Four leading sponsors, 12 different certifications
By Kevin J Fisher, MBA, CAFM, CTP, Senior Consultant, Mercury Associates
This question comes up often, particularly with more-tenured fleet professionals and frequently with the constant budget pressures in many of today’s organizations, both in the private and public sectors. Today, training is available in the form of webinars, online training modules and testing, live classroom sessions at various industry association conferences, local colleges and universities.
In my experience, an investment in fleet management training and certifications pays dividends in the long run for both the organization and the employee. These dividends come in the form of more engaged and motivated employees, who are better equipped to deal with the constant pace of change and innovation in the marketplace. This happens not only through training and certifications but by networking at industry association events with both fellow fleet professionals and vendors. Both can provide up to date information on new products and services available in the marketplace today.
Professional fleet certification will enhance your professional status. The additional training will expand your knowledge and increase your technical competence in all aspects of fleet management. Certifications provide professional recognition by peers, industry leaders, and your organization, whether in the private or public sector. Training and certification may increase your qualifications for future advancements or open other career opportunities.
Here are some of the current fleet certifications available today and the organizations that offer them:
- NAFA Fleet Management Association (NAFA). NAFA’s Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) and Certified Automotive Fleet Specialist (CAFS) self-study certification programs are the most popular and best-known fleet certifications on this listing. The eight major focus areas of the CAFM/CAFS Certifications are Asset Management, Business Management, Financial Management, Information Management, Maintenance Management, Professional Development, Risk Management, and Vehicle Fuel Management.
For the CAFM, the fleet professional must pass eight disciplines in a three-year period. To obtain a CAFS, the fleet professional must pass any four of the eight disciplines listed below, within two years. In both cases, tests may be taken online or in-person during the NAFA Institute/Expo.
For more information on what’s entailed in each of the disciplines, check out www.NAFA.org
- National Private Truck Council (NPTC). The NPTC sponsors a program called the Certified Transportation Professional (CTP). Since the CTP designation was first introduced in 1993 more than 1,500 transportation professionals have earned the right to add Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) after their name.
With this designation, senior management will readily identify you as a professional with the experience and knowledge to direct and administer a fleet, traffic, or transportation operation. You will benefit from valuable networking opportunities and gain recognition from both your peers and the fleet/transportation industry.
As a fleet/transportation manager or executive, the CTP designation confirms that you have the knowledge and ability to understand complex operational and regulatory issues, to identify and evaluate potential costs and savings, and to develop systems and practices that best meet your company’s transportation needs and objectives. If you are a transportation supplier, the CTP designation confirms that you have the know-how to better service and cater to the unique needs of the fleet/transportation industry.
Candidates are expected to have a clear understanding of the skills, abilities, and knowledge required to effectively and efficiently perform within the fleet/transportation management profession. The certification curriculum and the CTP Examination content are focused on the five core subject matter disciplines of private fleet management. These five core areas are: Finance, Safety, Human Resources/Legal, Operations, and Vehicle Equipment and Maintenance Operations.
For more information on the CTP certification, check out www.NPTC.org
- National Property Management Association (NPMA). Mercury Associates, in partnership with the National Property Management Association (NPMA), provides training and certification in several federal fleet management disciplines. The Federal Fleet Certification program is a nationally recognized course of study that enables people in the business of federal fleet management to obtain an education, achieve certification, achieve recognition, and improve competitive skills in the process.
The program offers three different levels of certification:
- Certified Federal Fleet Specialist (CFFS) 1st Level. For the fleet management professional who works to support fleet activities, usually part time, like a “vehicle control officer” or fleet POC in an office
- Certified Federal Fleet Administrator (CFFA) 2nd Level For the Fleet Management professional who manages a GSA Leased fleet
- Cerified Federal Fleet Manager (CFFM) 3rd Level . For the fleet management professional who manages an owned or combined leased and owned fleet
The program was developed to help agencies address some of the unique aspects of working in federal fleet management, which include:
Compliance. Federal fleets must be managed in accordance with a dizzying array of statutes, laws, and regulations that originate from Congress, the White House, and other Federal agencies with regulatory authority. Often, what is simply a best practice in municipal fleet management is translated into a law that federal fleet managers must abide by.
Reporting. Federal fleets must report granular data on every vehicle to Congress, the White House, and the public at large on an annual basis, the purpose of which is to demonstrate their compliance with the laws and regulations mentioned above.
Sourcing. Federal fleets are sourced differently than municipal and commercial fleets, mostly due to GSA Fleet playing a central role in vehicle acquisitions and interagency leasing.
Because of those three areas, federal fleet managers find value in a fleet training and certification program that addresses those key differences. Additionally, those fleet managers receive training in more general fleet management best practices, including right-sizing and right-typing, replacement planning, fleet management information systems, and metrics and reporting.
North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI). The North American Transportation Management Institute exists to improve the performance and productivity of the professionals directly responsible for effective fleet and driver performance, including safety directors, maintenance managers, and commercial driver trainers.
Through its training and professional certification programs, NATMI helps transportation professionals develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to, reduce vehicle accidents, reduce employee injuries, control costs associated with vehicle maintenance.
These training and professional certification programs also develop the knowledge and skills necessary to recruit and retain qualified drivers, avoid fines through proper regulatory compliance, and present a favorable public image.
NATMI offers six different certifications:
Certified Director of Safety (CDS). The coursework focuses on all parts of fleet safety, from designing the safety program itself, to hiring safety-conscious workers and mitigating accident losses
Certified Director of Maintenance/Equipment (CDM/E). The program teaches the basics like personnel management, but also goes further by teaching how to manage fleet data, and even take advantage of preventive maintenance. It also includes a full course on cost-containment strategies, with objectives as diverse as calculating ROIs, getting the most out of warranty recovery, and “learning to speak the CFO’s language.”
Certified Safety Supervisor (CSS). This certification is similar to the CDS but requires less field experience. Candidates for CSS also don’t have to be “full-time administrators,” a requirement for the CDS.
Certified Supervisor of Maintenance/Equipment (CSM/E). This program is similar to the CDM in its focus, but requires half the coursework, and candidates need only two years of experience, as opposed to four to five.
Certified Driver Trainer (CDT). This certification focuses as much on how to teach new drivers as what you’ll teach them. NATMI describes it as a “train-the-trainer” course that will teach you how to design objectives, how to present effectively (i.e., not put your students to sleep), and how to plan lessons. You’ll even have the chance to practice those lessons during the course.
Certified Cargo Security Professional (CSSP). The CCSP certification is a wide-ranging aide for your work in the fleet industry, which covers everything from hazmat to keeping your business running to “cross-border operations.”
For more information on these certifications, check out www.NATMI.org
Fleet needs and benefits
The benefits to the organization of fleet training and certification include being better prepared for succession planning within the fleet department as you are developing future fleet leaders. The organization will be in a stronger position to oversee your fleet services vendors.
Developing internal subject matter expertise will lead to enhanced fleet department performance. As the trend towards more involvement by the procurement department in the acquisition of both fleet assets and services continues, it becomes even more critical that each organization has either a full-time fleet subject-matter expert on staff or access to competent, independent fleet management consultant resources.
Oversight of external fleet services vendors and suppliers will insure alignment with organizational goals. In-house knowledge of the federal, state and local regulatory requirements that apply to your particular fleet operation is beneficial in getting the best solutions to match your unique organization’s fleet needs.
I am a firm believer in the value of fleet training and professional certifications along with industry association membership. Investing in your fleet staff in these areas will provide a robust payback to your organization in the form of more engaged employees, higher performance levels in the fleet department, and a fleet staff that is better prepared to deal with the increasing pace of change in the field of fleet management.