Sime Curkovic is a Professor of Supply Chain Management at Western Michigan University. He received his undergraduate degree in Management Systems from GMI Engineering & Management Institute (now known as Kettering University). He received his Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University. Dr. Curkovic has taught several courses in sourcing, operations, logistics, and multinational management. His research interests include environmentally responsible manufacturing, total quality management, supply chain management, and integrated global strategic sourcing. Dr. Curkovic’s publications have appeared and/or are under review in the International Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, the Decision Sciences Journal, the Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Production Research, and the Journal of Quality Management. Dr. Curkovic’s previous work experiences were with General Motors in the Midwest, Mexico, and Germany. Dr. Curkovic is a born U.S. citizen, and his name is of Croatian descent.
My colleagues and I put this list together for multiple business disciplines. Data shows that people earn more and have more job security if they become engaged members of their professional discipline. One way to do that is to join industry specific associations related to their majors. Further, these associations often have certifications that externally validate you as a subject matter expert.
Industry Certifications and Associations for Various Business Majors and Disciplines
CIS and Business Analytics
There are plenty. Here is a list of a few:
- Google’s certifications on analytics, big data, cloud, data science, machine learning, etc.
- Amazon’s certifications on cloud, big data, data science, machine learning, etc.
- Microsoft certifications on Excel, PowerBI, Azure, cloud, Data science, machine learning, database, etc.
- International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)
- Other vendor specific certifications, such as big data databases (e.g., MongoDB, Casandra, etc.), relational database, etc.
- Many industry conferences. For a small list, see:
Amazon’s reinvent conference and AWS Summit are good ones also. There are other large ones by Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, and other big name technology companies.
- Project Management Professionals. Certifications include PMP, CAPM, etc. Either CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager) or PMP (Project Management Professional) is fine. The main difference between the two is that CAPM is an entry level certification with no requirement of experience leading projects. PMP requires that. Both certifications require the person to take a formal training in project management using PMBOK. We have a project management class at WMU called CIS 3620 which allows students to satisfy the training requirement. Training can also be obtained somewhere else. Without training, they will not let you sit in the exam.
We also offer graduate CIS certificates. For example:
WMU Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics
WMU Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security
This requires 15 credit hours and offers two tracks: cybersecurity management or secure software and engineering. Customize your program based on the track that will best accelerate your career.
For marketing, there are several certifications offered through the American Marketing Association:
There are also various marketing research associations that offer continuing education and certifications for those wanting to get into that specific area of marketing (like a CRA, Certified Research Analyst). See:
For Advertising + Promotion, unless you get heavy into digital, there isn’t anything other than a project management certification (see above). Coursera offers all sorts of classes that anyone can pick up to enhance or fill gaps. Nothing beats experience though. Participating in relevant internships, external case competitions, and other experiential learning opportunities are usually enough to validate themselves. Note, our Advertising and Promotion major is among the only 10% of advertising programs housed within a university business college, offering the best mix of marketing, communication & business fundamentals.
Also, there are niche marketing certifications. For example, we have a Food Marketing Category Management Certification. The Professional Category Management Certification offered by WMU and LE is the only university-based category management certification program on the market today that offers industry professionals advanced category management skills.
Human Resources Management
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, is a 300,000+ member international organization for HR professionals that provides several different types of resources, training, and networking opportunities for members. They have affiliate chapters throughout the world at the State and Local levels (i.e., MISHRM and KHRMA for Michigan and Kalamazoo), as well as student chapters (our own Western Michigan University SEHR).
SHRM offers two levels of certification: the SHRM-CP (certified professional) exam and the SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional) exam. If students come out of a college program aligned with the SHRM Body of Skills and Applied Knowledge (BASK), they can take the CP exam as soon as they have 500 hours of work experience. Some of our students who have had internships are able to take the SHRM-CP before they graduate. Our HRM major is one of a few programs recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management as having a curriculum consistent with their Body of Competency and Knowledge guidelines.
The major organization is the CFA Institute for individuals wanting to earn and hold the CFA designation, (the focus is on investment analysis, etc.) and the CFP Board for those wanting to earn the CFP designation (to work with individual retail customers on financial planning).
Personal Financial Planning: Financial Planning Association at:
There are many different avenues under the finance umbrella. Most of these have some type of certification. This page provides a primer on some of the more common designations: https://www.fma.org/finance-certifications
This is a tough one. Salespeople prefer to join other associations where customers hang out. Being with other salespeople is not necessarily helping them sell anything.
Our Sales and Business Marketing degree at WMU is actually more advanced than most industry training programs, so there is no real benefit in spending more money to earn an unneeded certification for our students. Sales results are the only certification worth anything. Produce and thrive or don’t and don’t. Our sales program has been nationally ranked as one of the best university sales program since 2007. See:
There are a lot in accounting. For example, the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is the most widely recognized certification, followed closely by the CMA (Certified Management Accountant). Some of the other certifications are:
CIA (certified internal auditor)
CFA (certified forensic accountant)
CGMA (chartered global management accountant)
The AICPA (Association of International Certified Public Accountants) is for the CPA, the IMA (The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business) is for the CMA, and the AICPA is working to expand into management accounting with the CGMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant). Note, our accounting program is a 1% of business schools worldwide that have additional specialized AACSB accreditation.
Business Law: American Bar Association (that’s all I have).
For digital marketing, there is no widely accepted industry organization, possibly because half of the people in the industry are self-taught, but there are quite a few localized organizations that seek to bring people together with regularity. Our students at WMU will actually be helping launch a Kalamazoo-based professional group. “Kalamazoo Digital Media Meetups” will become a quarterly event for professionals in the southwest Michigan area. There are many different certifications, but none are industry standards.
There are all sorts of Digital Marketing “related” certificates, but HubSpot offers all sorts of certifications, as do many of the individual social media platforms or CRM software (like Facebook or Salesforce). Google Analytics has always been a popular one to suggest that students can do anytime, but they are changing their measurement solutions in 2023. See:
Note, you can major in Digital Marketing & eCommerce at WMU (one of our fastest growing majors). WMU is one of the only schools in the country to offer a dedicated SEO course that helps students get hands-on experience publishing high-quality content on their own niche websites. https://wmich.edu/dme
Supply Chain Management
Certified Professional in Supply Management
Certified Supply Chain Certification (CSCP)
Certified in Planning and Inventory Management (CPIM)
Certified in Logistics, Transportation & Distribution (CLTD)
Leading the way with Lean Six Sigma: WMU students can earn certification. The ability to get certified in continuous improvement methodologies and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) techniques all before graduation is just one-way students in the WMU Haworth College of Business are preparing to become business leaders. A group of 13 graduate and 20 undergraduate students across the college’s academic programs had the opportunity to earn their LSS Yellow Belt Certifications this semester.
What if an employer asks why, you joined an industry association? Answer: Say, “I wanted to stay current in my field. Also, down the road after graduation, I want to use these organizations to network and pursue certifications that externally validates me as a subject matter expert in my discipline.”
I would give serious consideration to these moving forward in your careers. In fact, for some of these, you can join while still in college. They tend to be free and cheap for college students and allow you to professionally network before you even graduate. I think you want to send a message to employers that you want to stay current in your field and joining these organizations allows you to do so (and you can place it on your resume). Further send the message that when you graduate, you look forward to being an engaged member of these organizations and even taking on leadership roles.