Should I Get Certified?

Planning to take the CPPB or CPPO exams this fall? Wonder if the time and effort are worth it? NASPO is here to help!

If you are preparing to take the CPPB or CPPO exams check out the online prep courses available through NASPO. These courses are designed as a facilitated review of the UPPCC Body of Knowledge and can be accessed through the Procurement U Learning Management System (LMS).

The registration deadline for the fall courses is July 23.

Most professionals regularly ask themselves questions like, “How do I grow in my career?” or “How do I increase my credibility?” One of the most effective paths to achieving these goals is to obtain certification in your field. This is certainly the case in public procurement, where for decades certification has yielded benefits to the employee, their organization, and the profession as a whole.

For the employee achieving certification, benefits can include:


  • Professional recognition
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Professional certifications are earned by the individual and go with them wherever their professional path may take them.
  • Professional certifications stand out on resumes and can often be a factor in hiring and salary decisions.

For the employer, potential benefits include:

  • Increasing the professionalism, skills, and accountability of procurement staff
  • Producing better purchasing and contracting outcomes
  • Promoting recognition of staff as purchasing professionals
  • Providing professional development opportunities to staff and a defined path for continuous growth
  • Providing objective benchmarks for validating skills and competencies

Certification programs are available at the state and national levels. National certifications test the knowledge and skills of professionals on a broad public procurement level. Although, state certification programs may include foundational procurement elements, they are often tailored towards the role and expectations of a procurement professional in that state. Achieving both national and state levels of certification can be beneficial to the procurement officer by demonstrating a knowledge of both foundational and state-specific concepts.

Certification programs have been in place in some states for many years. The body of knowledge being taught and assessed within most state certification programs is heavily influenced by the statutory requirements, rules, and policies of that particular state. These certifications may be voluntary or required by statute.

For some examples of state certification programs, please follow the links below:

The Oklahoma Certified Procurement Officer Program

The Virginia Institute of Procurement (VIP)

At the national level, The Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC) provides a standard of competency for the public procurement profession. In 1978, NIGP: The Institute for Public Procurement and NASPO joined in chartering the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council (UPPCC). It serves as an independent entity formed to govern and administer the Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) certification programs. The UPPCC has certified over 10,000 professionals in the United States, Canada, and other countries.

The UPPCC Body of Knowledge is not based upon the individual competencies of one organization, but rather the best practices for the profession as a whole. The certification exams assess the candidates’ understanding of the Body of Knowledge. Each certification has its own requirements for eligibility and involves the completion of exam consisting of 190 multiple-choice questions. Upon successfully completing the CPPB or CPPO exam the UPPCC issues a credential to the new certificant that is valid for a period of five years. After that term, the certificant must renew the credential through the UPPCC recertification process. This process ensures that the certificant is continuing to participate in learning opportunities and developing professionally.

Obtaining any certification can require a great deal of time and preparation by the candidate. For voluntary or national certifications, organizations should encourage and support employees considering applying. This can include paying fees for certification, providing certification prep courses, providing a salary increase or other incentives, etc. For organizations that do not have the ability to provide monetary assistance or incentives, simply organizing a study group within the office can be beneficial.

However, the procurement officer must take the initiative to explore the requirements for obtaining certification and then begin the preparation process.  Through this pursuit the individual and the profession will continue to grow.

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