Should I Earn a CPIM or CSCP Certification?

Learn about the benefits and requirements of the CPIM and CSCP certifications from APICS and how they can help advance your career in the growing field of supply chain management.
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Updated on April 3, 2024
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The Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS) offers both the Certified in Planning and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification and the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) certification. These certifications can help supply chain professionals grow their careers by demonstrating practical knowledge and critical skills in the industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that positions for logisticians — professionals who oversee supply chains — will grow 18% from 2022-2032, a much faster growth rate than average. Also, in 2022, the median annual wage for logisticians was $77,520, well above the national median wage across all occupations.

Learn more about CPIM and CSCP certification requirements and benefits on this page.

Understanding Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a discipline that involves the process of creating goods or services and making sure they reach the consumer. Supply chain managers ensure customer satisfaction, which can impact a business's success compared to competitors.

A "supply chain" encompasses any process that converts unprocessed materials into finished goods, whether they are physical or virtual.

Supply chain management professionals can earn certifications to improve their understanding of the industry, earn higher salaries, and move into more senior roles.

How Employers Feel About CPIM and CSCP Certifications

The CPIM and CSCP certifications are well-regarded within the supply chain field. In fact, companies looking to hire supply chain managers often list these credentials on job postings as desired traits of potential candidates.

Earning one or both of these certifications can make a candidate's resume stand out to recruiters. Specifically, the CSCP designation is seen as a mark of dedication and expertise in supply chain management and can aid in securing promotions within a current role.

According to APICS, as of 2022, professionals with the organization's certifications were more likely to receive promotions and earn higher salaries compared to non-certified peers.

Overall, these certifications are recognized as valuable in demonstrating an individual's commitment to their professional development and knowledge in the supply chain field.

What Are the Requirements for a CPIM vs. CSCP Certification?

CPIM Requirements

  • No educational requirements
  • No previous experience required
  • Pass a two-part exam that costs $1,690 for non-APICS members and $1,215 for members

CSCP Requirements

  • One of the following: a bachelor's degree; three years of professional experience; or CPIM, Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM), Certification in Integrated Resource Management (CIRM), Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR-P), Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM), Certified Supply Manager (CSM), or Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) certification
  • Pass an exam that costs $1,940 for non-APICS members and $1,390 for members

APICS membership costs $99 per year. Membership with the certification upgrade — which allows you to save on certification exams — costs $199 annually.

Preparation Time for CPIM or CSCP Certification

The time it takes to study for the CPIM or CSCP certification exam varies based on the individual's experience, schedule, and commitment to studying. On average, it takes about 6-12 months to prepare for and pass the exams. However, some test takers may choose to study for longer if they are balancing other commitments such as work or family.

What Skills Will I Learn With a CPIM vs. CSCP Certification?

Both CPIM and CSCP certifications are designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the supply chain industry. They cover a broad range of topics like:

  • Supply chain design
  • Planning and execution
  • Supply management
  • Procurement
  • Logistics

Details of Each APICS Certification

The CPIM certification focuses more on the internal operations of a company, including production, inventory, and quality management.

On the other hand, the CSCP certification has a broader scope, covering the entire supply chain from end to end, including suppliers and customers. It also includes a focus on the creation of value through the supply chain, strategic alignment of supply chain and business goals, and the management of relationships across the supply chain.

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Is a CPIM vs. CSCP Certification Worth It?

Both the CPIM and CSCP certifications can help professionals advance their careers. Certification from a professional organization offers employers concrete proof of skills and knowledge. CPIM- and CSCP-certified professionals can leverage their certification into promotions and/or higher salaries.

While CPIM certification may help professionals early in their careers, more experienced employees should consider earning CSCP certification. Readers should note that certification does not guarantee a certain job title or salary. Employees should speak to their current or potential employers about how earning a certification can advance their careers.

How Much Money Can I Make With a CPIM vs. CSCP Certification?

Earning the CPIM and/or CSCP certification can lead to career advancement and a higher salary. According to Payscale, in March 2024, the average annual salary for professionals with a CPIM certification is $84,000. The average annual salary for professionals with a CSCP salary is $93,000.

However, supply chain professionals' salaries can differ depending on many factors, including their location, education, and experience. Professionals looking for better pay may need to search for a new job or move to an area with more competitive salaries.

Jobs for CPIM-certified Professionals

Supply Chain Manager

A supply chain manager oversees all parts of a supply chain. These professionals should have excellent communication and organizational skills. Supply chain managers determine the best and most efficient ways to keep supply chains operating smoothly. According to Payscale, the average annual salary for supply chain managers was $88,360 as of March 2024.

Production Planner

Production planners in manufacturing oversee day-to-day operations. These professionals order necessary materials, ensure all health and safety regulations are followed, and inspect finished products for quality. Production planners also forecast the industry's needs to keep up with customer demands. According to Payscale, production planners in manufacturing earn an average annual salary of $64,770 as of March 2024.

Procurement Specialist

A procurement specialist, sometimes referred to as a purchasing manager, is responsible for procuring goods and/or services for a business at a competitive rate and suitable quality. They manage the procurement cycle, negotiate contracts, and maintain relationships with suppliers to ensure the timely delivery and fulfillment of products and services.

According to the BLS, workers in this position earned a median salary of $75,120 as of May 2022.

Jobs for CSCP-certified Professionals

Director of Supply Chain Management

Directors of supply chain management oversee every aspect of the supply chain and often have other managers reporting to them. These professionals inspect inventory and seek out the best prices for their goods. The position aims to reduce costs and increase efficiency in supply chain logistics. According to Payscale, the average annual salary for this position was $134,010 as of March 2024.

Materials Manager

A materials manager oversees the distribution and intake of all materials used by an organization. These professionals develop and maintain relationships with suppliers to ensure excellent quality for reasonable prices. Materials managers can work in many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and aerospace systems. These professionals earned an average of $80,280 per year as of March 2024.

Logistics Analyst

Logistics analysts are professionals focused on the entire production lifecycle of a product, from the acquisition of materials to the distribution of finished goods. They analyze supply chain processes, manage and maintain logistic databases, and identify opportunities for improvements and inventory reduction.

Logistics analysts are proficient in various software tools and have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Per Payscale, the average annual salary for this position was $64,720 as of March 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions About CPIM vs. CSCP Certifications

Can you take the CSCP exam without taking the CPIM exam?

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Professionals can take the CSCP exam without the CPIM exam. APICS requires CSCP candidates to hold either a bachelor's degree or three years of professional experience if they do not have prior certification to sit for the CSCP exam.

Professionals may also qualify for the CSCP exam if they have passed one of the following certification exams:

  • CFPIM
  • CIRM
  • SCOR-P
  • CPM
  • CSM
  • CPSM

Does CPIM or CSCP certification expire?

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Both CPIM and CSCP certificates expire after five years. However, APICS allows professionals to maintain their certification through professional development activities and continuing education. Professionals who maintain their certification do not need to retake the certification exams.

Professionals who fail to maintain their certification during those five years will need to retake the exams to qualify again.

Is a CPIM certification a prerequisite for CSCP certification?

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CPIM certification is not required to take the CSCP exam. The eligibility requirements for the CSCP program no longer mandate prior certifications, opening up the CSCP to interested individuals without those designations.

Is the CSCP exam multiple-choice?

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The CSCP exam is composed of multiple-choice questions. The questions often require the candidate to select the best of four choices or complete a calculation based on the information given.

Should I get both the CPIM and CSCP certifications?

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The decision to pursue both CPIM and CSCP certifications should align with your professional goals and desired expertise in supply chain management. The CPIM focuses on inventory management, while the CSCP provides a broader view of the supply chain. Both are beneficial for career advancement and can be pursued together to complement your skill set.

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