Certified Public Manager (CPM) Certification

Certified Public Manager with staff
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Certified Public Manager (CPM) is a designation that can be earned by public sector middle managers who want to further their careers working in federal, state, local governments, and non-profit organizations. The certification is the equivalent of getting a Masters in Public Administration degree (MPA). The program is administered by National Public Manager Consortium (NPMC), which provides oversight and accreditation for fifty programs across the country (one program per state). The NPMC requires participants to complete 300 hours of study to earn certification. 


The CPM certification is less prestigious than an MPA, but it is often more practical for mid-career public servants to obtain. Whereas MPA candidates are typically expected to devote themselves to fulltime enrollment, CPM participants go to class one to two days a month and earn credentials within one to two years. As part of their studies, they take courses in human resources, quality management, communication, finance, program evaluation, and information systems. According to NPMC, the approved curriculum focuses on seven specific areas:

Personal and Organizational Integrity: Increasing awareness, building skills and modeling behaviors related to identifying potential ethical problems and conflicts of interest; appropriate workplace behavior; and legal policy
Managing Work: Meeting organizational goals through effective planning, prioritizing, organizing and aligning human, financial, material, and information resources. Empowering others by delegating clear job expectations; providing meaningful feedback and coaching; creating a motivational environment and measuring performance. Monitoring workloads and documenting performance. Dealing effectively with performance problems.
Leading People: Inspiring others to positive action through a clear vision; promotes a diverse workforce. Encouraging and facilitating cooperation, pride, trust, and group identity; fostering commitment and team spirit. Articulating vision, ideas, and facts in a clear and organized way; effectively managing emotions and impulses.
Developing Self: Demonstrating commitment to continuous learning, self-awareness, and individual performance planning through feedback, study, and analysis.
Systemic Integration: Approaching planning, decision making, and implementation from an enterprise perspective; understanding internal and external relationships that impact the organization.
Public Service Focus: Delivering superior services to the public and internal and external recipients; including customer/client identification expectations, needs, and developing and implementing paradigms, processes, and procedures that exude a positive spirit; demonstrating agency and personal commitment to quality.
Change Leadership: Acting as a change agent; initiating and supporting change within the organization by implementing strategies to help others adapt to changes in the work environment, including personal reactions to change; emphasizing and fostering creativity and innovation; being proactive. 

MPA programs cover similar topics, but they do so in a more intense way that takes much more time and effort to complete. And like most masters programs, enrolling in an MPA program requires participants to possess a bachelor’s degree and to pass a standard graduate records examination. One of the advantages of getting CPM certification is that middle managers can often apply what they're learning in the program to a real-world environment, as opposed to waiting to apply what they've learned until after they've earned a degree.

The Benefits of CPM Certification and Job Opportunities

Beyond the expertise that managers gain from completing a CPM program, CPM certification can open doors to other positions within government administration, from lower-level management positions in planning and utility administration departments to higher-level public administration positions like police chief, fire chief, public works director, and city managers.