APICS VS CIPS – What Should You Choose?

Lot of Supply Chain and Procurement folks who are in early stage of their ask me should they go for CIPS or APICS qualification. Depending on their career aspiration to either grow in Supply Chain in general or become specialise procurement professional I give them advice accordingly.
Like most good things in life there is no right or wrong answer, it is only the matter of preference. Therefore, I thought a comparison of two leading supply chain bodies and their qualification will be useful and I hope it will make the decision making easier for aspiring Supply Chain and Procurement professionals.


Background information

APICS (The Association for Operations and Management ) , was founded in 1957 , and now has over 117,000 qualified with their certifications and now operates in 82 countries around the world CIPS (the Charted Institute of Purchasing and Supply) which was created in 1932 and now operates in 150 countries all over the world.




APICS has two main qualifications catered to supply chain and operations personnel , these are:


·         CSCP (Certified supply chain professional ) – gaining this certification helps demonstrate to employers that the individual is an industry expert and is knowledgeable in the best practises and is skilful in their knowledge.


·         CPIM (certified in production and inventory management) – Gaining this certification will be demonstrating the ability to understand and evaluate production and inventory activities within a company’s global operations. Similarly this certification looks to demonstrate to employers that you are an industry expert.


Depending on what the person wants to demonstrate has skills in or future plans, they can choose either certification, the website does have a section to help individuals choose which certifications would be better suited to them.

CIPS – Main qualification is the MCIPS, but in order to achieve the certification there are other exams and certificates that need to be taken to take the final set of MCIPS exam.


Depending on demonstrated experience, Knowledge and other qualifications exemptions from certain exams or qualifications can be permitted.


The website also has an email to help people assess what level they are at and therefore what exams they need to take before being able to then sit the final set of exams.


See if you are also eligible for exemptions










Different Levels and entry requirements

To be a candidate for the CSCP accreditation one needs to have a bachelor’s business degree (3 years) or international experience or have 3 years business experience in a relevant field.

They also accept individuals with other accreditations e.g. CSM, CIRM etc.


However for the CPIM certification an individual needs to have 2 years’ experience in the field, they don’t require a degree.

The Professional diploma in procurement and supply is for any individual with a degree or equivalent.


There are certificates for those with level 2 + education qualifications.


If an individuals does not have a degree but has been working in a relevant field for more than two years they are advised to start at the Diploma in procurement and supply.


Those with a relevant business degree or similar qualification can gain exemptions for certain units.


Link to the different certifications offered can be found here.


Exams setup and costs

The CSCP exam is :

1 exam

4 hours

Can be paper based or computer based

Offered 3 times a years

Price are above £1000


The  CPIM exam:

5 exams

75 questions each

3 hours per exam

Computer based testing

Cost could be around $450


The CIPS exam has

5 per certification level (choices available from 8 courses in later levels)

3 hours

Computer based

Throughout the year

The fee to take the exam ranges from £75 – £100, with additional costs of the centres.

(Could be exempt from some certificates or exams)


Topics covered

The CSCP exam is covered in three modules, these modules cover different aspects of supply chain.


Below are some of the topics covered by the CPIM:

·         procurement management

·         supplier planning

·         capacity planning

·         sales and operations planning

·         continuous improvement



There are 5 certificates to complete before becoming certified.

Each certificate has 4-8 modules

Each module has an exam

(the types of exam range from multiple choice to scenario based question, short and essay style questions).


For more information on the different modules and what they cover please select below:


Diploma in Procurement and Supply


Advance Diploma in Procurement and supply


Professional Diploma in procurement


Resources offered

APICS offer a range of different studying options including:


·         self-study


·         instructor lead course


·         group or co-operate learning


·         Online instructors


They have two main UK centres but many online resources.


Here is a list of the different types of resources offered:


CIPS has  90 study centres  across the UK – 200 across the world , they also offer:


·         E-learning platform which is £120 per unit (certificate) and for £540 for 5 units.


·         8 online tutors per module case studies ,


·         8 hours of interactive e-learning access to module information for a year


·         Self-study.



Here is a link to their range of study options available:


Staying certified

To remain certified a person must :


Abide by their code of ethics and also earn 75 maintenance points* every 5 years.

If not achieved then the individual will be suspended from their qualification.


*Maintenance points  can be gained through Continuing education (attending internal and external seminars/ lectures) , dong presentations ,publications, and educational development


Here is link the maintenance of the certification:


Not Applicable



APICS has varying types of membership all for working professionals.


The main type is the international professional is for those outside North America offering members online resources, networking opportunities and local training courses.


They also have a young professional for students who graduated during the last two years.


Another type of membership is corporate membership for organisations.



Here is the link to different types of memberships available :


CIPS have 4 different  types of membership these are :


·         Affiliate member this is anyone who is not looking to become certified but has a strong interest in procurement and supply. (no need to have past experience or studied the subject).

·         Studying member – this is anyone who is currently studying the subject giving access to a multitude of resources.

·         MCIPS this is for anyone who has gained the certification and gives access to all the resources and discussion zone a professional can use.

·         Fellows are the highest level of membership given to those who achieve a gold standard in the field.



Here is the link to the membership page


In conclusion, I would suggest if an individual wants to grow in Procurement function MCIPS would be preferred options. And I would suggest APICS for individuals who want to grow in Supply Chain and Materials Management.

Recommended Books:

APICS Guide to Careers in Supply Chain and Operations Management

APICS CSCP 2016- Set of 5 Books

APICS Dictionary

64 thoughts on “APICS VS CIPS – What Should You Choose?

  1. Thanks Dr. Muddasir.. Now I know which certification i must complete.. Its helpful for all aspirants who are willing to make a career in SCM or Purchasing.. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Quora
  3. Take both so you have complete cimpetencies in procurement, material mgmt, & SCM. If you still have time and energy, also take other specific certifications such as in negotiation, contract mgmt, transpirtation,vetc. The point is… never ending learning……

  4. Pingback: Quora
  5. Pingback: Quora
  6. Hi Dr. Muddassir,

    I have 5 years of experience in procurement. Which certification should I go for? Can I consider CPSM? Plz help.


  7. Pingback: Quora
  8. Pingback: Quora
  9. hi , I intend enrolling for the Certified International Supply chain Manager course (of the International Purchasing and supply chain management Institute (CISCM of IPSCMI} being organized by High level Training Institute in September 2016 in GHANA.

    Kindly advise if the IPSCMI is also certified, accredited and recognized like the APICS and CIPS

  10. Hi Dr. Muddassir,

    I know of CISCP & CISCM offered by The International Purchasing and Supply Chain management Institute. Also CSCA, CSCP & CPP offered by International Institute for Procurement and Market Research.

    Should I go for any of these? How are they globally compared to CSCP offered by APICS?
    I studied chemical engineering(HND and BSc level), I did online certificate programme in supply chain management from University of Cape Town and MITx, I also have eleven years of experience as process supervisor, shift manager, material/ production planning manager and currently as supply chain manger. My experience cut accross chemical plant and food production(Pasta and noodles) factories.

    Kindly advice also which would be useful for me since I am having plan of starting my own small scale production factory.

    1. I would only suggest you should go for APICS and CIPS certification as they are the only two internationally recognized certification. I don’t recognize any other you mentioned. And I wish you good luck for starting your own production factory.

  11. To stay MCIPS you have to pay £174 per year membership.
    No pay, no registered MCIPS accredited.

    They have refreshed the site and the e-learning modules are very slick (tried one out).

  12. MCIPS is more recognised in UK than Australia … As with CPD hours and study guides for many subjects are designed around UK subject matter. Just saying.

  13. Assalam Walaikum Dr. Muddassir.
    I am working as Demantra Demand Management consultant with knowledge in Advanced Supply Chain Planning(Oracle apps). Total exp 6 yrs.

    Please let me know what path I should take to robust my supply chain career.

      1. Greetings Dr.Muddassir,

        please advice on how to secure CSCP. am a commerce graduate working in Bahrain (GCC).
        what is the advisable mode, name of recognised institute, and duration of course. course fee.

  14. Hi Dr. Muddassir,
    I am 3rd year Mechanical engineering student and want to pursue a career in SCM.
    Which course should I start with so that I can get a job in scm after getting out of college.
    Any help would be greatly help in knowing how to enter into the field of scm

    1. Good questions. Start with jobs like Expediter or supply chain coordinators which do not require supply chain theoretical knowledge and you can learn from the job and then with further studies.

  15. Greetings Dr. Muddassir,
    I am a Procurement professional in India with 7 years of core Procurmeent experience in Corporate Real Estate category. I have started giving my CIPS exams and will complete diploma by end of 2017(need more time to reach MCIPS)in the hope of getting opportunities overseas. Let me know if that makes sense and also suggest countries that prefer CIPS qualification. I have no interest moving to Supply chain & Material Mgt. Please help

  16. Hello Sir…
    I’m an Agriculture graduate with MBA in Rural Management and having 2 years of SCM experience (agro commodity). Want to move in my career in SCM in India, hoping for CSCP…how to proceed? Is it necessary any tech knowledge for CSCP? What will happen if I go for CSCP as non member of APICS?

  17. Hi Mudassir,

    I am having experience in Supply Chain Planning which includes Demand & Procurement Planning in one of the leading retail chain in India. I have done MBA but do not have any specialized certification in SCM. Which would be more relevant for me, CSCP , CPIM or CIPS etc.

    Any specific preferred certifications for looking job opportunities in countries like Singapore, Australia or Dubai.

    Also highlight which is having a comparatively higher success ratio in clearing the Exams.

    Muhammad Sajid

  18. Hi,
    I am Vishaal from Chennai. I have two years experience as Procurement Executive. Now i have decided to take a Certification so that it may enhance my skill. So what i have to do now. Both Certification has its own merits. So which is best for me APICS-CPIM or CIPS ?

  19. Hi Muddassir,

    Informative comparison with crispy informations. It would be great if you could include CPSM from ISM USA also to this

    Best Regards
    Jayesh Nair CPSM

  20. Hi Maddassir,

    Am following all your posts on LinkedIn.Currently am thinking of enroll RMIT MBA Program in Supply Chain. I want to know which is Advisable to do CIPS or MBA. The MBA am planning to do recognized by CIPS.
    Please help me to made the right decision.


  21. Hi Muddasir,

    Iam a Material Planner and Purchaser with 4 years experience, can you please suggest me which certification i should choose ?

  22. Hi Mudassir,
    Hope are you fine, I’ve read all your blogs & columns.

    If anyone wants to attempt both CSCP & CPIM, which he should try first & why ?

    Thank you
    Kamran Mughal

  23. Assalam o alaikum,

    I am currently working as an SAP MM( Material Management) consultant in IT Industry in India,
    Would you please help me to give insights of How any of the above certifications would be helpful for growth in my career in any product based company or would it be beneficial for my current scenario .
    I really fond of SCM as it is a part of my current work in SAP MM functional .
    Jazakalllah khair..

  24. Hi Muddassir,
    I read the whole article very well, however I am still in dilemma and need your some guidance.


      1. Whether my experience counts for CSCP exam Or I have to go through CPIM path .
        Should i go for APICS (CSCP/CPIM) Or ISM(CPSM) and which would be beneficial ?


        1. for CSCP experience requirement mentioned on website. IF you are not clear you can contact APICS and they will answer.
          CPIM if you want to learn Materials Management.
          ISM is for Procurement.

  25. Dear Sir,
    I m from Dhaka last 10yrs working at Supply Chain profession in textile & RMG sector. I like get a professional degree. Pls advise me the best one according to this industry. Thank you sir. Kind regards, Mohammad Rafiqul Islam

  26. Hi Dr. Ahmed

    I’m from South Africa and I have a bachelors degree in Supply Chain Management.

    I’ve been unfortunate finding a job in this field of SCM and have spent 4 years in Admin positions.
    Would you recommend me to enroll either either APICS or CIPS to have more opportunities to finding a job in SCM?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *