Continuing education is an important element for succeeding in any career. Working in logistics and supply chain management is no different. Honing your skills and keeping them sharp as new trends and technologies emerge will keep you at the top of your field.

Going the extra mile and pursuing a certification in supply chain management can give your career even more momentum. Adding a designation to your resume demonstrates a long-term commitment to your field, which can make you more marketable to a potential employer. Additionally, a well-respected certification can offer greater opportunities for promotions and salary bumps at your current job. Finally, continuing education offers its own rewards, by helping you keep your interest in your field fresh and keeping you on the cutting edge of what’s new.

In this article, we’ll run you through five popular certifications in supply chain management that will help you hone your skills, stand out in your field, and continue to keep your career moving forward.

#1: Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)

The APICS CPIM designation is offered by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ACSM). The certificate program was originally developed by the American Production and Inventory Control Society, which became part of ACSM, hence the designation’s name.

The CPIM program teaches its students how to master principles of production and inventory control, while improving internal operations. As opposed to some of the other certificates offered in the industry, the CPIM designation focuses primarily on internal challenges a company may face, including materials management, scheduling, forecasting, and planning.

As they earn their CPIM, students will gain a solid understanding of the following five areas:

  • Basics of supply chain management
  • Strategic management of resources
  • Master planning of resources
  • Detailed scheduling and planning
  • Execution and control of operations

Prerequisites: There are no experience or degree requirements for earning your CPIM, so it’s a great designation to pursue if you’re new to logistics and supply chain management.

Maintenance: In order to maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete 75 professional development points, as defined by ACSM, every five years.

Finally, if you’ve been debating with yourself as to whether these designations are worth the time and investment, consider these stats from ACSM as you evaluate the ROI on this certification:

  • On average, designees see a 25% increase in their salary
  • A CPIM designation can improve your hiring potential by 65%

#2: The Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

This designation from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) is designed to teach its students how to apply supply management principles in the real world across various industries. By earning your CPSM, you’ll get a deep understanding of end-to-end supply management.

As you dive into the designation, you’ll study challenges and opportunities across the following disciplines:

  • Sourcing
  • Category management
  • Negotiation
  • Legal and contractual
  • Supplier relationship management
  • Cost and price management
  • Financial analysis
  • Supply chain strategy
  • Sales and operations planning
  • Quality management
  • Logistics and material management
  • Project management
  • Leadership and business acumen
  • Systems capability and technology
  • Risk and compliance
  • Corporate social responsibility

Prerequisites: Unlike the CPIM, to pursue your CPSM, you’ll need to fulfill one of these two requirements set forth by the ISM:

  • Three years of full-time, professional supply management experience (nonclerical and nonsupport) with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or international equivalent, or
  • Five years of full-time, professional supply management experience (nonclerical and nonsupport) without a qualified bachelor’s degree.

Maintenance: To maintain your CPSM designation, you’ll need to do 60 hours of approved continuing education every three years.

That being said, the numbers tell the story when it comes to the value of the CPSM designation:

  • ISM estimates that more than 60,000 professionals have earned their CPSM.
  • Additionally, professionals with an ISM certification earn 10.7% more on average than those without.

#3: Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

Designed for more experienced supply chain professionals than its CPIM designation, APICS’ Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) program focuses on teaching its students to manage an end-to-end global supply chain. Designees will develop the skills they need to effectively coordinate suppliers, plants, distributors and customers located anywhere in the world. In other words, whereas the APICS CPIM focuses on internal business issues, the CSCP designation sets its sights on external issues.

Topics covered in the three modules of this program include:

  • Supply chain strategy and design
  • Supply chain planning and execution, including procurement and managing reverse logistics
  • Supply chain improvement and best practices, including analytics and sustainable best practices

Prerequisites: Candidates must have at least one of the following in order to pursue their CSCP:

  • Three years’ related business experience,
  • A bachelor’s degree or equivalent level of study or
  • CPIM or one of several other industry designations.

Maintenance: As with the CPIM designation, in order to maintain your CSCP certification, you’ll need to complete 75 professional development points, as defined by ACSM, every five years.

Finally, if you’re interested in the APICS programs, but you’re not sure which one is right for you, check out this resource to help you choose the right APICS program.

#4: SCPro™ Certification

SCPro™ Certification from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) is a three-tiered program that teaches its students to optimize supply chains through examining real-world case studies. As they progress through each phase of the program, professionals will discover the eight learning blocks of the end-to-end supply chain and how to optimize each one.

The three levels of the SCPro program include:

  • Level One: Cornerstones of Supply Chain Management
  • Level Two: Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges
  • Level Three: Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation

Prerequisites: Each level of the SCPro program comes with its own set of eligibility requirements. Check out the CSCMP website for full details.

Maintenance: To maintain their certificates, students must earn 25 continuing education credits every two years.

#5: Six Sigma

Unlike the other designations we’ve mentioned, Six Sigma certifications aren’t tied to a specific organization. Instead, Six Sigma is a framework that allows companies to improve the capability of their business processes, including their supply chain. This is especially true when Six Sigma is paired with Lean principles designed to reduce waste and improve performance. DHL, Ryder, 3M, GE and Xerox are among the long list of companies who have used Six Sigma to optimize their operations.

Those who study Six Sigma work through a ranking system similar to one found in martial arts:

  • White belts have no formal Six Sigma training. However, they may be familiar with its concepts, which can assist them if they have a role to play in actualizing their company’s goals.
  • Yellow belts go through several days of training in order to learn the foundational tools of Six Sigma. While they may not be ready to lead projects on their own, they’re well equipped to assist on projects.
  • Green belts are trained and ready to act as project managers, after completing a full course in Six Sigma principles.
  • Black belts have completed at least 90 hours of training in preparation to drive organization-wide changes.
  • Master black belts have achieved a level of proficiency that allows them to become mentors and coaches for other professionals pursuing and implementing Six Sigma principles.

Prerequisites: Although you can technically start directly by earning your yellow, green, or black belt, your level of education and experience will dictate which belt will be best to start with. That being said, if you’re interested in a master black belt, Six Sigma requires a black belt from either Six Sigma or another approved organization before you can start your studies.

Maintenance: The requirements for keeping up your certification differs depending on which organization you use to pursue your certification. Each has different requirements for keeping current. If you’re interested in pursuing a Six Sigma certification, some of the most popular certifying bodies include:

  • The American Society for Quality (ASQ)
  • The International Association for Six Sigma Certification (IASSC)
  • Several universities include Purdue University and the University of Michigan, among others

Keep Your Career Moving Forward with Continuing Education

One of the most exciting parts of a career in logistics and supply chain management is its fast pace. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities, as well as new tools to help improve tracking, analysis, forecasting, and more. By pursuing one of these supply chain certifications—and staying current with the necessary continuing education hours—you’ll stay on top of all the exciting new developments in the field, and you’ll find yourself well equipped to leverage these insights to keep your own supply chains running at their peak.

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