CMDSM Certification

To recognize professional managers, the MSMA has established the Certified Mail and Distribution Systems Manager (CMDSM) program. This accreditation process provides for an individual to be evaluated, tested, and certified on the body of technical knowledge and management skills necessary for performance in the profession.

Today there are over 350 CMDSM accredited professionals in the mail system management profession. The program covers the job categories of:

  • Mail Services Management, e.g., Manager or Supervisor

  • Distribution, Messenger, Shipping, Receiving or Fulfillment Manager or Supervisor

  • Administrative, Office Services, or Facilities Manager with responsibility for Mail and other Distribution Systems

  • Vendor or Consultant, serving the equipment supply or service needs of the mail management field.

The public CMDSS exam will be offered at the MAILCOM Conference.

To qualify, an individual must:

  • Currently be employed in the field for five or more years, with at least three years in management or

  • Have at least three years in management and provide a letter of recommendation from their employer or a recognized professional in management.

  • Attain 150 professional expertise points in the following areas

    • Professional Experience

    • MSMA Experience

    • NON-MSMA Experience

    • Education

A candidate does not have to be a member of the MSMA to participate in the program, although the non-member certification fee does provide for a one-year, individual MSMA membership. However, membership does not automatically mean you are certified or lower the requirements.

The CMDSM examination consists of 135 multiple-choice questions and five essay questions. It is a timed, four-hour exam. Two hours are allocated for the multiple-choice questions section and two hours for the essay questions section. You will be given a fifteen-minute break between the multiple-choice section and the essay questions section.

The exam is part of a computer based testing program. A computer will be provided for each applicant. All multiple-choice questions must be completed electronically.

Each multiple-choice question is worth one point and each essay question is worth a maximum of 10 points. The total points possible are 185. The multiple-choice questions only have one correct response. You must achieve a score of 75% or more to pass.

The examination does not contain any specific references to rates. Therefore, in your preparation or study sessions do not spend time trying to memorize rates or specific fees for various services. A basic understanding of major differences between rates and fees will be adequate. For example:

  • "Standard Mail" rates are less than "First Class" rates

  • Overnight air services are more than ground-services

  • "Next-Day-Morning" rates are more than "Second-Day-Afternoon" rates

The essay questions do not have a specific answer and provide you an opportunity to demonstrate the following in written format:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the mail and distribution management industry

  • Ability to develop creative solutions

  • Ability to communicate your ideas to employees as well as management in a logical sequence

Your success in learning to sell ideas upward in your organization is dependent upon being able to communicate effectively through writing. We recommend selecting a mentor to assist in developing essay questions, review your responses and identify any areas that you might need additional study and practice. An example of an essay question is on page 3. This question was purposely designed to assist individuals in practicing essay writing and understanding the opportunity for a detailed response. Not all five essay questions will require this depth of a response.


Question: As the budgetary manager for administrative functions, you have been asked to reduce expenses by 10%. Your areas of responsibility include Mail Services, centralized Copy Center Services, Shipping/Receiving, and Switchboard Operators. Your total budget is $1,250,000, $600,000 of which is for the centralized Copy Center Services recently brought back into the organization in an effort to reduce walk-up copying expenses. Draft a memo to the Director of Administration detailing the distribution of the proposed expense reductions, the service level impact to both internal and external customers by implementing these reductions, and your reasons for not making an ‘across the board’ reduction in expenses.



To:John Doe, Director of Administration
From: Sally Smith, Office Services Manager
Date: November 5, 2001
Subject: Proposed 10% Expense Reduction and Service Level Impacts

You have asked each of the budgetary managers to reduce expenses by 10% for the upcoming year. Outlined below are my recommendations for achieving an expense reduction of $125,000 (10% of my $1,250,000 annual budget), and the service level impact to our customers (internal, and external where appropriate) by making these changes. I am not recommending an ‘across the board’ reduction in my areas of responsibility, due to recently bringing the Copy Center Services back within the organization in an effort to reduce the company’s walk-up copying expenses on each floor.

Switchboard Operators: The expense budget for the switchboard operators is $125,000, of which $100,000 is the salary for the four full-time operators. We currently provide switchboard services from 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. These hours provide service to our East Coast external customers from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and service to our West Coast customers from 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Fifty percent of our customer base is located on the East Coast, 40% in the Midwest, and 10% on the West Coast. The current hours of operation far exceed the normal business hours of any of our external customers. Reducing switchboard operators from four to three would allow hours of operation to be 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., reduce expense by $25,000, and provide access to our company during the normal business hours for 90% of our customer base.

Shipping/Receiving: The expense budget for this area is $150,000, of which $90,000 is the salary for three full-time associates (providing hourly pick-up and delivery within the facility), and $30,000 for the technology used tracking package movement. Reducing this area by one full-time equivalent provides $30,000 in expense reductions, but has a dramatic impact to the internal customers. Eliminating one shipping/receiving person will require hourly customer contact to be decreased by one-half in order to maintain full coverage in the shipping/receiving office to handle outside couriers. With that said, providing two-hour customer contact is acceptable based on the customer survey recently performed.

Mail Services: Obtaining the remaining $60,000 targeted reduction can be achieved in the Mail Center by outsourcing outgoing mail to a presort bureau. We spend $25,000 a year in equipment lease payments for metering equipment, and $200,000 in postage expense, of which 75% qualifies for presort discounts. A presort bureau will post the outgoing mail, eliminating our need for equipment, apply the presort discount and share the discount, resulting in a $.02 per piece savings to us ($150,000 = $8,800 savings), and allow us to reduce our mail center staff by one person, or $28,000. Outsourcing to a presort bureau will decrease the mail center budget by a total of $61,800. The presort bureau will pick up our outgoing mail at 5:30 p.m. daily, allowing all mail picked up on the last mail delivery to be posted and sent out the same day. Presorting our outbound mail should also expedite delivery to our external customers under the work-share program.

As you can see, it is possible for my department to reduce expenses by 10% without a dramatic service level decrease to our customers. However, the changes result in the loss of three full-time employees that will most likely have a negative impact on the remaining Administration employees’ morale. I do believe this is manageable with the right communication to our staff. I feel strongly that it is not in our best interest to attempt reductions in the Copy Center Services area at this time. If our efforts are not successful by moving volumes from the walk-up copiers to the centralized area, there are expense reduction savings to be obtained in this area. These should be put in reserve until there is sufficient time to evaluate the success of this new program.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please feel free to give me a call at ext. 2345. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these recommendations, and whether these will be included in the upcoming budget for 2002.


CMDSM Navigation

  • CMDSM Application

    CMDSM Renewal

    CMDSM Directory

    Test Materials

Other Certification Programs


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