Learning Never Ends: Pursuing Certifications Related to Ceramic Manufacturing
What certifications could be beneficial for ceramic manufacturing professionals who are interested in continuing education development?
The glass and ceramic industries are constantly changing, and new technology knowledge can provide opportunities for product and service innovation. Continuing education for engineering and other manufacturing associates is required for manufacturers to stay current with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies required for the market and industry.
Continuing education is also considered a way for professionals to keep abreast of their fields so they don’t lag behind in terms of career development. Today’s professionals—along with their companies—must commit to a lifelong learning philosophy that underpins the importance of continuous improvement, innovation, quality, lean, and problem solving. As Melissa Fudor points out, “You shouldn’t stop learning once college is over: It’s key to your career success. It doesn’t have to be in a traditional classroom, and it doesn’t need to burn a deeper hole into your student debt. And I promise, it’ll be far more fun than junior year calculus class.”1
Professionals interested in pursuing continuing education can benefit from in-house learning, college continuing education courses, online classes, conferences, and teaching a class themselves, among other opportunities. Another option I would highlight is a certification program. Certification programs offer the following benefits:
- Certifications demonstrate professional commitment; since it’s not mandated, professional certification shows your peers you’re serious about your high standards.
- Certifications enhance credentials; when it comes to the hiring process, manufacturing certifications are a great way to stand out from the competition. The third-party endorsement proves your expertise.
- Certifications improve a person’s skillset; most certifications offer new knowledge that can add to a professional’s toolbox of skills.2
A complementary benefit to both the employee and the employer is that certifications require continuing education to maintain the certification. This then can be a key source of building new knowledge.
Many technical societies offer certification programs that focus on key components of manufacturing. Following are some details related to programs that have the potential to help ceramic employees and their organizations underpin a competitive edge.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers around 17 certification programs that focus on quality, including manufacturing quality. These certifications include Calibration Technician, Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence, Quality Auditor, Quality Engineer, Quality Technician, Reliability Engineer, Six Sigma Black or Green Belt, and Software Quality Engineer.
The organization’s most popular certification is Certified Quality Engineer. Often designated CQE, this certification is bestowed based on knowledge focused on researching and preventing unnecessary loss of material, effort, and resources. As ASQ points out, the certified quality engineers’ “body of knowledge and applied technologies include, but are not limited to, development and operation of quality control systems, application and analysis of testing and inspection procedures, the ability to use metrology and statistical methods to diagnose and correct improper quality control practices, an understanding of human factors and motivation, familiarity with quality cost concepts and techniques, and the knowledge and ability to develop and administer management information systems and to audit quality systems for deficiency identification and correction.”3
SME highlights that certification can help professionals—whether seasoned industry veterans or those just starting their career path—become high-value assets to their employers while also being sought after in their industry. Furthermore, certification programs help demonstrate commitment to career development and continuous improvement. For the company, certification programs can help employees maintain the right knowledge and skills so that the organization is operating as efficiently or as effectively as it can. Lastly, for educators (academic or industry), by incorporating a certification and its related assessments into a curriculum, a determination can be made if students achieve the intended learning outcomes. The result is that students are provided with an industry-respected credential to give them a competitive edge.
SME offers several different certifications, including Certified Manufacturing Technologist, Certified Manufacturing Engineer, Lean Certification (at the Bronze, Silver, and Gold level), and a Fundamentals in Additive Manufacturing Certification that is offered through a collaborative program between UL and Tooling U-SME. Of this certification, SME states: “The Fundamentals in Additive Manufacturing Certification aligns to the Additive Manufacturing Body of Knowledge compiled by Tooling U-SME, America Makes, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), and Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM), with input from more than 500 additive manufacturing professionals.”4
Supply Chain Certification
The supply chain process and its management are crucial to a company and its suppliers as they seek to cost-effectively produce and distribute products and services. Supply chain-related certifications offered through APICS seek “to enhance your professional career and improve your organization’s bottom line. Whether you need to streamline your supply chain, master the basics of materials and operations management or build your knowledge in logistics, transportation and distribution, APICS has the right program for you.”5 APICS describes its certification offerings as follows:
- Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)—internal business subjects such as materials management, master scheduling, forecasting, and production planning
- Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)—external business subjects such as the extended supply chain, from organizations’ suppliers through to the end customers
- SCOR Professional (SCOR-P)—global supply chain and logistics using the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model
- Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD)—for demonstration of professional knowledge in logistics, transportation, and distribution
APICS highlights that “preparation [for taking the certification exam] will help candidates demonstrate their understanding of best practices, technology know-how and standards to advance their knowledge and elevate organization performance in logistics, transportation and distribution.” As such, the organization offers multiple learning options, including self-study, instructor-led, online instructor-led, online instructor-supported, and webinar-enabled courses, as well as a computer-based certification exam delivered worldwide via a test center network.
Project Management Certification
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), professionals who attain one of its project management certifications “can work in virtually any industry, anywhere in the world, and with any project management methodology.”6 The eight certifications offered by PMI are described as follows:7
- Project Management Professional (PMP)®—validates competence to perform in the role of a project manager, leading and directing projects and teams
- Program Management Professional (PgMP)®—designed for those who manage multiple, complex projects to achieve strategic and organizational results
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®—demonstrates proven ability in the coordinated management of one or more portfolios to achieve organizational objectives
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®—demonstrates understanding of the fundamental knowledge, terminology and processes of effective project management
- PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®—spotlights the ability to work effectively with stakeholders to define their business requirements, shape the output of projects and drive successful business outcomes
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®—created for those who believe in and apply agile principles and practices on projects; requires a combination of training, experience and an exam; bridges agile approaches such as SCRUM, XP, LEAN and Kanban
- PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®—recognizes demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the specialized area of assessing and identifying project risks, along with plans to mitigate threats and capitalize on opportunities
- PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®—recognizes demonstrated knowledge and advanced experience in the specialized area of developing and maintaining project schedules
Many options can help ceramic industry professionals earn industry-recognized credentials that travel with them throughout their careers. Bottom line—certifications can help structure lifelong learning, enhance career opportunities and provide a competitive advantage in the job market.
- Fudor, Melissa, “School’s Not Out: The Importance of Continuing Education,” The Muse, www.themuse.com/advice/schools-not-out-the-importance-of-continuing-education.
- “7 Certifications That Can Help Boost Your Manufacturing Career,” Apple Rubber, September 2017, www.applerubber.com/blog/7-certifications-that-can-help-boost-your-manufacturing-career.
- “Quality Engineer Certification CQE,” American Society for Quality, https://asq.org/cert/quality-engineer.
- “Master the Fundamentals of Additive Manufacturing,” SME, www.sme.org/learn/certifications/additive-manufacturing-certification.
- “APICS Education: Which Program is Right for You?,” APICS, www.apics.org/credentials-education/education-selector.
- “You, Certified,” Project Management Institute, Inc., www.pmi.org/certifications.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.