Employers have a growing demand for education and certification. In the same way 50 is the new 40, extra certifications and grad degrees are the new BA’s and work experience.
It’s no different in the world of fleet management. Keeping up to date can help your career. Of course, one way to do this is to be aware of what fleet management software can do for your business. But another is old-fashioned training and education, which is a priority for increasing numbers of employers. LinkedIn’s Blair Decembrele recently noted that “companies are increasingly examining non-traditional credentials, like bootcamps or online certifications, when looking to fill certain roles.” To help you exceed your employers’ increasing expectations, I’ve compiled this list of top fleet management certifications.
I’ve broken down each certification by a few categories:
- What is it?
- Who offers it?
- Where offered?
- How do you finish?
- What are the benefits?
There are benefits to any of these fleet management certifications. I spoke with Ryan Driscoll of GPS Insight, a leading fleet tracking company, who said “help with professional development and obviously help increase candidate value on the job market.” Amy Murray of Ron Turley commented on the industry-wide benefits of such certifications, saying these certifications “promote excellence in fleet management by advancing the knowledge and practice of public fleet professionals to benefit communities through quality fleet services.” A certification helps you and the industry, and corporate civic-mindedness is never a bad thing.
What is it?
The Certified Automotive Fleet Manager certification is a self-study program to train you as a fleet manager. It’s the best-known and most ubiquitous certification on this list. It’s well-regarded enough that GE issued a press release when ten of their employees were certified with it, and/or its sister program, CAFS (see below).
You’ll have to pass the eight disciplines below in a three-year period to earn your certification:
- Asset Management (AM): selection, procurement, and upkeep of your vehicles.
- Business Management (BM): broad-level strategy, interactions with other businesses, proposal management, and knowing all of the finicky rules and regulations.
- Financial Management (FM): Leasing, buying, budgeting, and reimbursing. If it has to do with the accounting department, you’ll find it here.
- Information Management (IM): Telematics, data, data analysis, and the skills and information you’ll need to work with your IT people.
- Maintenance Management (MM): Managing your vehicles, managing your maintenance staff, handling your inventory, and the environmental rules that come with running a fleet.
- Professional Development (PD): Covers more general topics like leadership, communications, managing a diverse workforce, and the ethics of running a vehicle fleet.
- Risk Management (RM): Insurance, safety, and damage control in the incident of a crash.
- Vehicle Fuel Management (VFM): Get to know fuels, both traditional and alternative, and also get to know the services that help you track fuel usage.
For more information on what’s entailed in each of the disciplines, check out NAFA’s in-depth explanations of the disciplines.
One year of fleet experience, or enrollment in a fleet-related college program.
NAFA members, $700. Non-members, $1,100. Enhanced enrollment (which includes an extra “3-4 hours of recorded webinars”) is $1200 for members, $1600 for non-members.
Who offers it?
NAFA, a national trade association of fleet managers.
Where is CAFM offered?
KM Vigneau, Director of Professional Development at NAFA, explained the in-person option to me: “Candidates can prepare ahead of time and show up and write exams on day one, get immediate results, attend classes for any module they did not pass and then retest (different exam) on the final day of the Conference.” This is a solid option if you’re going to the Institute and Expo anyway.
How do you finish testing for CAFM?
Get at least a 70% on the test for each discipline (50 multiple-choice questions).
A broader knowledge of what’s going on in the fleet field, and knowledge about areas of fleet management you might not know. KM Vigneau adds that CFAM is “in its 31st year and is THE industry standard and the only fleet certification program that is University-accredited,” so the education you receive is judged as equal to what you’d get in a college classroom.
What is it?
A more-limited version of the CAFM training. The courses are the same as the CAFM, but certification requires fewer courses. CAFS is cheaper and less labor-intensive than the full CAFM program.
At least a year of fleet management experience, or enrollment in a four-year college program.
$500 for NAFA members, $750 for non-members. Enhanced registration, which comes with the same extra webinars as the enhanced registration option for CAFM, is $1,200 for members, $1,600 for non-members.
Who offers it?
Like above, NAFA.
Where is CAFS offered?
Online, but the same option for in-person testing at the Institute/Expo as in the CAFM is available.
How do you finish testing for CAFS?
Pass four of the eight disciplines listed above with at least a 70% on the final.
According to Anne LaBarbara, Donlen’s Fleet Administrative Services Account Manager, her CAFS certification, “Was an opportunity to not only advance my career, but find more ways to help our customers. The certification covers all aspects of fleet management, from running a garage to selecting assets to financial options based on size of the company. The knowledge is invaluable as we partner with customers.” High praise, indeed.
3. NATMI Certification
What is it?
Six different certifications:
- Certified Director of Safety (CDS): the coursework for CDS 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 CDM/E certification 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 “learn to speak the CFO’s language.”
- Certified Safety Supervisor (CSS): the Certified Safety Supervisor 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): The CSM certification 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/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 (CCSP): 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.”
Most course requirements include two–five years work experience, but some certification programs allow you to substitute a four-year college degree for one year of work experience.
Check here for the specific requirements for each program.
According to NATMI, pricing “depends on which program you’re participating in and, in some cases, where you are taking the program.” It is possible to get a ballpark, though. For example, if you want the CDS or the CSS certifications, it’ll cost $1,295 for a four-and-a-half day program, or $1,195 if you can test out of their “Motor Fleet Safety Basics” course.
Test out of that, and you’ll also cut your overall course time down by two days.
CDT and CSM/E both cost $900, and CDM/E is $1,295.
Who offers it?
NATMI, the North American Transportation Management Institute.
Where is NATMI offered?
In various locations around the country. Check the NATMI calendar for an updated list of where seminars are being offered.
How do you finish testing for NATMI?
You’re required to take the necessary seminars on your chosen topic, pass an exam, and also “submit an exhibit binder with three letters of recommendation.”
If career, reputation, and personal growth are all important to you as a fleet manager, consider NATMI. For example, 86% of people who received the Director of Safety certification say it “directly enhanced their ability to lower the company’s accident rate.” Additionally, 100% of surveyed students said it helped them deal with costs that resulted from accident lawsuits. Given how much money is lost by car accidents each year (here’s a list, by state), that’s help you’ll want.
4. ARN Fleet Certification Program
What is it?
A certification offered by the Automotive Resource Network, an automotive industry non-profit and professional organization. ARN connects leaders from the automotive field, provides news and industry research, and runs CARS (Car Advertisement Review Services), which helps automotive dealers navigate FTC regulations on advertising.
Two to three years’ experience in the fleet management field. ARN certifies this with your employer.
A single class registration is $50 for members and $100 for-nonmembers. For the entire eight-course program, it’s $400 for members, and $850 for non-members.
Who offers it?
The Automotive Resource Network.
Where is the ARN Fleet Certification Program offered?
— How do you finish? Pass 8 of the 19 available disciplines (check “Curriculum,” about halfway down the page) with a minimum score of 70% on the course.
As with the other programs, the ARN certification reflects your seriousness about your career. It shows an employer that you intend to remain in fleet management and are willing to invest money and your free time on the furthering your knowledge.
Are there any Fleet Management Certifications that I missed?
If there are any fleet management certifications you think deserve a mention on this list, I’d love to know in the comments below.
Looking for Fleet Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Fleet Management software solutions.