Growth Trends for Related Jobs

CPM & CPIM Certification

careertrend article image
manager image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

Purchasing and inventory managers should obtain professional certification in their respective fields to gain recognition and boost their careers. Professionals in inventory management might consider certification in production and inventory management (CPIM). Purchasing managers used to turn to a certified purchasing manager (CPM) program for professional certification, but that CPM certification is no longer available for testing, and is now only available for recertification. Purchasing managers now might pursue certification for professionals in supply management (CPSM), instead.

CPIM Certification

Inventory management certification options include CPIM certification, which is available through APICS, the association for supply chain management. The association has distributed CPIM certification to more than 112,000 professionals since 1973, and the certification has become the professional standard in production and inventory management. Professionals who obtain their CPIM certification see an increase in earning and hiring potential, and tend to work more efficiently for their organizations, making them more valuable employees.

CPIM candidates must pass two exams within three years to earn their certification. They must also maintain CPIM designation every five years. These professionals can prepare to sit for their exams either through self-study materials, provided by APICS, or in classroom courses led by APICS-recognized instructors.

Exam candidates take their tests via computer-based testing at Pearson VUE test centers at locations around the world. The two CPIM exams contain five modules, each of which reflects critical topics in inventory and production management:

Part one of the CPIM exam (3.5 hours) comprises:

  • Module one: basics of supply chain management.
  • 130 operational questions, plus 20 pretest questions.
  • Exam fee of $495 to $690.
  • Retake fee of $250.

Part two (also 3.5 hours) comprises:

  • Module one (25 percent of score): Strategic management of resources.
  • Module two (25 percent of score): Master planning of resources.
  • Module three (25 percent of score): Detailed scheduling and planning.
  • Module four (25 percent of score): Execution and control of operations.
  • 130 operational questions, plus 20 pretest questions.
  • Exam fee of $495 to $690.
  • Retake fee of $250.

CPSM Certification

Professionals aiming to obtain their CPSM certification may do so through the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The CPSM designation boasts global recognition as the standard supply management credential, denoting professionals with a mastery of critical concepts in contracts, leadership, negotiating, and procurement and sourcing. CPSM-certified professionals tend to earn more than their noncertified peers, as well.

To obtain CPSM certification, candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited program or university. They must also have completed three years of full-time experience in professional supply management, for which clerical and nonsupport positions don't qualify. Candidates without their bachelor's may compensate with five years of full-time supply management experience.

CPSM exams test candidates in the following competency areas:

  • Sourcing.
  • Category management.
  • Negotiation.
  • Legal and contractual.
  • Supplier relationship management.
  • Cost and price management.
  • Financial analysis.
  • Supply chain strategy.
  • Sales and operations planning - demand planning.
  • Sales and operations planning - forecasting.
  • Sales and operations planning - product and service development.
  • Quality management.
  • Logistics and materials management.
  • Project management.

Once candidates pass all three exams, they must submit a certification application and pay any applicable fees. Exam scores remain valid for four years.


Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.