Top 3 Best Procurement Certifications 

What Are They, How Much They Cost, How Long To Complete Each & Curriculum Summary.
Extensive & In-Depth Critique Reveals All About Top  3 Procurement Certifications!

Below you’ll find details about the top 3 best procurement certifications including their learning paths/courses, how much each certification costs and an indications as to who each certification is best suited for.

While it will take 10 to 15 minutes to read & digest this in-depth critique, consider this as an investment of your time & due diligence before you fork out thousands of dollars to enroll in a procurement certification program.

What’s important to understand is that when you enroll for any of the best procurement certifications that does not guarantee success. And that’s what we talk about in the second part - best procurement certifications and being successful as a procurement professional. Here we also highlight the biggest mistake people make when studying for certifications.

Once you complete reading this in-depth article you will have a much clearer view as to the various  choices you have for enrolling in a procurement certification program, plus an option to have a free trial of our online purchasing & procurement certification program.

The Top 3 Best Procurement Certifications:

1. Certified International Procurement Professional (CIPP) & Certified International Procurement Professional (CIAPP) 

2. Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

3. Member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (MCIPS)

Why Procurement Certifications?

It’s said almost everywhere - with a certification you can expect better job, better career and better pay. 

As per entrepreneur.com a certification will help an individual to gain more trust & credibility, stand out from the crowd and higher earnings. 

According to a survey by SimpliLearn, 6 out of 10 certified professionals get a pay-raise within 6 months of completing a certification & more than 50% of all certified professionals are promoted within the first 6 months of getting certified. 

A “soft” benefit is that certified professional have a confidence level 3 times higher when compared to non-certified peers. That likely goes with the knowledge gained when undergoing through the certification program.

Certified Professionals Stand Out, Get Promotions & Pay-Raises!

This US Study states that while certified procurement professionals and managers earn higher salaries than those without a procurement certifications, it seems that there is no difference in salaries based on the type of procurement certification one holds. 

The study was comparing the salary earning gap between CPSM certification (see below for more details on CPSM) and other procurement certifications. It states that the gap has been shrinking and it seems there’s little difference if one holds CPSM or other purchasing and procurement certification.

No Difference in Salaries For Certified Procurement Professional Regardless of Certification Body!

PART I
Summary of Top 3 Procurement Certifications


1. CIPP & CIAPP Certifications

CIPP stands for Certified International Procurement Professional & CIAPP Certified International Advanced Procurement Professional - both these top procurement certification programs are delivered fully online with 12 & 18 months unlimited access respectively.

CIPP covers in-depth strategic sourcing, negotiations & legal aspects in procurement and fundamentals for contract management, strategy, contract terms, operational procurement and finance and cost concepts for procurement. 

CIPP comes with unlimited access for 65 modules with total learning time of 63 hours including scenario based e-learning, simulations, tasks, quizes, assessments & exams. 

The Image below shows the competences/skills covered in CIPP together with the level of learning from 1 to 4, with Level 1 being Fundamental & Level 4 Expert.

CIPP Procurement Certification Learning Program Summary


Competence:

  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Negotiations
  • Legal Aspects in Procurement
  • Finance for Procurement
  • Cost Management
  • Operational Procurement
  • Contract Management
  • Strategy & Supplier Relations
  • Project Management

Skill Level:

  • 3 - Practitioner
  • 4 - Expert
  • 3 - Practitioner
  • 1 - Awareness
  • 2 - Understanding
  • 2 - Understanding
  • 2 - Understanding
  • 1 - Awareness
  • 1 - Awareness

CIAPP however focuses on more strategic procurement topics at advanced & expert levels. It covers in-depth most procurement competences for Managers, Directors & other Senior Procurement Leaders such as category management, supplier relationship management, Contract management, Strategy including an Expert Level for Strategic Sourcing, Negotiations & Cost Management. 

CIAPP includes unlimited access for 114 modules with total learning time of 107 hours including scenario based e-learning, simulations, tasks, quizes, assessments & exams.

The Image below shows the competences/skills in the CIAPP certification, which clearly show the advanced levels that one masters during this program.

CIAPP Procurement Certification Learning Program Summary


Competence:

  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Negotiations
  • Legal Aspects in Procurement
  • Finance for Procurement
  • Cost Management
  • Operational Procurement
  • Contract Management
  • Category Management
  • Strategy & Supplier Relations
  • Project Management

Skill Level:

  • 4 - Expert
  • 4 - Expert
  • 3 - Expert 
  • 4 - Expert
  • 3 - Practitioner
  • 1 - Awareness
  • 3 - Practitioner
  • 4 - Expert
  • 3 - Practitioner
  • 3 - Practitioner


Price/Cost of CIPP/CIAPP Certification?

Both Certifications come with an all inclusive fee of USD 2,195 for CIPP and USD 2,995 for CIAPP. The fees include all the learning tools - Scenario based e-learning, simulations, task/short assignments, refreshers, quizes, assessments & exams .

CIPP & CIAPP is offered by Purchasing & Procurement Center as a commercial partner with Procurement Academy for Online Procurement Certifications.

Who is CIPP & CIAPP Best Suited For?

CIPP is best suited for Non-Managerial Purchasing & Procurement Executives, whereas CIAPP is for Skilled Managers, Directors & Other Senior Procurement Leaders looking for a comprehensive and advanced online procurement certification program.

CIPP & CIAPP is Best Suited for Those Looking for a knowledge-based & skills-building procurement certification that includes a Practical High Impact E-Learning  with Real-Life Scenarios.


2. CPSM from Institute of Supply Management (ISM)

CPSM stands for “Certified Professional in Supply Management”. It requires three exams that focus on basics, advanced execution, and leadership. 

Exam content addresses today's procurement and supply chain environment and workplace complexities such as risk, strategic sourcing, technology and increased skills needed for supply professionals to drive value in their organizations.

As per Wikipedia below image - the 3 CPSM  Exams Topics!

CPSM Exam Topics


Exam 1 - Foundation of Supply Management

  • Cost & Finance
  • Contracting & Negotiation
  • International
  • Social Responsibility
  • Sourcing
  • Supplier Relationship Management

Exam 2 - Effective Supply Management Performance

  • Forecasting & Logistics
  • Materials & Inventory Management
  • Organization Assessment
  • Planning & Quality
  • Project Management
  • Product Development

Exam 3: Leadership in Supply Management

  • Leadership
  • Risk & Compliance
  • Strategic Sourcing



Price/Cost of CPSM Certification?

CPSM costs and pricing vary from almost USD 2,000 to USD 3,600. The variance is due to the fact that CPSM requires to pay separately  for:

1. Exams

2. Membership, and

3. Study Materials/Learning modules.

With options to chose from self-study which are cheaper than guided learning & classroom trainings which are more expensive.

For more details & explanations see at the end where we include images and detailed pricing for each item.


Who is CPSM Best-Suited For?

CPSM is best suited for those who are experienced & well-versed with procurement principles and looking for mainly taking the exams directly without studying in depth, not because they don’t need to, but because they already know most about procurement skills & competences.

3. MCIPS from Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS)

MCIPS stands for Member of Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply. It's awarded after completing Level 6 which is a Professional Diploma.

There are 5 levels of learning and each level has multi-topics and exam for each topic so that to achieve MCIPS certification. Out of these, there are 3 entry levels - level 2, 3 & 4.

Those with experience can start at Level 4, but those who are new would likely start at level 2 or 3.

Unique about CIPS certification program is that there are compulsory & elective subjects, similar to an academic program.

See Below image for a summary of MCIPS Levels & Qualifications

CIPS Certification Program Summary

Level 2 Certificate - 5 Core Modules with 18 Credit Hours

Level 3 Advanced Certificate - 4 Core & 1 Elective Modules with 30 Credit Hours

Level 4 Diploma - 8 Core Modules with 60 Credit Hours

Level 5 Advanced Diploma - 5 Core & 3 Elective Modules with 60 Credit Hours

Level 6 Professional Diploma - 4 Core & 3 Elective Modules with 60 Credit Hours

CIPS certification starts with Level 2 that includes five modules with a total of 18 credit hours:

  1. Introduction,
  2. Procurement operations,
  3. Stakeholder relations,
  4. Systems & technology and
  5. Inventory & logistics.

Then it continues with Level 3 which contains five modules (4 compulsory & then option to chose 1 module between 2 electives) with a total of 30 credit hours. Areas of study are:


CIPS Level 3 Core Modules

  1. Procurement environments,
  2. Procurement Ethics,
  3. Contract administration,
  4. Team dynamics 

CIPS Level 3 Elective Modules

  1. Socially responsible procurement &
  2. Warehousing and distribution.

CIPS Level 4 includes 8 core modules with a total of 60 Credit Hours

  1. Scope & Influence Of Procurement
  2. Defining Business Needs
  3. Commercial Contracting
  4. Ethical & Responsible Sourcing
  5. Commercial Negotiations
  6. Supplier Relationships
  7. Whole Life Asset Management
  8. Procurement & Supply in Practice

CIPS Level 5 requires a total of 8 modules to be completed with five core modules and 3 electives (to select from among 6 electives) - Total of 60 Credit Hours. 


CIPS Level 5 Core Modules

  1. Managing Teams & Individuals
  2. Managing Supply Chain Risks
  3. Managing Contractual Risks
  4. Advanced Contract & Financial Management
  5. Managing Ethical Procurement & Supply

CIPS Level 5 Elective Modules

  1. Category Management
  2. Achieving Competitive Advantage Through the Supply Chain
  3. Project & Change Management
  4. Operations Management
  5. Logistics Management
  6. Advanced Negotiations

Finally, Level 6 requires completion of 7 modules with 4 core modules and 3 electives (to be selected from among 5 electives) - Total of 60 Credit Hours. 

CIPS Level 6 Core Modules

  1. Strategic Ethical Leadership
  2. Global Commercial Strategy
  3. Global Strategic Supply Chain Management
  4. Future Strategic Challenges for the Profession

CIPS Level 6 Elective Modules

  1. Strategic Programme Leadership
  2. Commercial Data Management
  3. Innovations in Procurement & Supply
  4. Supply Network Design
  5. Global Logistics Strategy

CIPS is Similar to a Long Term Academic Program with a Total of 33 Extensive Modules & Exams & more than 200 Credit Hours

Price/Cost of MCIPS Certification?

MCIPS pricing is not easily to discern as it includes a membership fee of about 250 GBP, buying study materials (online or printed), attending classes (the price for which cannot be easily found on the website) and then an exam fee + an exam venue surcharge fee. 

While there seems to be only 1 exam for Level 2 & 3, there are multiple exams for each course in Level 4, 5 & 6. 

Overall the cost of MCIPS certification will vary depending whether you start at level 2, 3 or 4, starting at about GBP 2,000 (about USD 2,600) for exams alone from Level 4 to Level 6.

For Study Guide/materials costs, CIPS seems to have One Study Guide for each Subject, which  would likely add another 560 GBP overall for all study guides. 

Overall the cost of MCIPS Certification would be around GBP 2,600 (USD 3,400), considering one would start at Level 4 as an Entry Level. Normally working professionals with experience might start at Level 4, but those without much experience would likely need to start at Level 2, which would add additional costs to MCIPS certification.

For more details & explanations see at the end where we include images and detailed pricing for each item.

Who is MCIPS Best Suited For?

Due to its elaborate structure and levels, MCIPS is best suited for those who are looking for a longer academic path similar to a degree, as CIPS offers 5 levels of learning to achieve certification. Further, each level has multiple classes to be attended or study guides, plus exams to pass that add to the length of time to achieve MCIPS certification.

PART II
Best Procurement Certification vs Success at Work & Career

This part gives insights as to what you should look for when it comes to procurement certifications, as you will invest your hard earned money - it’s wise to spent time understanding what are the options available to you. 

First of all if you’re looking JUST for a procurement certification, DO NOT enroll in any!

WHY?

Because a piece of paper even when it says “Certified”, will not give you the edge & will not make you successful. You are the only one that can make yourself successful.

You are responsible for your own success - no one should insult your intelligence by telling you that a top or best procurement certification will be the answer to all your problems. 

That’s why, when it comes to any top procurement certification the value that you should look for is not just on the certificate, but much more on the learning & delivery process to ensure that you bring results that your management expects you to deliver. 

Results trumpet everything - when you produce and show results you’re unstoppable, you get the next promotion and the next pay raise. 

The Mistake People Make When Enrolling in a Certification Program!

One of the mistakes people make when enrolling for certification is that they try to study the whole material as soon as they can. We’re used to that since university days - study hard 1 week before the exam and try to get the highest marks possible. 

However human brain does not work by ‘stuffing’ all the learning in one go, within a short period of time. If it did, then we’ll have all those who scored highest in universities to be become directors after graduating. But that’s not the case because knowledge not used is knowledge wasted. Let’s repeat that again:

Knowledge Not Used is Knowledge Wasted!

When looking for any procurement certification program the main criteria that we recommend is that the learning process must focus on learning-by-doing, rather than learning to pass an exam. 

The focus must be on Learning By Doing, Not just To Pass an Exam!

As it currently stands, CPSM & MCIPS are more traditional  procurement certification programs, that focus on preparing for the exam - hence people have to buy study guides or even take exam preparation classes that cost up to USD $2,495.

CIPP/CIAPP on the other hand has been developed only in the last decade, with the latest brain-learning techniques to ensure not just effective learning, but also implementation at work. 

CIPP & CIAPP:
The Superior Online Procurement Certification

Here’s how the CIPP & CIAPP online procurement certification programs helps in learning by doing:

First - Bite-Sized Learning!

You study a little every week - watch 1 to 2 hours or so of the e-learning. That way you are introduced to new principles in ‘small bites’ - easy for you to remember and easy to apply. 

Use the highest level of e-learning based on cognitive load theory that is thought to be the best for the brain in relation to learning - this includes advanced schematics and dialogues of the scenario based e-learning.

Find Out first hand the superiority of CIPP/CIAPP online procurement certifications, by accessing for free 24 e-learning samples here.

Second - Real-Life Simulations!

To move you forward in your learning, CIPP/CIAPP certifications use simulations. They represent Real Life Problems faced by Procurement Executives, where you are given the opportunity to apply the concepts learned. You are put in a scenario where you need to make decisions & given immediate feedback on those decisions. 

Make the wrong decision and feedback/guidance is given hinting you at the correct decision until you make the right decision and move forward in the simulation. It’s better to make mistakes during simulations, rather than in real life.

Third - Application Based Tasks!

After you complete your e-learning for a particular topic, CIPP/CIAPP learning methodology include an immediate application of key learning’s on the job. You will have a number of short job related assignments. Deliverables are 1 page reports such as “writing a category strategy”, “report on RFP process” or “Prepare for a Negotiation Event”. 

This ensures that you prepare a short report from your learning not only to fulfill the criteria towards certification, but also to show to your company what you accomplished. 

Hence the certification process is connected directly with the learning process to ensure direct application of learning principles to the job at hand, through scenario-based e-learning, simulations and application based tasks. 


Which is the Best Procurement Certification?

We’ve highlighted above the top 3 procurement certifications, what they include, how the learning is delivered and how much they cost.

However when it comes as to which is the best - the question should likely be re-framed as:

Which Procurement Certification is  Best For You?

The answer to that question depends on you and your circumstances. Do not expect somebody else to tell you what you need to do - You Need to take charge and decide. 

While determining which is the best procurement certification for you, here's a quick summary of who each certification is for:

1. CIPP is Best For ...

For those who are new or not very experienced and have not had a structured learning in place, CIPP would be a recommended procurement certification.

2. CIAPP is Best For ...

For those experienced Senior Executives who 'know what they know', but also know that they don't know it all, CIAPP brings a carefully designed procurement certification program that can be completed with about 2 hours of learning per week.

3. CPSM is Best For ...

For those who are experienced in procurement and very confident in their skill-sets and capability, CPSM might be the right program to quickly acquire a procurement certification.

4. MCIPS is Best For ...

For those who would prefer a long academic path, MCIPS might be the right program. It offers 5 Levels of Learning to achieve certification. 

Make Your Success Happen By Design, Not Accident!

Editorial Team 

Purchasing & Procurement Center


The Section below provides supporting proof & detailed explanations for CPSM & MCIPS Procurement Certification Programs.

More Pricing & Cost Details for CPSM & MCIPS

Details & Explanations for Price/Cost of CPSM Certification!

First, to get a better price for CPSM certification, one needs to enroll as a member of ISM which costs USD $240 - see image/screenshot below from ISM website.

Second, CPSM Cost includes the following 3 Exams at USD $229 for each. Total of $687 - see image below (bottom left of image).

Third, CPSM Application Fee of USD $119, once passing the exams - see image above (mid-left of image).

Fourth, there are 3 Individual Options for self-study. While there’s another options for teams, costs are not indicated - see image below, where cost for self-study is at $795 minimum with the maximum being  USD $2,565 for Guided Learning.

Here are then 2 CPSM cost & pricing options for Minimum and Maximum:

CPSM Minimum Cost of $1,841, including the following:

  • self-study ($795) + 
  • exam fees ($229 per exams x3 exams) + 
  • application fee ($119) + 
  • membership fee ($240).

CPSM Maximum Cost of up to $ 3,611, including the following:

  • guided learning ($2,565)+ 
  • exam fees ($229 per exams x 3 exams) + 
  • application fee ($119) + 
  • membership fee ($240).

Details & Explanations for Price/Cost of MCIPS Certification!

MCIPS Initial Membership Fee & Exam Costs

* Membership Fee for MCIPS = GBP 256 

* Exam Fees 

  • Level 4 MCIPS Exam Fees

The exam fee for one Level 4 course is about GBP 48 + GBP 30 for exam venue x 8 modules/courses = GBP 624. 

  • Level 5 MCIPS Exam Fees

Level 5 exam fees for each course are same as Level 4 and at 8 modules is GBP 624 as well

  • Level 6 MCIPS Exam Fees

Level 6 exam fees for each course are the same as Level 4. At 7 modules total cost for level 6 is GBP 546.

See Image Below for Membership Fee and Exam Fee for One Level 6 Course

Membership & Exam costs ONLY for MCIPS (see below for Study Materials Costs).

  • Membership = GBP 256
  • Level 4 Exams = GBP 624
  • Level 5 Exams = GBP 624
  • Level 6 Exams = GBP 546

Member & Exam Costs for MCIPS are at GBP 2,050 (USD 2,650)

MCIPS Study Materials Pricing & Costs

  • Level 4 Study Guides Costs

Level 4 has 8 courses to be completed with 6 study guides priced at GBP 20 and 2 study guides at GBP 40. Overall level 4 study guides cost would be GBP 200. 

Image below taken from CIPS website shows the pricing of study guides.

  • Level 5 Study Guides Costs

Similar to level 4 there are 8 courses to be completed but there are 11 study guides because some courses are electives. Overall though, buying the study guides for Level 5 would be around GBP 200 as well.

  • Level 6 Study Guides Costs

There are 7 courses to be completed in Level 6 with electives. Pricing is similar to Level 4 & 5 with GBP 20 to 40 per guide. This would make an approximate cost of GBP 160.

Overall study Guides Costs for MCIPS Certifications would then be:

  • Level 4 Study Guides Costs = GBP 200
  • Level 5 Study Guides Costs = GBP 200
  • Level 6 Study Guides Costs = GBP 160

Total Cost for MCIPS study materials is GBP 560.

Overall Costs for MCIPS then are:

Member & Exam Costs = GBP 2,050 + Study Materials Costs = GBP 560

Total cost for MCIPS certification would be around GBP 2,610 (USD 3,400).

This EXCLUDES any shipping costs for study materials, which further ads to the issue that MCIPS cost and pricing is pretty opaque and not easy to find out.

Shipping Costs vary by country but it would likely add another 500 to 1,000 GBP or more. 

Related to Procurement Certifications ...