouse.
The CSCP costs $915 in North America for non-APICS-members, but expect to spend that much again – or possibly more, depending on your background – in training material.
CPSM (Certified Professional in Supply Management)
ISM’s (the Institute for Supply Management) CPSM requires three exams and is structured slightly differently than the CSCP. Instead of running through supply chain management from inception to refinement, the exams focus on basics, advanced execution, and leadership.
The requirements to sit the exams are slightly more rigorous, as well. You’ll need three years of experience plus a bachelor’s degree or five years of experience without the degree.
The first exam will ensure that you have the basics down. In reality, a simple supply chain could easily be managed and refined with just the content in this exam. The second exam, covering Effective Supply Management, dives into new product development, project management, and more advanced operations.
The final exam covers leadership in the supply chain management industry, touching on building a team, hiring and managing employees, and working within an organization to get buy-in and support. I like the division of the CPSM a lot, as it’s very closely aligned to how a supply chain management career is likely to unfold.
Each exam is $329 for nonmembers, for a total of $987.
The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) offers a certification that spans three levels – four if you count the Fundamental Certification.
The SCPro Level One certification is similar to the first exam in the CPSM, covering the basics of any good supply chain. As with both the CPSM and the CSCP, education, and focus for the SCPro is broad. Procurement specialists are going to get a lot out of the certification, but there’s also going to be a lot of semi-relevant material as well.
Level Two certification is where procurement shines, with a focus on supply chain strategy, finance, and network design. At Level Three, you skip examination and instead perform a live fire project, presenting your process and findings to a panel at the project’s conclusion.
To sit level one, you’ll need a bachelor’s or four years of experience. For level two, you’ll need a level one certification and a bachelor’s with three years of experience or a level one certification and seven total years of experience. For the final round, you’ll need to defeat the dark beast that dwells within your own heart. Nah, I’m just kidding – you’ll just need to tack two more years of experience on to the level two requirements.
Costs vary by level, starting at $975 for nonmembers at level one and moving to $1,500 for level two. Level three just requires your participation.
CPP (Certified Procurement Professional)
Now we’re diving into the real procurement specializations. The International Institute for Procurement and Market Research (IIPMR) offers the CPP just for procurement professionals.
The IIPMR says that the CPP is “mainly for individuals who are already working in Supply Chain or Procurement Field at a Senior or Team leader level and helps them advance their career growth to a Managerial level.” Major corporations agree as IIPMR certifications can be found all across the Fortune 500.
The program takes about six months to complete and covers about 180 topics. You’ll dive into everything from business continuity to green supply chain management to Kanban project management. It’s a lot of knowledge and it’s sharply focused on procurement.
The course cost $700 and requires some schooling along with three years of experience.
SPSM (Senior Professional in Supply Management)
The final certification we’ll cover is the SPSM from the NLPA. This certification requires you to progress through six online courses and then pass an exam at the end of your studies. The program covers purchasing fundamentals, contract writing, and cost management, among other topics.
Unlike the other certifications listed here, the SPSM doesn’t require you to have any educational or professional experience. Anyone can sit down and take the classes and the exam, assuming you can pony up the cash.
The courses and exam cost about $1,150 and you’ll have a year to complete everything. The whole system is self-paced, but the NLPA estimates that you could finish the whole thing in six months if you just spent two hours a week on it.
Final thoughts on procurement certification
While having an SPSM or CPP after your name might not change the way you fill out passport forms, they’re a little more applicable to daily life than a Jr. Any one of these courses and certifications would be a great step toward the next part of your career, but your circumstances will dictate which one is the best fit.
If you have any other recommendations or you’ve already earned one of these certifications, drop me a line in the comments. Also, swing on by Capterra’s supply chain management software directory, if your business is in the market for a new bit of kit.
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