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Top 10 Retail Specialist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top retail specialist certifications available for those looking to advance their knowledge and skills in the retail industry.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for a retail specialist in the job market because they demonstrate the individual’s knowledge and skills in their field. In addition, certifications can help set an individual apart from other applicants when applying for jobs, as employers may look favorably upon someone who has taken the initiative to gain additional qualifications. Furthermore, certifications may also provide access to higher-level positions or increased wages due to the extra training they have completed. Finally, certifications may also provide recognition within the industry and open up networking opportunities.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Retail Specialists and explain how they can help to further a retail specialist's career.

What are Retail Specialist Certifications?

Retail specialist certification is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have achieved proficiency in the retail industry. The certification program is typically offered by organizations such as the National Retail Federation, and requires successful completion of courses, exams, and/or other requirements.

Retail specialist certification can benefit those working in the retail sector in several ways. First, it can help demonstrate an individual’s knowledge of industry standards and best practices. This can be useful when seeking employment or promotions within the retail sector as employers may view certified individuals more favorably than their non-certified counterparts. Additionally, having a certification may open up new opportunities such as consulting work or speaking engagements related to the retail industry. Finally, certifications can also provide valuable networking opportunities with other professionals who have achieved similar levels of expertise.

Pro Tip: Make sure to thoroughly research the requirements for any retail specialist certification you are considering. Many certifications require continuing education credits, work experience and/or passing an exam. Knowing upfront what is required will ensure you have a better chance at success.

Related: What does a Retail Specialist do?

Top 10 Retail Specialist Certifications

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

1. Certified Retail Sales Professional (C-RSP)

The Certified Retail Sales Professional (C-RSP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge, skill and expertise in the retail industry. The C-RSP certification is offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), and it is designed to help employers identify qualified retail sales professionals.

It typically takes between 4-6 months to complete the C-RSP program. To get certified, applicants must first pass an online assessment that tests their knowledge of retail operations, customer service, sales techniques, store policies and procedures. Once they have passed this assessment, they will then be required to complete an online application and submit it for review.

The cost of the C-RSP certification program varies depending on the applicant's individual needs. Generally speaking, the cost of the program ranges from $200-$500 USD. This fee covers the cost of materials, access to online resources and support services, as well as access to a community of certified professionals who can provide advice and guidance throughout the process.

2. Certified Retail Manager (CRM)

Certified Retail Manager (CRM) is a professional certification program that recognizes retail professionals who have demonstrated their knowledge and expertise in the field. It is administered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The CRM certification is designed to validate a retail manager's knowledge, skills, and abilities in all areas of retail management.

It typically takes between six months and one year to complete the CRM certification program. To get certified, you must first complete an application and pay the required fee. After payment, you will receive access to online courses and resources that will help prepare you for the exam. Once you have completed all coursework, you can take the exam at an approved testing center.

The cost of becoming a Certified Retail Manager varies depending on which package you choose. The basic package costs $595 USD and includes access to online courses, practice exams, study materials, and one attempt at the exam. The premium package costs $895 USD and includes everything from the basic package plus two attempts at the exam.

Once you have passed the exam, your name will be added to NRF’s list of certified retail managers. You will also receive a certificate of completion as well as other recognition materials such as lapel pins or plaques that can be used to show off your achievement.

3. Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM)

Certified Professional in Retail Management (CPRM) is a professional certification offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and expertise in retail management.

The CPRM certification requires applicants to have at least three years of experience in the retail industry, as well as the completion of a series of courses and exams. The program consists of five core courses, two electives, and an exam. The core courses cover topics such as customer service, merchandising, operations management, store layout and design, and financial analysis. The elective courses focus on specific topics related to retail management such as inventory control, marketing, human resources management, and e-commerce.

The entire program takes approximately six months to complete. Applicants must complete all coursework before taking the final exam. After passing the exam with a score of 70% or higher, applicants will receive their CPRM certification.

The cost for the CPRM program varies depending on the number of courses taken and whether or not you choose to take any elective courses. The cost typically ranges from $1,500 - $2,500 USD for all required coursework plus any additional electives chosen.

4. Certified Professional in Merchandising and Marketing (CPMM)

Certified Professional in Merchandising and Marketing (CPMM) is a professional certification program offered by the International Association of Merchandisers (IAM). The CPMM certification is designed to recognize the knowledge and expertise of merchandising and marketing professionals. It provides an industry-recognized credential that can be used to demonstrate proficiency in merchandising, marketing, and retail management.

The CPMM program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical assessment. To become certified, candidates must pass both components with a score of 70 or higher. The written exam covers topics such as product development, pricing strategies, promotion planning, retail operations, and customer service. The practical assessment requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to apply the concepts they have learned in the written exam.

The CPMM certification typically takes about six months to complete from start to finish. Candidates must first register for the exam online through IAM’s website. After registering, applicants will receive study materials and instructions on how to prepare for the exam. Once ready, they can schedule their written exam at an approved testing center near them. Upon passing the written exam with a score of 70 or higher, applicants will then be eligible to take the practical assessment which can also be taken at an approved testing center near them.

The cost of obtaining the CPMM certification varies depending on where you are taking it and what type of study materials you need. Generally speaking, it costs around $400-$500 USD for registration fees plus any additional study materials you may need.

5. Certified Retail Technology Specialist (CRTS)

Certified Retail Technology Specialist (CRTS) is a professional certification program designed to recognize retail professionals who demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of technology solutions and their application in the retail industry. The CRTS program is administered by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and is open to all retail professionals regardless of job title or experience level.

The CRTS certification requires applicants to complete a series of online courses that cover topics such as store operations, customer service, inventory management, point-of-sale systems, ecommerce, and digital marketing. Upon completion of the coursework, applicants must pass an exam that tests their knowledge on the subject material.

The CRTS certification typically takes between 6-12 months to complete depending on the individual’s schedule and commitment level. The cost for the program ranges from $500-$1,000 depending on the number of courses taken.

In order to become certified as a CRTS, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements including: being employed in a retail organization; completing at least one year of work experience in a retail setting; having basic computer skills; and passing an exam with a score of 80% or higher.

6. Certified Store Manager (CSM)

Certified Store Manager (CSM) is a professional certification program offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF). It is designed to recognize retail professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage and lead a retail store. The CSM certification is intended to provide retailers with an objective measure of an individual's competency in store management.

The CSM program consists of two parts: a written exam and an online course. The written exam covers topics such as customer service, operations, merchandising, financials, and people management. The online course focuses on business strategy, leadership development, organizational change, and marketing principles.

It typically takes about six months to complete the entire CSM program. During this time, you will need to study for the written exam and complete the online course. You can also supplement your studies with additional resources such as books or webinars if needed.

The cost of the CSM program varies depending on where you take it but generally ranges from $500-$1000 USD. This includes both the cost of the written exam and the online course materials.

Once you have completed both parts of the program successfully, you will be awarded your Certified Store Manager certificate from NRF. This certificate serves as proof that you have met all requirements for becoming a Certified Store Manager and demonstrates your commitment to excellence in retail management.

7. Certified Retail Analyst (CRA)

Certified Retail Analyst (CRA) is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of retail professionals. It is offered by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. This certification validates the expertise and experience of retail professionals in areas such as customer service, sales, marketing, operations, technology, finance, and analytics.

The CRA program consists of three levels: Certified Retail Analyst (CRA), Advanced Certified Retail Analyst (ACRA), and Master Certified Retail Analyst (MCRA). To become certified at any level, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics related to retail management. The exams are administered online through NRF's testing partner Kryterion.

It takes approximately 6-8 weeks to complete the CRA program from start to finish. Candidates should plan on spending at least 10 hours per week studying for the exam.

To get started with the CRA program, you must first register with NRF and pay a registration fee of $495 USD. After registering, you will receive access to study materials and practice tests that will help prepare you for the exam. When you are ready to take the exam, you will need to schedule an appointment with Kryterion and pay an additional fee of $395 USD for each level of certification.

Once you have passed all three levels of the CRA program, you will be eligible for recognition as a Certified Retail Analyst from NRF and can use the designation after your name when listing your credentials.

8. Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM)

Certified Visual Merchandiser (CVM) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in visual merchandising. It is offered by the International Visual Merchandising Association (IVMA). The CVM program is designed to validate the competency of individuals working in the field of visual merchandising.

The CVM program consists of three levels: Certified Visual Merchandiser Level 1, Certified Visual Merchandiser Level 2, and Certified Visual Merchandiser Level 3. Each level requires successful completion of an online assessment and a practical test. To become certified at each level, applicants must pass both parts of the assessment with a score of 80% or higher.

The time it takes to complete the CVM program depends on the individual's experience and commitment to studying for the assessments. Generally, it can take up to 6 months or longer to complete all three levels.

To get started on the CVM program, applicants must first register with IVMA and pay a registration fee. After registering, applicants will be given access to the online learning materials for each level as well as practice tests that can help prepare them for the assessments.

The cost for the CVM program varies depending on which level you are applying for. The cost for Level 1 is $195 USD; Level 2 is $295 USD; and Level 3 is $395 USD. All fees are non-refundable and must be paid prior to taking any part of the assessment or practical test.

9. Certified Supply Chain Professional in Retail (CSCP-R)

Certified Supply Chain Professional in Retail (CSCP-R) is a certification program offered by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). It is designed to provide professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively manage supply chain operations in the retail industry. The CSCP-R certification is valid for three years, after which it must be renewed.

The CSCP-R program consists of five modules: Introduction to Retail Supply Chain, Demand Planning and Forecasting, Sourcing and Procurement, Logistics and Distribution, and Performance Measurement. Each module includes lectures, case studies, and hands-on activities that help participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the retail supply chain.

In order to become certified as a CSCP-R professional, one must complete all five modules and pass an exam. The exam tests knowledge of the topics covered in each module as well as general concepts related to supply chain management. The exam can be taken online or at ISM testing centers throughout the United States.

It typically takes around six months to complete all five modules and pass the exam. However, this time frame may vary depending on one’s prior experience with supply chain management principles.

The cost of becoming certified as a CSCP-R professional varies depending on whether one chooses to take the course online or in person at an ISM testing center. Online courses typically cost between $1,500-$2,000 while in-person courses can range from $3,000-$4,000.

10. National Council of Chain Restaurants Certification Program (NCCRP)

The National Council of Chain Restaurants Certification Program (NCCRP) is a voluntary certification program designed to recognize restaurants that demonstrate exceptional standards in food safety, sanitation, and operational practices. The program is intended to help restaurant operators improve their operations and provide customers with safe, quality meals.

To become certified under the NCCRP, restaurants must complete an online application process and submit documentation to demonstrate compliance with the program’s standards. This includes providing evidence of food safety training for all employees and demonstrating proper sanitation procedures. Once the application is approved, the restaurant will receive an official certificate of recognition from the NCCRP.

The entire certification process typically takes between four to six weeks to complete. To get started, applicants must first register online at the NCCRP website and pay a one-time fee of $150 USD. After submitting all required documentation, applicants will be notified within two weeks if they have been approved for certification or not. If approved, the certificate will be issued within four weeks of approval.

Once certified, restaurants are required to maintain their standards in order to remain certified. This includes regular inspections by third-party auditors as well as annual recertification fees of $50 USD per year.

Do You Really Need a Retail Specialist Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual and their goals. If someone is looking for a career in retail, then a Retail Specialist Certificate could be beneficial. It can provide an individual with knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the retail industry, such as understanding customer service principles, communication strategies, marketing techniques, and more.

Having a certificate could also help open up job opportunities that may not have been available before. Employers often look for applicants who have some form of specialized training or certification in order to ensure they are knowledgeable about their field and able to properly serve customers. Additionally, having a certificate could help boost your resume when applying for jobs in retail or related fields.

Ultimately, whether or not you need a Retail Specialist Certificate will depend on your specific career goals and interests. If you think it would be beneficial to your future prospects, then obtaining one might be worth considering.

Related: Retail Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Retail Specialist Certifications

1. What is a retail specialist certification?

Answer: A retail specialist certification is an official recognition of expertise in the field of retail sales and customer service. It demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively in a retail environment.

2. What are the benefits of becoming a certified retail specialist?

Answer: Benefits of becoming a certified retail specialist include increased job opportunities, higher pay, and greater respect from employers and customers alike. Additionally, certification can help demonstrate expertise to employers and increase one’s chances of promotion or advancement within the company.

3. How do I become certified as a retail specialist?

Answer: To become certified as a retail specialist, you must successfully complete an accredited training program and pass an exam administered by the certifying organization. The length of time for completion varies depending on the program chosen; however, most certifications require at least 40 hours of training over several weeks or months.

4. How long does it take to receive my certification after completing all requirements?

Answer: Once you have completed all requirements for your certification, it typically takes 4-6 weeks for your certificate to arrive in the mail from the certifying organization. You may also be able to access digital versions of your certificate online sooner than receiving it in physical form by mail.

5. Are there any prerequisites for obtaining a retail specialist certification?

Answer: Generally speaking, there are no prerequisites for obtaining a retail specialist certification; however, some programs may require applicants to have prior experience working in a related field or industry before enrolling in their program. Additionally, some programs may also require applicants to possess certain educational qualifications such as high school diplomas or equivalent degrees before being accepted into their coursework programs