Procurement professionals, sometimes referred to as purchasing or supply chain professionals, are responsible for procuring supplies and managing the supply chain. They work with suppliers to prepare contracts; analyze supplier options based on cost, delivery speed, and quality; and prepare financial reports for top-level management. A number of organizations offer certification to recognize skilled and knowledgeable procurement professionals. These certifications can improve your earning potential and marketability to employers.
Most certification programs require that you work in procurement or purchasing for a specified period of time, have completed a degree program or possess varying combinations of education and experience. For example, the American Purchasing Society requires three years of related experience or two years of experience if you have a regionally accredited degree, while the Institute for Supply Management requires either five years of related experience or three years of related experience and an undergraduate degree. The exception to this rule is Senior Professional in Supply Management certification through Next Level Purchasing, which has no experience or education requirements.
All certifying bodies require that you pass an exam covering topics relevant to procurement professionals, such as negotiating and writing contracts, leadership, ethics, and industry laws and regulation. Exams take place either online or in a proctored environment at computer-based testing centers. A number of certifying bodies require that you meet ethical standards and agree to a professional code of ethics. For example, the American Purchasing Society requires you to answer questions about criminal record, financial responsibility and bankruptcy history and asks you to submit personal and professional references. A few certifications, such as those administered by the APS and Next Level Purchasing, require you to complete self-paced, online courses on topics like savings strategies, inventory management and math for purchasing professionals.
Most certifications are good for three to five years. After this time, you must complete requirements to recertify. The most common requirement for recertification is to participate in continuing education activities. For example, the Institute for Supply Management requires Certified Professionals in Supply Management to complete 60 continuing education hours during each three-year certification period. You earn credit toward continuing education requirements by doing things like participating in college courses, seminars and conferences as an attendee, presenter or teacher. Other certifying bodies allow you to meet continuing education requirements by publishing articles in professional journals or by taking leadership roles in professional organizations.
Fees required for certification include application, examination and course fees. At the time of publication, application or certification fees, if required, vary from approximately $300 to $650. Examination fees, if required, range from approximately $80 to $200. The certifications that require you to take online courses require a considerable investment. The four courses required by APS cost $154 each for nonmembers, while the basic Senior Professional in Supply Management certification has a fee of $1,149, including six required courses. Most certifying bodies offer reduced fees for members.