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Top 10 Retail Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top retail certifications that can help professionals advance their careers in the retail industry.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for retail in the job market because they demonstrate an individual's commitment to professional development. They provide evidence of specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities that can be beneficial to employers. Certifications demonstrate a worker's dedication to their profession and can help them stand out from other applicants. Employers may also prefer candidates who have certifications when filling positions, as it shows that the individual is qualified for the role and has taken the initiative to gain additional qualifications. In addition, certifications may offer employees access to exclusive discounts and offers from suppliers and manufacturers, which can increase profits and save businesses money.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Retails and explains how they can help an individual advance their career in the retail industry.

What are Retail Certifications?

Retail certification is a process in which retailers are evaluated and certified by an independent third party to ensure they meet certain standards of quality, compliance, safety, and customer service. This certification can be beneficial to both customers and retailers alike as it provides assurance that the retailer meets specific criteria for providing satisfactory products and services.

For customers, retail certification can provide peace of mind that the retailer is reliable and trustworthy. The certification also ensures that products are safe, of good quality, and comply with all applicable laws. Additionally, retailers who have been certified demonstrate a commitment to customer service excellence, meaning customers can expect a positive experience when shopping with them.

For retailers, certifications can help them stand out from their competitors by demonstrating their level of professionalism and commitment to quality standards. It may also lead to increased sales as customers are more likely to purchase from certified retailers than those without certification. Additionally, having a retail certification may open up new opportunities for the retailer such as access to larger suppliers or potential partnerships with other businesses.

Pro Tip: If you are working in the retail industry, getting a certification in customer service or sales can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the field and increase your job prospects. Additionally, certifications can provide you with valuable hands-on experience that can help you better understand customer needs and improve your skills on the job.

Related: What does a Retail do?

Top 10 Retail Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Retails today.

1. Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM)

Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize retail professionals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in the retail industry. The CPRM certification is offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry-leading organization dedicated to advancing the retail industry through education, research, and advocacy.

The CPRM certification program consists of two parts: an online exam and an on-site assessment. The online exam covers topics such as retail operations, customer service, marketing, finance, human resources management, and technology. The on-site assessment includes a series of interviews with subject matter experts in the areas of retail operations, customer service, marketing, finance, human resources management, and technology.

The CPRM certification typically takes 6-12 months to complete depending on the individual’s experience and commitment to completing the program requirements. To get started with the CPRM certification program applicants must first submit an application form along with a fee of $299 USD. After submitting their application they will receive access to NRF’s online learning platform where they can begin studying for the exam. Once applicants have successfully completed both parts of the program they will receive their official CPRM certificate from NRF.

2. Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP)

Certified Retail Sales Professional (CRSP) is a certification program designed to recognize and reward retail sales professionals who have demonstrated excellence in their field. The CRSP program was created by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in partnership with the Council of Retail Specialists (CRS).

The CRSP certification is a comprehensive program that covers topics such as customer service, product knowledge, sales techniques, and store operations. It also includes an online assessment to measure the candidate's knowledge and skills. To become certified, candidates must pass the assessment with a score of 70% or higher.

The CRSP certification requires approximately 40 hours of study time to complete. The cost of the course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $500-$1000 USD. Candidates must also pay an annual fee for their certification which is currently set at $150 USD per year.

To get certified, interested individuals can contact one of NRF’s approved providers or take an online course through CRS University. Once they have completed their studies and passed the assessment, they will receive their certificate and be eligible to use the CRSP designation on business cards and resumes.

3. Certified Retail Manager (CRM)

Certified Retail Manager (CRM) is a professional certification program that provides retail professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive retail industry. The CRM program is offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, and it is recognized as the premier certification for retail managers.

The CRM program consists of three parts: an online self-study course, a comprehensive exam, and a final project. The online self-study course covers topics such as customer service, marketing, operations management, financial management, and more. The comprehensive exam tests your knowledge of the material covered in the course. Finally, the final project requires you to apply what you have learned to develop a plan for improving a real-world retail business.

It typically takes about six months to complete all three components of the CRM program. To get started, you must first register for the program on the NRF website and pay an application fee of $150 USD. After registering, you will be given access to the online self-study course and can begin working through it at your own pace. Once you have completed all three components successfully, you will receive your Certified Retail Manager certificate from NRF.

The total cost of obtaining your Certified Retail Manager certification is approximately $750 USD including registration fees and any additional materials or resources needed to complete the program.

4. Certified Store Manager (CSM)

Certified Store Manager (CSM) is a professional certification for retail store managers. This certification is designed to help store managers increase their knowledge, skills and abilities in areas such as customer service, sales, inventory management, personnel management and financials. It also helps them develop the leadership skills necessary to be successful in their role.

The CSM program consists of three levels: Certified Store Manager (CSM), Advanced Certified Store Manager (ACSM), and Master Certified Store Manager (MCSM). Each level requires the completion of various courses and exams.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete the CSM program depending on the individual’s commitment to completing the coursework and passing the exams.

To get started on the path towards becoming a CSM, individuals must first register with an accredited provider such as National Retail Federation or American Management Association. After registering, individuals will receive access to online courses which they must complete before taking the corresponding exam.

The cost of becoming a CSM varies depending on which provider you choose and what type of package you purchase. Generally speaking, it costs around $500-$1,000 for all three levels of certification.

5. Certified Retail Associate (CRA)

Certified Retail Associate (CRA) is a professional certification program offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to help retail professionals gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive retail environment. The CRA certification program covers topics such as customer service, sales, merchandising, inventory management, and store operations.

It typically takes about 6-8 weeks to complete the CRA certification program. To get started, you must first register for the course online or through your local NRF office. You will then need to complete an online assessment that tests your knowledge of retail fundamentals and industry trends. After completing the assessment, you will be given access to an online portal where you can review study materials and take practice exams. Once you have successfully completed all of the required courses and exams, you will receive your official CRA certificate.

The cost of the CRA certification program varies depending on whether you are taking it online or through a local NRF office. Generally speaking, it costs around $500-$600 for online courses and $800-$1000 for in-person courses.

6. Certified Loss Prevention Specialist (CLPS)

A Certified Loss Prevention Specialist (CLPS) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in the field of loss prevention. This certification is designed to recognize those individuals who have achieved a certain level of proficiency in the areas of asset protection, risk management, and security.

The CLPS certification is offered by the Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF), an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the loss prevention profession through education and research. The program consists of a series of courses that cover topics such as retail security, shoplifting detection and apprehension, inventory control, fraud prevention, safety and emergency procedures, and more.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to complete all the courses required for the CLPS certification. The cost for the program varies depending on how many courses you take at once; however, it generally ranges from $500-$1,000 USD for all four courses. In addition to completing the coursework, applicants must also pass an exam to become certified.

Once certified, CLPS professionals can demonstrate their commitment to excellence in loss prevention by displaying their credentials on resumes or business cards. They can also use their certification as evidence of their expertise when applying for jobs or promotions within the industry.

7. Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM)

Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM) is a professional certification program designed to equip visual merchandisers with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to create effective and impactful store layouts. It is an intensive course that covers topics such as store layout design, product placement, signage, lighting, and other visual elements. The program consists of both online and in-person instruction from experienced professionals in the field.

It typically takes about six months to complete the CVM program. During this time, you will be expected to complete assignments and exams that test your knowledge of the material covered in the course. Additionally, you may have to attend workshops or seminars on various aspects of visual merchandising.

To get certified as a Visual Merchandiser, you must first complete an accredited CVM program. There are several schools and institutions offering courses for this certification; however, it is important to research each one thoroughly before enrolling in order to ensure that they are reputable and offer quality instruction.

The cost of obtaining a CVM certification varies depending on the institution offering it; however, most programs range from $1000-$3000 USD. Additionally, some employers may offer tuition assistance or reimbursements for employees who obtain their CVM certification.

8. Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP)

Certified Customer Service Professional (CCSP) is a professional certification that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated their knowledge and skills in the customer service field. It is designed to help customer service professionals stay current with industry trends, best practices, and technology.

The CCSP certification is offered by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA). In order to receive the certification, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as customer service fundamentals, communication skills, problem solving and resolution techniques, customer relations management, and more.

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and can be taken online or at a testing center. The cost of the exam varies depending on location but typically ranges from $150-$200 USD.

In order to prepare for the exam, ICSA offers several study materials such as practice tests, webinars, workshops, and study guides. Additionally, they provide resources such as job postings and career advice for those looking to further their careers in customer service.

Once certified, individuals will receive a digital badge that can be used on social media profiles or resumes to demonstrate their expertise in customer service. The certification is valid for three years and requires recertification every three years in order to maintain it.

9. National Retail Federation Certification Program

The National Retail Federation (NRF) Certification Program is a comprehensive certification program that recognizes excellence in retail operations. It is designed to provide retailers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage their business. The program consists of three levels: Certified Retailer, Advanced Retailer, and Master Retailer.

To become certified, candidates must first complete an online application and submit it with all required documents. Once approved, the candidate will be assigned a mentor who will guide them through the certification process. This includes completing online courses, attending seminars and workshops, passing exams, and submitting a portfolio of completed projects. The entire process typically takes between six months to one year to complete.

The cost of the NRF Certification Program varies depending on the level of certification you are seeking. For example, the Certified Retailer level costs $1,500 while the Advanced Retailer level costs $2,000 and the Master Retailer level costs $3,000.

In addition to these fees, there may also be additional costs associated with travel expenses for attending seminars or workshops as well as other miscellaneous expenses related to completing the program requirements.

10. International Council of Shopping Centers Certification Program

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Certification Program is a comprehensive program designed to provide retail professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the retail industry. The program consists of three levels: Certified Shopping Center Manager (CSCM), Certified Shopping Center Leasing Professional (CSCLP), and Certified Shopping Center Development Professional (CSDDP).

How Long Does It Take To Get ICSC Certification?

It typically takes between one and two years to complete the entire ICSC certification program. Each level has its own set of courses and exams that must be completed in order to earn certification.

How To Get ICSC Certification?

To get ICSC certification, you must first apply for membership in the organization. After joining, you will need to complete a series of courses and exams that are specific to each level. Once all courses and exams have been successfully completed, you will receive your certificate from ICSC.

How Much Does ICSC Certification Cost?

The cost of the ICSC certification program varies depending on which level you are pursuing. Generally speaking, it costs around $1,000 for the CSCM level, $2,500 for CSCLP, and $3,500 for CSDDP.

Do You Really Need a Retail Certificate?

Yes, you do need a retail certificate if you want to open and operate a retail business. A retail certificate is an official document that proves that you have met all the legal requirements for operating a store in your local area. This includes obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, paying taxes, and following other regulations. Without this certificate, it would be impossible to legally conduct business as a retailer.

Having a retail certificate also helps set your business apart from others in the industry. It shows potential customers that you are serious about running your business in an ethical manner. Customers are more likely to trust businesses that have taken the time to obtain these certificates than those who haven’t. This can help increase customer loyalty and lead to repeat purchases from them in the future.

Finally, having a retail certificate can make it easier for you to secure financing when needed. Banks and other lenders often require proof of legal compliance when considering loan applications. With a valid retail certificate on hand, it will be much easier for them to approve your request for funding.

In short, having a retail certificate is essential if you want to run an honest and successful business in the retail industry. It signals legitimacy and professionalism while providing access to additional resources such as financing options or insurance coverage that would otherwise not be available without it.

Related: Retail Resume Examples

FAQs About Retail Certifications

1. What is a Retail Certification?

A Retail Certification is a credential that demonstrates an individual's knowledge and skill in retail operations and management. This certification can be obtained by completing courses, exams, or other educational activities related to retail operations and management.

2. What are the Benefits of Obtaining a Retail Certification?

Having a Retail Certification can provide individuals with increased job opportunities, higher salaries, and the ability to develop their professional network. Additionally, having this certification can help demonstrate one’s commitment to the industry and add credibility to their resume.

3. Are There Different Types of Retail Certifications?

Yes, there are various types of retail certifications depending on the individual’s experience level and area of expertise within the field. For example, some certifications include Certified Professional Retail Manager (CPRM), Certified Retail Business Manager (CRBM), and Certified Store Operations Manager (CSOM).

4. How Can I Prepare for a Retail Certification Exam?

To prepare for a retail certification exam, it is helpful to review relevant materials such as textbooks, websites, articles, or practice tests related to the topics covered in the exam. Additionally, attending informational sessions or seminars hosted by local organizations may also be beneficial in preparing for an exam.

5. Where Can I Find More Information About Obtaining a Retail Certification?

More information about obtaining a retail certification can be found on professional organization websites such as National Association of Professional Salespeople (NAPS) or International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Additionally, many universities offer courses that focus on retail operations and management which may also provide helpful resources when it comes to obtaining certifications in this field.