I’ll kick this entry off by apologizing for the throwback reference to the 1991 pure-gold Naughty by Nature hit. It was a temptation I just couldn’t resist. I promise this will pertain to purchasing certifications and not 90’s gangster rap. If you’re a purchasing manager, you may have wondered if a certification will add value to your skill set and increase your marketability. If you are considering obtaining a certification, the question then becomes, “Which of the myriad certification options is right for you.” After reading this, you should get a better idea of which certification you’re “Down wit”.

SPSM® is the abbreviation for Senior Professional in Supply Management. This certification comes from our friends over at Next Level Purchasing. This program, founded by Charles Dominick, is rapidly becoming one of the most recognized certifications in the procurement world. 44 credits of continuing education courses must be completed through personal interactive online courses, as well as a final exam. Next Level has certified over 2,800 procurement professionals in 60+ countries.

This particular certification acronym stands for Certified Purchasing Manager. Getting this cert means that you are on the cutting edge of procurement management…if the year was 2007. Unfortunately for any CPM’s out there, your certification is out of date. In 2008, the Institute for Supply Chain Management replaced this credential with the CPSM (Certified Professional in Supply Management). This updated cert is designed to encompass the increased scope of duties purchasing managers are now involved with. The ISCM is probably one of the more visible, well-known accrediting bodies.

All of the above certifications are issued by the American Purchasing Society. The Certified Purchasing Professional credential is designed for “professionals who have demonstrated the skills to successfully implement improved purchasing and supply chain practices as part of a business solution in an organization”

If you’re still green in purchasing, but have demonstrated some success, this cert would be right for you. The Certified Professional Purchasing Manager certificate is designed for anyone in a managerial position. It basically stamps a label on a general manager that they have formal training when it comes to the procurement function. The Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant moniker caters to CPP’s “who either consult or teach purchasing to people outside of their own employer.” Here’s lookin’ at you, all you quality third party sourcing consultants out there.

The Certified Supply Chain Professional cert comes from the Association for Operations Management. The AOP claims to differentiate their certification from others by bringing “your company's entire value chain into perspective.” The idea with this cert is to learn how to look at the purchasing function relative to the rest of an organization’s value chain.

Both the Certified Professional Public Buyer and the Certified Public Purchasing Officer credentials are both intended for purchasing professionals in the public arena. If you’re working for “the man”, chances are this is the certification for you.

If you’re head is spinning with C’s and P’s right about now, we have something in common. The answer really depends on what industry you’re in, and what certs your organization values most. Ask your boss. Bring it to HR. Research your industry. Whichever you choose it is important to pick a credential that will do more for you then hang on the wall. Make sure whatever certification program you choose has tangible, applicable content that will actually improve your purchasing abilities.
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  1. ISM's C.P.M. is hardly out of date. ISM continues to recertify C.P.M.s and, according to ISM's own 2014 salary survey, C.P.M.s still enjoy higher average salaries than CPSMs.

  2. The Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) designation does seem to have a lot of staying power. Whenever I look through procurement job postings, I still see it as either a required or preferred credential in most listings.

  3. CPSM seems to be a worthwhile upgrade, the "new" CSCP from APICS is a full-fledged effort to generate income after the failure of their "old-new" CIRM" that totally tanked and was refused by both members and the general professional community.
    My best advice to search the job boards using C.P.M., CPIM....etc., I think you will find that CSCP does not (yet) give many results. Stick with what potential employers know....it seems as though CSCP has not yet (and may never) catch on..

  4. It will be interesting to see how things go with APICs now that they've merged with the Supply Chain Council (SCC) and added the SCC's SCOR-P certification to the certification portfolio. It appears from reading various forums over the years that most, if not all, of the purchasing, procurement, supply (chain) management professional organizations have managed to alienate their traditional and core membership while chasing an ever changing definition of the field and the profession. They are not alone either. The Institute for Management Accountants launched the Certified Financial Manager (CFM) designation to augment their highly-regarded Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation. It was not embraced by the membership or the business community. What saved them was that they never eliminated the CMA in the process. The better path for most of these organizations is to have a single designation and adjust the content as necessary. ISM did that successfully with the C.P.M. for a number of years. The content of the CPSM is absolutely valid but ISM might have had much greater success by simply changing the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) to Certified in Procurement Management (C.P.M.) using the newer CPSM content. Certified Purchasing Managers would have been grandfathered in and the already mandated continuing education would have been used to bring them current.

  5. ISM has just released its 2015 Salary Survey results. The difference in average base salary for the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) is statistically insignificant with the CPSM at $109,846 and the C.P.M. at $109,085. The average bonus for the C.P.M. is higher at $25,614 versus $19,981 for the CPSM. ISM’s Accredited Purchasing Practitioner (A.P.P.) is not too far behind at a $104,309 average base salary and $26,377 average bonus. A little arithmetic provides the average compensation for each: C.P.M. $134,699, A.P.P. $130,686 and CPSM $129,827. All very healthy averages. A visit to ISM’s website indicates that they issued or renewed numerous C.P.M.s and A.P.P.s in the last 30 days. The website visit also revealed something else quite interesting. Only one member of the senior management team holds the CPSM, or any post nominal supply chain credential for that matter, and only two members of the ISM board of directors hold the CPSM. According to the bio on the ISM website, ISM’s CEO appears to hold no supply chain certifications.

  6. Here's what a recently posted Chief Procurement Officer position in higher education is looking for:

    An advanced degree in public administration, business administration or other applicable area of study is preferred. Certification from an accredited procurement program such as Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM), Certified Professional Procurement Officer (CPPO), Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM), National Contract Management Association (NCMA), Certified Associate Contracts Manager (CACM) or similar Federal government certification is preferred.

  7. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) continues to recertify holders of the Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) designation and will do so indefinitely. The C.P.M. remains relevant as evidenced by its continued appearance as a required or preferred qualification in numerous job postings. It commands compensation on par with the ISM's newer Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) designation. The C.P.M. may be a legacy designation but it was built to last and it has.

    1. Anyone knows which procurement certification will quickly land me a job? I've been out of the workforce for 8 years now! Raising my children and returning to school took me some time...I have a Masters degree in Healthcare Administration as of Dec 2013 and worked in the past as a procurement officer for the government of Rwanda (2005-2007). I'm having a hard time landing a job, at any level due to the big gap in my work history

  8. Unfortunately, I don't think any professional certification, in and of itself, will quickly land you a job. Any decent program will take some time. Certainly the CPSM is top drawer, particularly for those with a procurement orientation. You may want to focus on procurement positions in healthcare given that your Masters is in Healthcare Administration. Procurement is a little discussed but critical aspect of healthcare administration. Best of luck on your search.

  9. ISM 2016 Salary Survey summary just released:

    C.P.M. $117,648

    CPSM $111,661

  10. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) 2017 Salary Survey says:

    Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) $124,138

    Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) $118,300

  11. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) 2018 Salary Survey says:

    Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) $124,538

    Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) $125,158

    Statistically insignificant. It's likely that older, higher paid professionals with the C.P.M. are beginning to retire while younger professionals with the CPSM are rising in the ranks to replace them.