The right certifications can help you get ahead in your industry. These five are a great place to start.
A shrewd business professional looks for ways to move up (or over) to improve their salary, benefits and job opportunities. One way to reach that goal is by getting a business certification. Whether you're just starting out in a professional track or have been at it for a while, you should find one or more of the certifications described in this article of interest and value.
Top five certifications, by the numbers
The following table lists top business-related certifications and the number of open positions on a single day that call for the certification specifically or experience with the technology. This isn't a scientific analysis in which every job description is examined, just an overall glance at search numbers.
Job site search results
|Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)||555||599||1,154|
|Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)||314||343||657|
|Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)||367||433|
|Project Management Professional (PMP)||12,742||14,441||27,183|
|SAP Certified Application Associate - Business Planning and Consolidation||483||1,193||1,676|
The following sections provide details of top business certifications according to job site searches as well as other certifications offered by the various organizations.
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
The Project Management Institute (PMI) has been around since 1969, helping business workers develop careers in project management, mainly through professional development and certifications.
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is ideal for up-and-coming PMs. You need to show proof of a high school diploma, associate's degree or a global equivalent. The single exam has 150 questions, costs $225 for PMI members or $300 for nonmembers and is available through Pearson VUE. By the time you sit for the exam, you need to have gained 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of PM education. The certification is valid for five years, and candidates must retake the exam to maintain the credential.
PMI has other certifications aimed at the business community, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP), Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA), PfMP Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP), Program Management Professional (PgMP) and PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP).
Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
If you're interested in analyzing business needs and coming up with solutions, take a look at the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). The CBAP is an advanced-level certification aimed at managers and leaders with more than five years of business analysis experience. More precisely, you need at least 7,500 hours of business analysis experience gained over the last decade. Of those, 900 hours must be directly related to four of the six BABOK Guide Version 3 knowledge areas. On top of that, you need a least 35 hours of professional development credits (earned over the last four years), plus references.
The CBAP exam has 120 multiple-choice questions, based on a case study, and is available through Prometric. The exam costs $325 for IIBA members or $450 for nonmembers, and a $125 application fee is required.
Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
APICS is all about supply chain management. As part of its goal to develop qualified operators, supervisors and leaders, APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) as well as a few other certifications. The CSCP covers supply chain concepts and technology, plus strategies needed for end-to-end operations, from supplier to company to consumer.
To earn the CSCP, you need a bachelor's degree or equivalent, at least one other approved certification and at least three years of related business experience. You also need to pass an exam that costs $695 to $915, depending on your APICS membership status.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Professional (PMP) from PMI is among the most recognized and sought-after certifications for both business and IT. The requirements are stiff. Option one requires a high school diploma, associate's degree or global equivalent, 7,500 hours of experience leading projects and 35 hours of PM education. Option two is a four-year degree, 4,500 hours leading projects and 35 hours of PM education. [Read related article on our sister site Tom’s IT Pro: Best Project Management Certifications]
You must pass a 200-question exam to earn the PMP, which is available through Pearson VUE. The exam costs $405 for PMI members ($555 for nonmembers). You maintain the PMP certification by earning 60 professional development units (PDUs) every three years.
SAP Certified Application Associate - Business Planning and Consolidation
Are you SAP savvy? SAP, a European multinational software program, is German for systems, applications and products. It is used to manage business operations and customer relationships. The SAP Certified Application Associate - Business Planning and Consolidation certification recognizes a consultant's skills in using the Business Planning and Consolidation software as part of a project. SAP recommends that candidates have three years of experience although training is available if needed. The single exam has 80 questions and costs $500. You can take the exam through Pearson VUE.
The American Purchasing Society, a membership organization, is behind the Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP) as well as the Certified Professional Purchasing Manager (CPPM), the Certified Green Purchasing Professional (CGPP), the Certified Professional in Distribution and Warehousing (CPDW) and the Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant (CPPC).
If your career involves the creation, use, retrieval and disposal of business records, check out the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM) Certified Records Analyst (CRA) and Certified Records Manager (CRM) certifications.
On the global front, the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) offers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification, and NASBITE's Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) focuses on global business management and marketing, supply chain management, and trade finance.