Frequently Asked Certification Questions

Answers to common questions about the SPSM ® Certification


Q:  I want to earn a purchasing management certification. Where can I learn more about the SPSM® Certification and the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  You can find a comprehensive description of the Senior Professional in Supply Management®Program, how it works, and the benefits of earning your SPSM® Certification on our Certification page.

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Q:  I've decided to pursue my SPSM® Certification. How do I get started?

A:  If you want to enroll online using a credit card, click here.

If you want to enroll using another method, print the form found by clicking here, complete it, and send it to us with your payment or purchase order.

You will receive an email with your username, password, and instructions within 24 hours of our receipt of your registration. You can begin immediately after receiving this email!

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Q:  What are the benefits of earning the SPSM® Certification?

A:  Next Level Purchasing realizes that employers and purchasing professionals alike want more than just a purchasing management certification to show for their investment. That's why the SPSM® Certification is designed to produce measurable benefits to both employers and purchasing professionals alike.

Purchasing professionals who have earned the SPSM® Certification report that they have reaped these benefits:

  • Getting better jobs
  • Getting more respect
  • Getting excellent performance evaluations
  • Getting large pay increases
Employers who enroll their purchasing employees in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program can be assured that their purchasing staff will be able to:
  • Save more money
  • Do a better and more efficient job of supporting operations
  • Minimize and manage risk
  • Function more independently, freeing up management to focus on more strategic work

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Q:  How do I earn the SPSM® Certification?

A:  Earning your SPSM® Certification is a three-step process:

Step 1 - Pass the six online courses of the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program

Step 2 - Pass the SPSM® Exam

Step 3 - Submit an application

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Q:  Which courses do I need to pass to be eligible to take the SPSM® Exam?

A:  You need to pass these six courses:

  1. Mastering Purchasing Fundamentals
  2. Microsoft Excel For Purchasing Professionals
  3. Supply Management Contract Writing
  4. Powerful Negotiation For Successful Buying
  5. 14 Purchasing Best Practices
  6. Savings Strategy Development

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Q:  Do you offer group discounts for several people from one company to enroll in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program at one time?

A:  Yes. If you have a group of four or more purchasing professionals who wish to earn their SPSM® Certification, please send an email to us and tell us how many people you wish to enroll. We'll tell you how large of a discount you qualify for.

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Q:  When can I begin my studies in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  The Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program is available on an "on-demand" basis. Within 24 hours of our receipt of your registration, you will receive an email with your username, password, and instructions. You can begin immediately after receiving this email!

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Q:  How well-recognized is the SPSM® Certification?

A:  The SPSM® Certification is globally recognized for being the most modern, high-quality purchasing management certification. Some things to consider when evaluating the recognition of a purchasing management certification are:

First, what employers are enrolling their purchasing employees in the certification program?

Second, what employers are seeking to employ individuals with the purchasing management certification?

Third, what are people saying about the certification?

For the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program, prestigious organizations - including many Fortune 500 companies - from throughout North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia have enrolled their purchasing professionals in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program. See our "Who We Educate" page for names of such organizations.

Prestigious organizations also regularly place employment ads containing the words "SPSM® Certification preferred." This demonstrates the degree to which the top organizations in the world value the capabilities that SPSM®-certified purchasing professionals can bring. Our "Jobs For SPSM's" page is constantly updated with new purchasing positions.

And those who investigate or participate in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program rave about its value. This is most evident in the testimonials from satisfied students that are placed throughout our Web site and the "SPSM® Certification Success Stories" section of our site, as well as in published articles such as Purchasing Magazine's article "Online Education Provider Gets High Marks From Buyers" and Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine's article " Tools For Professional Excellence".

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Q:  How long will it take me to complete the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  Though you have up to two years to complete the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program, the program is totally self-paced. This means that the more time you can dedicate to your studies each week, the faster you'll earn this valuable purchasing management certification.

For example, if you are able to dedicate one hour per week to your studies, you will complete the program in about one year. If you can dedicate two hours per week, you will finish in about six months. If you can dedicate four hours per week, you will finish in three months. If you can dedicate more time, you can finish even quicker!

The average SPSM finishes the program in about six months. A handful of SPSM's have completed the program in less than 60 days.

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Q:  Is the SPSM® Certification recognized in my country?

A:  The SPSM® Certification is a globally recognized purchasing management certification and is rapidly increasing in its recognition. Prestigious organizations from throughout North America (including Canada), South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia have enrolled their purchasers in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program. Click here to view the success of Next Level Purchasing students from around the world.

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Q:  If I fail the SPSM® Exam, can I take it again?

A:  Yes. There is a nominal fee to retake the SPSM® Exam. Also, to ensure the integrity of the SPSM® Exam, you will be given a different version of the SPSM® Exam each time that you take it.

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Q:  Do I need a degree or a certain number of years experience to earn the SPSM® Certification?

A:  No. While Next Level Purchasing recognizes the value of higher education and lots of experience, we have found that there is not a perfect correlation between education and/or experience and success in the purchasing profession. There are a large number of purchasing professionals who do not have degrees yet still deliver great results for their employers. We have also found that many sharp individuals with just a few years of experience outperform some of their peers who have decades of experience. Therefore, we think that it would be unfair to definitively exclude candidates from certification consideration based on their education and experience levels if they prove to be capable of performing at a high level within the purchasing profession. We welcome you and will appreciate the opportunity to help you have a rewarding career.

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Q:  Do I need to go to a testing facility to take the SPSM® Exam or can I take it online?

A:  You can take the SPSM® Exam from anywhere you have a computer and an Internet connection.

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Q:  The Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program consists of six online courses. Can I just pay for one course at a time?

A:  Yes. This is called our Pay-As-You-Go Certification Plan. You can read more about the Pay-As-You-Go Certification Plan at our page entitled "Supply Chain Certification".

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Q:  If I sign up for the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program, will I also have to purchase additional textbooks or other materials?

A:  No. All of the materials you need will be provided in our introductory email and within the online classes themselves.

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Q:  What is included in the price I pay for enrollment in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  Your enrollment in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program includes complete access to all six online classes of the program, all of the materials you need to pass the classes and the SPSM® Exam, one opportunity to take the SPSM® Exam, a waiver of the certification application fee, creation and shipping of your SPSM® certificate, and creation and shipping of your engraved award. If you sign up for the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program, the only potential additional cost you may incur for your original certification is the nominal cost to retake the SPSM® Exam if you fail it. If you pass the SPSM® Exam on your first attempt, you will not be charged any additional fees for your original certification.

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Q:  I live outside of the United States and do not have a credit card. How can I enroll in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  Most of our students from outside of the United States pay with a check/cheque, international money order, or ACH, or bank draft in US currency. One of these instruments should be easily obtainable from your local bank. Simply complete the form found by clicking here and either mail it to us with your payment or fax the form to 1-412-294-1992. Within 24 hours of our receipt of your registration and payment, you will receive an email with your username, password, and instructions. You can begin immediately after receiving this email!

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Q:  What payment options do I have when pursuing my SPSM® Certification?

A:  You have three payment options:

Option #1 – SPSM® Certification Program. This is the least expensive option. You pay a single fee of $1149 (US) upon registration. This fee covers everything you need to become certified.

Option #2 – SPSM® Certification & Enhanced Results Program with iPad. This option provides you with the most comprehensive collection of study materials. You pay a single fee of $1999 upon registration. It includes everything provided in the SPSM® Certification Program, plus additional optional study components such as the SPSM® Multimedia Study & Implementation Guide (preloaded onto a new iPad), an eBook, and more.

Option #3 - Pay-As-You-Go Certification Plan. This option allows you to keep your individual payments to $229 or less. It is more expensive than the SPSM® Certification Program, but does allow you to spread out your payments over a longer period of time if you need that flexibility. Complete details about the Pay-As-You-Go Certification Plan can be found at our page entitled "Supply Chain Certification".

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Q:  I used to be in purchasing but have been working in another field. Will earning the SPSM® Certification help me return to purchasing?

A:  With constant downsizing in both good economic times and bad, many very talented purchasing professionals are finding themselves looking for work. If you are looking for an open purchasing job, you are facing stiff competition. And, if you've been out of the purchasing profession for a while, your competitors are likely more up-to-date on newer purchasing management practices such as eProcurement, reverse auctions, strategic sourcing, and supplier relationship management. You are at a severe disadvantage.

However, the SPSM® Certification will give you a thorough understanding of all of the latest purchasing management practices. Plus, you will have a designation that will separate you from the competition. All in all, the SPSM® Certification can indeed help you break back into a very competitive profession.

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Q:  How will I receive the certificate after I earn my SPSM® Certification?

A:  You will receive your certificate by postal mail.

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Q:  Once I earn my SPSM® Certification, how do I maintain my certification?

A:  Recertification is required every four years. Recertification involves earning 32 Continuing Education Hours in purchasing and supply management topics from approved sources. Pre-approved sources include Next Level Purchasing, ProcureCon, the Institute for Supply Management, and APICS. Continuing Education Hours earned by attending the procurement conferences listed here will also count towards recertification. Other sources will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Next Level Purchasing will contact you annually around the date of your certification anniversary to remind you when you are due to recertify. Recertification involves submitting an application and a nominal processing fee.

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Q:  Do you offer lifetime certification?

A:  No. To maintain the SPSM® Certification as the most modern and globally recognized purchasing management certification, we require that you continually keep yourself up-to-date on the latest purchasing management practices. As an SPSM®, employers will know that you are skilled in the most modern purchasing management practices.

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Q:  Can I take the classes of the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program in a live environment?

A:  No. To maintain the SPSM® Certification as the most modern and globally recognized purchasing management certification, it is imperative that all of our students from everywhere in the world get their education from a single source - our online classroom. This will give employers the assurance that, no matter where in the world you are located, you got the same high-quality education and met the same high standards as all other SPSM's.

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Q:  Do you have a location in my country?

A:  Next Level Purchasing has a single office location in the United States. Our online classroom is used by purchasing professionals from throughout North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. As such, there is no need to have a separate location in each country.

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Q:  Can I use my VA benefits/the GI Bill to fund some of my certification expenses?

A:  Yes. In April, 2007, Next Level Purchasing had received official notice that it has been approved for Veterans Education under the provisions of Title 38, United States Code, Section 3689. This entitles qualified veterans to be reimbursed for their expenses incurred for the SPSM® Exam.

Please note that for licensing and certification, the GI Bill only reimburses veterans for the cost of exams, not for the cost of courses associated with a certification. For the SPSM® Exam to be billed as a separate line item, you must pursue your SPSM® Certification through the Pay-As-You-Go Certification Plan. You may find it less expensive to enroll in the SPSM® Certification Program at an all-inclusive price and forgo your VA benefits although it is important to note that the GI Bill will reimburse you for all testing fees (up to a certain threshold) even if you fail the SPSM® Exam.

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Q:  Can I apply credits from my experience, a degree, or another certification towards the requirements for SPSM® Certification?

A:  Your past education and experience is likely to help you with some of the material in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program. However, in order to maintain the SPSM® Certification as the most modern, most globally recognized purchasing management certification available, we are unable to accept credits earned through other means.

While this policy may disappoint you at the moment, it would actually help you if you were to earn your SPSM® Certification. Employers will value your certification because they'll know you really earned it without taking any shortcuts or receiving any special accommodations. Your certification will be 100% based on the latest global purchasing management practices, not a mix of today's practices and yesterday's practices or national practices and global practices.

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Q:  To be reimbursed for my purchasing certification fees, I require documentation of my score expressed as a letter grade or GPA. Can Next Level Purchasing provide this?

A:  Yes, but this information is not provided by default.

Since inception, we've required the SPSM® candidate to get at least 63 out of 90 questions correct on the SPSM® Exam to pass it. After passing the SPSM® Exam, the candidate will have the option to request a signed letter on our letterhead documenting their achievement of a letter grade or Grade Point Average (GPA) for the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program. So, the certified candidate must contact Next Level Purchasing to specifically request such a letter.

The letter grade or GPA will be based on the number of questions the candidate answered correctly on the SPSM® Exam as follows:

SPSM Exam Score Letter Grade GPA
84 - 90A4.0
77 - 83B3.0
70 - 76C2.0
63 - 69D1.0
Less than 63F0.0

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Q:  Is Next Level Purchasing affiliated with a professional association?

A:  Yes. Next Level Purchasing is an official Educational Partner of the National Contract Management Association. In addition, the Continuing Education Hours that Next Level Purchasing awards are recognized by several other professional bodies and government agencies.

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Q:  What topics are covered in the Senior Professional in Supply Management® Program?

A:  All of the most modern, critical purchasing and supply management topics are covered in the program. Click here to download a 23-page index of topics.

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Q:  How does the SPSM2 CertiFication Relate To The SPSM® Certification?

A:  Once you have earned your SPSM Certification, you are eligible to pursue the higher-level SPSM2 Certification. Earning the SPSM2 Certification will satisfy 100% of the SPSM Certification's recertification requirements, so many SPSM's who plan to recertify will choose to do so by earning the SPSM2 Certification. Because the SPSM2 is valid for a four-year period, earning it also recertifies you for the SPSM Certification; the two certifications become linked. Recertifying for the SPSM2 automatically recertifies you for the SPSM and both will have the same expiration date. Plus, you get to add to the credentials you use after your name. For example, either of the following is a correct use of the credentials: "Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2" or simply "Charles Dominick, SPSM2." Just for the sake of clarity, the SPSM2 is available in addition to the SPSM. The SPSM2 is not a replacement for the SPSM, just another level, similar to a master's degree being a higher level of achievement compared to a bachelor's degree. Individuals applying for SPSM2 Certification must be a currently certified SPSM in good-standing at the time of application (applicants who have allowed their original SPSM Certification to expire will not be eligible to earn the SPSM2 Certification).

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