APICS VS CIPS – What Should You Choose? [Revised & Updated]

07 Nov

Lot of Supply Chain and Procurement folks who are in the early stage of their ask me should they go for CIPS or APICS qualification. Depending on their career aspiration to either grows in Supply Chain in general or become a specialize procurement professional I give them advice accordingly.
Like most good things in life, there is no right or wrong answer, it is only a 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. I have also written a comparision for APICS vs ISM, which you will find useful.

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APICS vs. CIPS – Comparision Table


Background Information

APICS (changed their brand name to the Association for supply chain management), was founded in 1957 , and now has over 117,000 qualified with their certifications and now operates in 82 countries around the world. You can read more information here. 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 practices and is skillful 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. Here are reasons why you should think of doing CPIM.


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 – The 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 exams.


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 of 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 individuals do not have a degree but have 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.


The 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 is above £1000


The  CPIM exam:

Candidates must pass two CPIM exams within three years in order to become certified.

The CPIM program consists of five modules with two exams, one for Part 1 and one for Part 2. Each module reflects critical areas in production and inventory management.

Part 1:

Module 1 – Basics of Supply Chain Management

Number of exam questions – 150 (130 operational and 20 pretest*)
Length of exam – 3.5 hours

PLUS member price: $495 – Or purchase the CPIM Bundle.
CORE member/nonmember price: $690
Retake price: $250

Part 2:

Module 1 – Strategic Management of Resources
Module 2 – Master Planning of Resources
Module 3 – Detailed Scheduling and Planning
Module 4 – Execution and Control of Operations

Number of exam questions – 150 (130 operational and 20 pretest*) each module weighing 25%
Length of exam – 3.5 hours

PLUS member price: $495
CORE member/nonmember price: $690
Retake price: $250


The CIPS exam has

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

3 hours


Throughout the year

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

(Could be exempt from some certificates or exams)

Topics Covered

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

Module 1 – Supply Chain Design
Module 2 – Supply Chain Planning and Execution
Module 3 – Supply Chain Improvements and Best Practices

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 offers 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 centers 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 to 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.

ere 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

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