Students: 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 your majors.  Further, these associations often have certifications with them that externally validate you as a subject matter expert ($$$).  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 orgs allows you to do so (resume material).  Further, when you graduate, that you look forward to being an engaged member of these orgs and even taking on leadership roles.   

For all the multiple majors in our class, I think the list below has us all covered.  Please let me know if I missed something.  Thank you.  Sime 


Industry Certifications & Associations for Various Business Majors (per discussions I had with colleagues): 


For marketing, there are several certifications offered through the American Marketing Association:  And, I think there are various marketing research associations that offer continuing education and certifications for those wanting to get into that specific area of marketing (like a CRA 

For Ad + Promo, unless you get heavy into digital, there isn’t anything really, except maybe a project management certification?  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 popular one to suggest that students can do anytime, but they are changing their measurement solutions next year.

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. 


Digital Marketing 

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 will actually be helping launch a Kalamazoo-based professional group in mid-October. “Kalamazoo Digital Media Meetups” will become a quarterly thing for professionals in the southwest Michigan area, and Dr. Cowley will be hosting the launch party in HCOB on the evening of 10/11. 

There are many different certifications, but none are industry standards. Email me for a list of free ones that Dr. Cowley recommends to students (although from this list, only a few from Google are ones that are actually requested in job postings). 


Human Resources Management 

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, is a 300,000+ member international org 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 (MISHRM and KHRMA), as well as student chapters (our own 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.   


Finance: The CFA Institute for individuals wanting to earn and hold the CFA designation, (focus on investment analysis, etc.) and the CFP Board for those wanting to earn the CFP designation (work with individual retail customers on financial planning) 

Personal Financial Planning: Financial Planning Association 

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: 




Not really? Salespeople prefer to join other associations where customers hang out. Hanging with other salespeople is not helping them sell anything.  

Our degree is more advanced than most industry training programs, so no real benefit in spending more money to earn an unneeded certification.  Sales results are the only certification worth anything. Produce and thrive or don’t and don’t.  


CIS and Business Analytics 

There are plenty. Here is a list of a few: 

  1. Google’s certifications on analytics, big data, cloud, data science, machine learning, etc. 
  2. Amazon’s certifications on cloud, big data, data science, machine learning, etc. 
  3. Microsoft certifications on Excel, PowerBI, Azure, cloud, Data science, machine learning, database, etc. 
  4. Project Management Professionals. Certifications include PMP, CAPM, etc. 
  5. International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) 
  6. Other vendor specific certifications, such as big data databases (e.g., MongoDB, Casandra, etc.), relational database, etc. 
  7. Many industry conferences. See for a small list. Amazon’s re:Invent conference and AWS Summit are good ones too. There are other big ones by SalesForce, IBM, Oracle and other big name technology companies. 



There are a lot in accounting, the CPA 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 is the CPA, the IMA is for the CMA, the AICPA is working to expand into management accounting with the CGMA. 

Business Law: American Bar Association (that’s all I have). 


And of course the major certifications for SCM:

CPSM® Certified Professional in Supply Management

APICS/ASCM Certifications

 APICS Certified Supply Chain Certification (CSCP)

APICS Certified in Planning and Inventory Management (CPIM)

Recent observations & career advice (videos/podcasts):

Resume Advice:

Grad school advice:

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