by Jeffrey F. Solarek
Senior Consultant, Supply Chain Operations Services

Certifications demonstrate that you are well-trained as well as committed to professional growth within your profession.

Having spent many years in the supply chain industry, my key advice to anyone who is currently in a supply chain role or who wants to begin a supply chain career is to pursue certifications. Earning a supply chain certification (or certifications) demonstrates your expertise in the supply chain industry and can help you to advance in your career.

My career path is a testimony to this advice. Earning my Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) certification helped me move from a sales position to a purchasing position early in my career. From there I rose to the position of system supply chain director of a five-hospital health delivery system with the knowledge and credibility I gained from earning an additional seven supply chain certifications.

If you are interested in pursuing professional supply chain certification, but aren’t sure where to begin, consider making your first step joining a professional supply chain membership organization.

Professional Membership Organizations

Membership has many benefits, including the latest news and information about supply chain issues, leadership opportunities, and networking opportunities with other supply chain professionals. Many organizations also offer professional certifications as well as discounts on testing, study guides, and tutoring classes.

A few of the organizations you can choose from include the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) of the American Hospital Association, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). I personally belong to several professional supply chain membership organizations and find great value in each of them.

Professional Certifications

When considering certifications to pursue, there are many to choose from. If your career path/interest includes purchasing, contracting, or inventory management in health care, consider the Certified Materials & Resource Professional (CMRP) certification from AHRMM.

If you want exposure to supply chain practices outside the health care industry, consider pursuing the Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) or Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity® (CPSD™) programs, both from ISM. Another option is the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), or Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) programs from ASCM (also formerly known as the American Production and Inventory Control Society, or APICS).

Certification Tips for Success

I hope I’ve persuaded you to pursue a professional supply chain certification. Here are some tips to help you be successful:

  • Check professional membership organization(s) that you may belong to (or may want to join) for possible discounts on testing, study guides, and tutoring classes. They also may have an online community that can help you, support you, and provide helpful tips.
  • Order the exam guide or study guide. Take time to read the materials and take a sample test on the certification website.
  • Create a study plan. Use your results on the sample test to better understand your knowledge strengths as well as the areas you’ll need to study longer. This will help you to create a study plan to be successful when you take the actual exam. You may want to sign up for additional exam preparation opportunities, such as a preparation course or study group. Many are offered online and in person.
  • Choose a test date. This is the number one task to motivate you and keep you on track to pass the test. Think about when you were in school. Test dates were set and you could not change them. Choosing a test date helps to establish a timeline to achieve your goal and reduce procrastination. Remember to choose a date that will allow you time to study, attend webinars, and take course preparation sessions. Don’t forget to take your career workload as well as any personal commitments into account when setting a test date. Pick a reasonable test date to help ensure your successful outcome.
  • Take the practice exam again and fine-tune final preparations.
  • On the day of the test, make sure you are well rested, remain calm, be on time, be aware of time constraints, and remember the exam tips you studied.
  • Chances are if you took the time to prepare properly for the exam, you will have a successful outcome. However, if you did not pass the test, don’t give up. I encourage you to choose a new date to take the test. You now know what more you need to do to succeed. Use this as motivation for trying again.

Certifications can help with your career advancement with your current employer and give you an edge over other candidates in the market. Certifications demonstrate that you are well-trained as well as committed to professional growth within your profession. Good Luck!

About the author. As senior consultant, Jeff Solarek provides guidance, mentoring and leadership to member organizations to help transform their supply chain operations to leading-practice performance levels. With more than 30 years of supply chain experience in technology, steel, electronics and health care, Solarek has garnered eight supply chain certifications: CPSM, APP and CPM from the Institute of Supply Chain Management; CPCM from the National Contract Management Association; CPIM and CIRM from the American Production and Inventory Control Society; and CMRP, along with a fellowship (FAHRMM) from the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management.

Published: November 4, 2020