Supply chain certifications: What’s the difference?

Whether just starting out in the supply chain industry or trying to move up the ladder, obtaining certification may give you an edge. But choosing the best certification for you can be difficult.

As a broad overview of the three supply chain industry groups, Bill Seliger, Director of Supply Chain at LSC Communications said that generally, those in CSCMP come out of the trucking industry; APICS draws professionals from manufacturing; and ISM focuses more on procurement and sourcing. However, “they’ve all expanded in supply chain value chain space,” he said.

In fact, both Seliger and Michael Cohn, Director of Supply Chain Operations at SDI Technologies, stress that certification is a huge advantage to those in the supply chain industry. 

Should you get certified?

In interviewing hundreds of candidates over the years, Cohn said the number one benefit he sees is the confidence it gives applicants through their knowledge. 

“It enables you to speak more intelligently during an interview, to tell a company what you can do for them,” Cohn said. That candidate’s knowledge may give them an advantage over someone without a certification, and it can make a difference if the company is laying off employees as well, if that employee has the ability to expertly handle a larger amount of work.


Without a doubt, any certification would bump up someone in the job pool.

Bill Seliger

Director of Supply Chain, LSC Communications


Work experience counts for a lot, and Seliger and Cohn both said they wouldn’t hire based on certification alone. But, “it makes a huge difference if someone cares and has invested in getting that knowledge, and they took an exam,” Seliger said. “Without a doubt, any certification would bump up someone in the job pool.”

Certification can make a difference in pay as well. Several of the institutes mentioned cite studies showing higher pay for those with their designations, and Cohn and Seliger both agree with that assessment. Someone who is more knowledgeable will bring more to the position and the company, says Cohn. Even in the initial hire, it can bump up the pay. “If I’m hiring a planning manager, I’d consider paying more to someone who is APICS certified. I’d pay them more than someone with the same experience who is not certified,” he said.

Those in the supply chain field should consider getting certification early in their career, shortly after college graduation, Cohn said. Each certification program has experience or degree requirements, so those early in their careers should first see what’s required.

Choosing the best fit program

Choosing a certification program should be based both on what you’re doing now, and what you hope to be doing later in your career. However, going through each certification’s benefits and requirements can be a daunting task. For that reason, Supply Chain Dive put together a brief, non-exclusive overview of the various…

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