The value of your supply chain management certification is determined by two factors. Factor one: The kind of job you have – or want. Factor two: The certification itself. When the APICS first started issuing certifications in the 1970s, there was a dearth of higher education options for SCM.
Now, you can get an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and certification in many of the subfields of supply chain management. While APICS says that a certification will likely give you a career boost, that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone.
Aside from the APICS-branded certifications, there are also university certifications to consider, alongside some of the more traditional educational options.
APICS Supply Chain Management certifications
The APICS offers three main certifications – the CPIM (for production and inventory management), the CSCP (for supply chain professionals), and the CLTD (for logistics, transportation, and distribution).
Unsurprisingly, the certification you should chase depends on the kind of work you want to do. If you’re working in an industrial manufacturing roll, for instance, there’s probably more value in the CPIM than in the CLTD.
Before you can start any of the tracks, you’ll have to meet the eligibility requirements laid down by APICS. In short, you’ll need three years of work experience, a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or an existing certification.
Once you have that, you’ll be able to take the required exam, and then you’re onto the sweet, sweet cash.
These certifications have two main benefits. First, they give you some relevant knowledge and keep you up-to-date on the industry. You may have gotten your degree years ago, or maybe you’ve just moved into a management job that has taken you further from the day-to-day operation. Either way, it’s nice to dip your toe into the educational pool from time to time.
Second, a certification – and this is true across industries and jobs – tells employers that you care. You care enough to spend the time and money, to put the work in, and to jump through all the paperwork hoops. You are, in one way or another, dedicated to the business.
As I said earlier, APICS says that people with certification earn more money. A presentation last year, for instance, claimed that employees with a CSCP earned between 9 and 14 percent more than their peers. Your milage will vary.
APICS doesn’t have a monopoly on certifications. The ISM (Institute for Supply Management) also offers some options. The CPSM (for supply chain professionals) and CPSD (for supply chain diversification) are both issued by the ISM.
The CPSM is the more general of the two and is comparable to some of the APICS offerings, so we’ll focus on that.
The CPSM has a slightly longer eligibility requirement, in that you must have three years of professional experience and a degree. You can also get in with five years of experience and no degree. A study run by the ISM in 2014 found that CPSM holders earned 7 percent more than their noncertified counterparts.
Interestingly, that same study found that, for all certified respondents (with any sort of ISM or non-ISM certification), the average salary was slightly higher than for those with just the ISM certification.
Many universities are now offering certifications, as well. While these won’t have the universal brand appeal of an APICS or ISM certificate, they come with the backing of a popular university brand instead.
As an example, Penn State’s Certificate in Supply Chain Management can give you some of the same technical background as you’ll find with the bigger certificates. These certificates are run more like traditional educational programs, requiring credit hours and classes.
Penn State’s program can also propel you into the university’s Master of Professional Studies in Supply Chain Management program. It’s described as a certificate designed for “working logistics professionals who want to gain the knowledge and skills.”
What kind of certification you hunt down depends on your experience and job. For young professionals, the APICS options can offer a entry point without any on-the-job experience. If you’ve been around for awhile, ISM is probably the right choice. If you’re thinking of going back for your bachelors or masters or switching careers, there’s probably a higher ed option suited to your needs.
Our friends over at Software Advice interviewed some SCM professionals a few years back and got their insights on the available certificates. If you want more information, I’d suggest checking that piece out.