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Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) Program FAQs

  • What is the Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®) designation?

    The Certified Professional in Supply Management® is recognized globally as a standard of excellence for professionals in procurement, supply management and supply chain management. The CPSM® program reflects the expanded knowledge, skills and abilities required to be a successful professional. Backed by one of the world’s largest associations in the field of supply management, the CPSM® is a mark of dedication and distinction.

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  • What are the criteria to obtain the CPSM®?

    3 years full-time, professional supply management experience (nonclerical, nonsupport) with a regionally accredited1 bachelor's degree OR 5 years of supply management experience (nonclerical, nonsupport) without a degree.

    Pass 3 CPSM® Exams.

    1Regionally accredited means that your bachelor's degree was earned from a college or university that is recognized by one of the six U.S. accrediting organizations listed with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Please email the Certification Department if you have questions regarding your degree.

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  • What is considered acceptable work experience?

    Full-time professional experience where supply management, procurement or supply chain is the primary job function. Clerical and support roles do not apply. Candidates can submit a Work Experience Evaluation if they are unsure if their experience qualifies. This evaluation is optional and a fee will apply.

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  • Do I have to have the required experience before I can take the exams?

    No. Exam scores are valid for 4 years from the test date. You can take the exams as you work towards your experience and/or degree.

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  • What are the benefits of achieving the CPSM®?

    CPSM®s indicate that they have mastered the supply management body of knowledge. Current evolution of the profession dictates that a strategic level certification is needed for professionals to effectively implement innovative supply chain strategies throughout their entire organization. The CPSM® is a milestone for those professionals who take ownership of their careers. Surveys indicate those with professional certifications report higher annual compensation than those without. Pursuing the CPSM® is your chance to leverage your knowledge and experience into career advancement.

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  • What are the benefits for my organization if I become CPSM® certified® certified?

    CPSM®s have demonstrated knowledge of the cross-functional skills that enable them to contribute value and lead their organization in today’s global economy. The CPSM® emphasizes major segments of the supply management profession, all critical to their employer’s success. CPSM®s demonstrate a dedication to their profession and to continuous professional development. Senior supply management executives often find value in using the CPSM® as a development tool for their entire organization, to ensure that everyone shares a common understanding of the skills required by the profession.

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  • How does ISM distinguish the CPSM® certification from other organizations' designations?

    The CPSM® targets supply management professionals who are forward thinking and strive to have a broad understanding of all components of the profession. It focuses on strategic supply management and contains the most comprehensive body of knowledge in this area. Unlike other credentials, in order to maintain the CPSM®, professionals must continue learning and developing their skills throughout their careers.

    See CPSM® Exam Specifications

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  • What is the average cost to obtain the CPSM®?

    The average cost for ISM members ranges from $1,600 - $3,370 USD. ISM membership is not required to become a CPSM®, however significant savings, along with a host of member benefits are enjoyed by ISM members. For information about joining as an ISM member, visit the membership section of our website.

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  • How long will it take to get my CPSM®?

    Timeframes vary based upon candidates’ study program. For those who are self-paced learners, the average is approximately 6 – 12 months to completion, depending on experience and time available to study.

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  • Are there exam(s) for the CPSM®?

    There are three separate CPSM® Exams which together cover the main segments of supply management. 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.

    Exam Registration

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  • What content is covered in the CPSM® Exams?

    There are three CPSM® Exams. Below is a break-down of the exam by sections, with the number of questions and time allowed. See the Exam Specifications for further details.

    Supply Management Core
    Section Name
    # of Questions
    Sourcing
    50
    Category Management
    10
    Negotiation
    14
    Legal & Contractual
    21
    Supplier Relationship Mgmt
    43
    Cost & Price Mgmt
    10
    Financial Analysis
    9

    180 Questions
    180 Scored | 15 Unscored
    3 Hours

    Supply Management Integration
    Section Name
    # of Questions
    Supply Chain Strategy
    25
    Sales and Operations Planning – Demand Planning
    10
    Sales and Operations Planning – Forecasting
    25
    Sales and Operations Planning – Product and Service
    15
    Quality Management
    14
    Logistics & Material Mgmt
    53
    Project Management
    8

    165 Questions
    150 Scored | 15 Unscored
    2 Hours, 45 Minutes

    Leadership and Transformation in Supply Management
    Section Name
    # of Questions
    Leadership and Business Acumen – Strategy Development
    18
    Leadership and Business Acumen – Stakeholder Engagement
    25
    Leadership and Business Acumen – People Development and Coaching
    39
    Systems Capability & Technology
    11
    Risk & Compliance
    33
    Corporate Social Responsibility
    24

    165 Questions
    150 Scored | 15 Unscored
    2 Hours, 45 Minutes

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  • What study options are available for CPSM® Exam preparation?

    ISM offers a variety of robust resources and tools to assist candidates in their pursuit of the CPSM® Certification. We have option available for every learning style including:

    Self-Study, Digital

    The CPSM® Learning System (Digital) is a comprehensive professional development system designed to help you prepare for all three exams. For more information on the online platform click here.

    >Guided Learning

    This unique, online course offers activities and live webinars to keep you on track to earn your CPSM® Certification.

    Self-Study, Print

    The CPSM® Learning System (Print)provides printed materials but does not include access to the online resources and tools.

    Classroom-based for groups or teams

    Bring training on-site at your organization. The ISM Corporate Services team works with you to provide team-based classroom learning.

    For more information on the different CPSM® Learning Methods Available Please Download this Overview.

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  • How much do the CPSM® Exams cost?

    $229 USD per exam for ISM Members

    $379 USD per exam for nonmembers

    Exam registrations are valid for 6 months from the date that ISM processes your registration. You must test by the expiration date to avoid forfeiting your exam fees.

    Exam fees are nonrefundable

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  • How are the Exams scored? What is passing?

    Each candidate must pass with a minimum scaled score of 400 regardless of the number of questions in that Exam. ISM maintains multiple versions, or forms, of the exam. While the content of the exam remains constant, the actual questions used in the exam will change. Different forms of the exam use different questions, the level of difficulty will vary slightly from test to test. To compensate for these variations, a statistical procedure known as equating is used to account for differences in test difficulty. The passing score is not calculated based upon percentages.

    For example, let's suppose we have two test forms of an exam — Test A and Test B. Now suppose it is established that in order to pass Test A, a person must answer 32 out of 60 questions correct. Furthermore, suppose that Test B is somewhat easier than Test A. To compensate for this difference, the passing score for Test B is adjusted to prevent any "bonus" being given to the candidates taking Test B. Thus, it may be established that a candidate must get a score of 34 out of 60 on Test B in order to pass. This is test equating. It holds candidates to the same standard in terms of difficulty, regardless of which version is taken.

    Due to this method of equating the percentage of correct answers varies from exam to exam. Then, to maintain consistency in scoring, a second statistical procedure called scaling is used. Scaling converts all scores to a scale ranging from 100 to 600 with a passing score set at 400. Thus, the scores you receive from ISM are actually scaled scores. If the scaled score on any particular Exam ranges from 100 to 390, this means you failed that Exam. If the scaled score is in the range of 400 to 600, you passed that Exam.

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  • What do I do if I fail an exam?

    If you fail an exam, you should use the score report that you receive from the test center to re-focus your study effort on any task area(s) where you did not answer approximately 75% of the questions correctly. Then revisit the study material you used to prepare for the exams and purchase additional sources if more in-depth studying is needed.

    In order to re-test, you will again need to register with ISM and pay the appropriate member or non-member fee.

    ISM has a 30-day retake policy for the CPSM® Exams. If you are unsuccessful on an exam you must wait 30 days before you are eligible to re-take that specific exam.

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  • Do I have to pay to re-take the exam?

    Yes, you will again need to register with ISM and pay the appropriate member or non-member fee. There is no discount on re-tests.

    ISM has a 30-day retake policy for the CPSM® Exams. If you are unsuccessful on an exam you must wait 30 days before you are eligible to re-take that specific exam.

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  • Am I able to see the questions that I got wrong on an exam?

    Specific exam questions and answers are not made public. A score report for each exam is provided upon completion. The score report provides detail about the task areas where questions were missed. Task areas that you answered less than 75% of the questions correct is an area that requires more study.

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  • How long are my CPSM® Exam scores valid?

    CPSM® Exam scores are valid for 4 years from the date they are taken. If an exam score is more than 4 years old, the exam must be taken and passed again before applying for the CPSM®.

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  • How do I register for CPSM® Exam(s)? How do I know where the closest test center is located?

    There are two ways to register for a CPSM® exam:

    Register Online

    Or call

    480-752-6276, option 8

    Your exam registration is valid for six months from the day ISM processes your registration. Payment is required in advance. You must test by the expiration date to avoid forfeiting your exam fees.

    Individual candidate testing is done at Pearson VUE Testing Centers and can be scheduled at your convenience.

    Exam fees are $229 per exam for ISM members and $379 per exam for nonmembers. Exam fees are nonrefundable.

    Within 24 hours of processing your registration, you will receive a confirmation letter from ISM with instructions on how to schedule an exam and locate a test center on Pearson VUE's website.

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  • What kind of identification (I.D.) will I need in order to test?

    For your exam, you must bring one valid photo I.D. with signature that exactly matches the name on your exam registration.

    Your I.D. MUST be one of the following:

    Driver's License*

    Passport*

    Military I.D.*

    Official State, Government, or National I.D.

    Employee I.D.

    Student I.D.

    Photo credit card

    No other forms of I.D. will be accepted.


    *Driver's License, Passport and Military IDs that have a digital signature encoded will only be accepted as valid ID if accompanied by another valid ID with signature.

    Note: on the day of your exam, if you are unable to produce a valid I.D. matching the name in ISM's database, you will not be allowed to test and all registration fees will be forfeited.

    Note: Pearson VUE uses biometrics in all test centers. Biometrics are automated methods of recognizing a person based on a physical characteristic and are primarily used to combat identity fraud. One such method involves the examinee placing a palm on a scanner, which results in an electronic palm print.

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  • What else should I know about taking my exam at a Pearson VUE Test Center?

    Plan to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment. If you are late, you will be considered a "no show" and your exam fees will be forfeited.

    You will be required to leave all personal belongings in a locker. This includes bags, cell phones, watches, wallets, notes, books or other materials not authorized for this exam.

    An erasable note board and pen will be provided for the exam. They will be collected at the end of the test.

    Calculators will be also be provided.

    Wear comfortable, layered clothing. Test center temperatures vary.

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  • How do I reschedule or cancel an existing appointment?

    To reschedule or cancel your test appointment, you must contact Pearson VUE at least 24-hours prior to the scheduled local testing time. For example, an 8:30am appointment on Monday must be rescheduled by 8:30am on Sunday (all times are local). If you do not reschedule or cancel your appointment in time, all funds are forfeited.

    Fees may apply if any changes or cancellations are made within 48 hours of the scheduled appointment time.

    Please DO NOT call your local Pearson VUE test center to make appointments or cancel or reschedule appointments.

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  • How can I take CPSM® Exams at my company?

    ISM offers onsite testing for groups. To request more information regarding on-site testing, please contact:

    Michelle Pattee (email), Coordinator — Exam Delivery

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  • How can I schedule CPSM® Review Courses at my company?

    ISM offers onsite training and review courses. To require more information, please contact:

    ISM Services (email)

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  • How do I apply for the CPSM®?

    After you have met all requirements, you will need to apply for certification. You can apply online here.

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  • What is the status of my application?

    Application processing may take up to 4 weeks. We offer a rush service for an additional fee. If rush service is purchased, we guarantee that your application will be reviewed within 2 business days.

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  • How long is my CPSM® valid?

    The CPSM® designation is valid for a 3 year period. To maintain the CPSM®, you must recertify by submitting a recertification application with proof of continuing education completed. Individuals with a CPSM® that has been expired for more than a year must retake all of the exams to recertify.

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  • Once earned, how do I maintain my CPSM®?

    CPSM®s are required to recertify every 3 years with 60 Continuing Education Hours (CEHs). CPSM®s are encouraged to recertify within the 60 days prior to the expiration date. Once your certification has expired, you will be given a one-year grace period in which you can recertify with no penalty. Candidates in their grace period will not be recognized as a CPSM® nor will they be allowed to use the designation. Certificate dates will appear on the certificate as if the recertification had been completed prior to the expiration of your previous certificate.

    Please notify the Certification Department when you move or change jobs in order to keep your records current, as we may attempt to notify individuals when their designation has expired.

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  • How do I earn Continuing Education Hours (CEHs)?

    To recertify, applicants must earn 60 Continuing Education Hours (CEHs) during their current certification period. At least two-thirds of the points must be educational in nature. One-third may be earned in the professional contributions category. Candidates will be able to retake CPSM® Exams for 20 CEHs each, but only in the last year of their certification or during their grace period. ISM does not pre-approve CEHs for recertification.

    Categories for earning CEHs are:

    College Courses (taken or taught)

    Continuing Education (taken or taught), including seminars, web seminars, corporate training, etc.

    Contributions to the Profession

    CPSM® Exams (20 CEHs each in the last year of qualification or during the grace period)

    Please notify the Certification Department when you move or change jobs in order to keep your records current, as we may attempt to notify individuals when their designation has expired.

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  • Are there any low cost ways to earn Continuing Education Hours (CEHs)?

    Yes, ISM offers several low-cost options to earn CEHs. Training offered by your employer or other organization may also qualify.

    One of the best ways to earn your CEHs is through an ISM Membership. Just being a member is worth 3 CEHs annually. Through the free monthly webinars offered to members you can obtain up to 12 CEHs per year by attending those. To learn more about ISM Membership click here.

    If I have multiple designations do I need separate Continuing Education Hours (CEHs) each renewal or can I use the same hours for both?

    You may use the same CEHs for all ISM designations so long as they were obtained during your current certification period.

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  • Will it be possible to achieve Lifetime status for the CPSM®?

    No. Lifetime status is not available for the CPSM®. Since the profession is continuing to increase in complexity, continuing education will play a major role in making sure supply managers stay current on the latest supply management best practices.

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  • How do I know when my CPSM® expires?

    The expiration date is located on the bottom left corner of your certificate. You can also verify your credentials online or contact the Certification Department.

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  • What happens if my CPSM® expires?

    There is a one-year grace period in which you can recertify without penalty. During this grace period the individual is no longer considered a CPSM® in good standing and should not use the designation until they are recertified. The grace period does not lengthen your certification period — using this grace period will not change your next expiration date. Your expiration date will remain three years from when you were certified. If your CPSM® is expired beyond the one-year grace period, you will need to retake the CPSM® exams to reinstate the designation.

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  • Do you offer reimbursement through the GI Bill?

    The United States Department of Veterans Affairs reimburses for CPSM® Exam fees.

    Our exams are specifically approved for the GI Bill. The VA can pay only for the cost of the tests and not other fees connected with obtaining the or CPSM® (study materials, application fees, etc.).

    According to the GI Bill Web site, you may receive this benefit if you are eligible for:

    The Montgomery GI Bill (also called the MGIB or Chapter 30)

    • VEAP (also called Chapter 32), or

    • Dependents Educational Assistance (also called DEA or Chapter 35) (DEA is a benefit for children, spouses, and surviving spouses of veterans with 100% service-connected disability or who died in service or due to service-connected disability.)

    You can receive up to $2,000 per test (but not more than the cost of the test). There is no limit to the number of tests you can take.

    For more details please visit http://inquiry.vba.va.gov/weamspub/buildSearchLCCriteria.do. When using the search feature, keep in mind that ISM is located in the state of Arizona.

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  • How do I get a replacement certification?

    Please fill out this form and send it to certification@instituteforsupplymanagement.org you will be emailed an invoice.

    Costs to replace certificates

    U.S. and Canada certificates are USD$35.00

    International certificates are USD$35.00 plus USD$125.00 international shipping fee*

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  • I am having issues getting my work experience documentation, do you have any suggestions?

    Remember to use employer letterhead, have a current or previous supervisor or human resource department sign each letter, and include each title, and the length of time the title was held (from mo/yr to mo/yr).

    Titles referenced in the samples are representative only and do not cover the range of titles held or used in the field.

    Questions? Call ISM at 480-752-6276, extension 3094.

    Some of the more common situations encountered when documenting experience, and recommended solutions, are covered below:

    My previous employer is no longer in business or the business has been sold or merged with another company.

    Contact a previous supervisor, or other individual you worked with, who can certify your employment history and have them write a letter for you. Have them explain the situation briefly and identify their previous relationship to you within the company.

    I cannot locate any information on my previous employer.

    Consider researching information at your public library or local government entity for documents of incorporation. You may be able to find the entity holding the personnel/employment records. You may also want to ask your present employer if they verified your previous experience, job titles, dates held, and so on. If this was done, your current employer can certify previous experience.

    I'm not sure my job title or job duties are eligible.

    If you have a title that is not normally associated with professional purchasing and supply management, then document your responsibilities in detail and submit with your application. When listing job duties please make sure to specify the percentage of time spent in each area/job function. ISM will review the material and make a decision.

    My experience was gained while in the military. How do I document that experience?

    Ask your commanding officer for a letter documenting your experience. In most cases we have received the DD 214. In some cases military review or discharge documents may also help document your experience.

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