Many professionals reach a point in their career when they ask themselves: Should I get certified? Whether you work in IT or the healthcare industry, public procurement or supply chain management, we all know certifications matter. We also know that getting certified is a big-time commitment and requires financial resources.
But why is certification so important?
Earning a professional certification makes the credential holder more competitive on the job market and gives them credibility with their peers and within their industry. Certifications establish professional standards. Employers see value in certification credentials and take that into consideration when they select a candidate for the job. Others give promotions to those employees who have the appropriate skills and prove that they are taking their role and career seriously by seeking certifications. According to an NIGP study, The Value of Procurement Certification, 74% of the managers who work in public procurement and contract management agree they are more likely to hire an individual if he/she holds a public procurement and contract management or related certification. The same percentage of managers recognize certified individuals as experts.
What about Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) certifications?
When it comes to deciding where to get certified, there are many available options. There are a few public procurement and procurement-related certification credentials from several entities. Some states have developed their own certification programs, establishing standards for state procurement employees.
The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) is an independent certifying body that has provided two globally recognized certifications: Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) since the late 70s. The UPPCC proudly touts these two credentials as the “gold standard in public procurement certifications.” In fact, UPPCC has seen the applications for CPPO and CPPB certifications more than double over the last five years. The certifications are specifically designed for government procurement professionals and are also portable, as the CPPO and CPPB certifications are recognized in every state.
NASPO is proud to be a UPPCC founding partner and has encouraged state procurement professionals to seek certifications for over 35 years. During NASPO’s 2019 Annual Conference, two breakout sessions on certification were offered, which addressed the how and why getting a procurement certification benefits the public procurement professional, as well as the procurement office as a whole. Norma Hall, David Gragan and Bob Gleason teamed up for a presentation that highlighted the value of having a prestigious public procurement certification such as UPPCC’s CPPO and CPPB. The three speakers are very dedicated NASPO members who also have leadership roles in the UPPCC organization. Norma is a UPPCC non-voting advisory member. She served as the Chair of UPPCC Board of Directors (2008-2013) and is a former procurement leader with South Carolina’s Department of Transportation and Procurement Services. David is the Chief Learning Officer with the District of Columbia’s Office of Contracting and Procurement. Bob is the Senior Procurement Executive, Department of General Services, Maryland and currently serves on the UPPCC Governing Board and the NASPO Board of Directors.
Speaking about the whys of getting certified, Norma shared how having the UPPCC credential helped advance her career in public procurement. Certifications can also give you a sense of personal accomplishment.
David and Bob shared similar personal perspectives as current holders of the UPPCC credentials and procurement leaders in DC and Maryland respectively. They also spoke about the intrinsic drivers that can motivate someone to seek a professional certification, such as a commitment to the profession and desire for personal growth and continuous learning.
What’s in it for me?
There are numerous specific benefits of getting certified! These include:
Increased credibility with and acknowledgement by government, suppliers and contractors, and peers
Increased knowledge and skills
Enhanced value to the employer/employee
Career advancement and a defined path for continuous growth
Competitive marketing advantage
Demonstrated commitment to the profession
Public procurement leaders can help enact policies and talent management strategies that help with employee retention, such as salary increases for professionals who obtain a certification credential. As an example, in states like South Carolina and West Virginia, the Division of Personnel employs a discretionary policy allowing agencies to compensate employees who obtain a public procurement certification up to a 5% salary increase per certification credential.
David Gragan’s advice for CPOs and procurement leaders is to “lead from the front.” Set an example of excellence and procurement standards for your own employees. If you are not already certified, you should consider getting a public procurement credential and encourage those who report to you to also seek this professional recognition.
Is the UPPCC certification the right certification for me?
If your role involves planning, policy and oversight and you supervise public buyers or are a manager of public procurement functions, CPPO is the right credential for you. For buyers who perform regular public procurement functions who are not mangers or supervisors, CPPB is the perfect credential that will validate their qualifications against the UPPCC standards.
In July 2019, the UPPCC released new eligibility requirements, which are more inclusive and provide greater flexibility for people seeking the CPPO and CPPB.
For the CPPO credential, a bachelor’s degree is still the minimum requirement; however, the required contact hours have been reduced to 96 and the coursework/training requirement is more inclusive. Also, up to 50% of the current requirement of five years of procurement experience can now come from the private sector.
For the CPPB credential, requirements are also more inclusive, compared to the previous ones where only candidates with an associate degree or higher were considered, regardless of their procurement experience. Similar to the CPPO certification, up to 50% of the experience required for either option can now come from the private sector. See additional details here.
What if I am already certified? Are there any changes?
Similar to the changes announced by the UPPCC earlier this year, the recertification requirements have been updated to increase flexibility and recognize on-going employment experience.
There are a few improvements that certificants should be aware of:
A new category was added. Full-time public procurement experience (5 contact hours max) is now eligible for credit towards recertification at a rate of 1 contact hour per year with partial years pro-rated for credit. Only ongoing procurement experience in the public sector can earn contact hours towards recertification. Private, part-time, and consultant experience is excluded.
Certificants are no longer required to differentiate between accredited and non-accredited Continuing Education and Professional Development (unlimited contact hours). They have been merged into one Continuing Education and Professional Development category.
The requirement to earn contact hours across multiple categories has been removed. Certificants may now earn the required contact hours in the procurement experience, continuing education, or professional contributions.
UPPCC advises certificants to begin the recertification process as soon as possible and log activities regularly via the MyUPPCC account. This will allow the certificant to easily track their progress towards meeting the recertification requirements. Read more about the UPPCC recertification process and updated requirements here.
Can NASPO help with education offerings towards UPPCC certification or recertification?
NASPO offers prep courses for the UPPCC exam through its Procurement U professional development program. The next series will be offered in the Spring of 2020. Registration for the 2020 CPPO and CPPB Prep Courses opened October 21, 2019 and will close on February 17, 2020. The prep courses will run from March 1-May 3, 2020.
Additionally, Procurement U offers several online courses that can earn you contact hours toward your UPPCC certification. Contact ProcurementU@naspo.org to learn more about these continuous education opportunities.
For professionals who are interested in sitting for the CPPO or CPPB exam, check out the UPPCC homepage! Here you can find helpful information and upcoming exam dates and application deadlines.