The Fleet Management Ladder

The National Association of Fleet Administrators offers technicians a new avenue for professional advancement

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has set a uniform standard of excellence for technicians, certified attainment of that standard through objective testing and recognized their accomplishments since 1972. Likewise, NAFA Fleet Management Association has defined and recognized excellence in the fleet management industry through its Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) program since 1984 with the ultimate objective of raising the level of professionalism throughout the industry.

NAFA's CAFM program is the oldest, largest, most comprehensive, most widely acclaimed and only college accredited professional certification program in the fleet management industry. The term "automotive" in the designation should be construed in its most general sense as self-powered vehicles. The CAFM curriculum encompasses managing fleets of sedans, public safety vehicles, trucks and buses of all sizes, as well as military and off-road equipment. Whether managing a fleet that is public or private, centralized or decentralized, leased or owned, domestic or global, the CAFM curriculum prepares fleet professionals to be successful.


The CAFM program is divided into eight disciplines, covering the essential core competencies of fleet management. The eight disciplines are now grouped into two tiers. The lower-tier consists of Fleet Information Management, Maintenance Management, Professional Development, and Vehicle Fuel Management. The upper-tier consists of Asset Management, Business Management, Financial Management, and Risk Management.

Fleet professionals of all types and college students may enroll as candidates for certification undertaking one tier at a time, or the full program all at once. In either case, candidates review the reference materials provided with the aid of the self-study guide until they are ready to test. They may also attend optional, instructor-led educational seminars and/or conference sessions designed to promote understanding of the more difficult core competencies. Testing is offered at training events but are also proctored wherever certification candidates live so that certification can be attained without ever attending class or traveling to test.

Successfully testing in all eight disciplines while enrolled in the full CAFM program earns the CAFM designation. Successfully testing in all four disciplines of the lower tier during a full CAFM program or lower-tier enrollment period earns the Certified Automotive Fleet Supervisor (CAFS) designation, which is new for 2009. Those who have earned the CAFS designation and keep it active through recertification may subsequently enroll in the upper-tier and earn the CAFM designation by successfully testing in the remaining four disciplines during that enrollment period.


Enrollment periods range from two to five years although some candidates complete the entire program in as little as four months. Current costs include enrollment starting at $349 for CAFS lower-tier only or $595 full CAFM for NAFA or partner association members, $200 per test session regardless of how many exams are taken in a session and $100 to recertify every five years. Enrollment fees are expected to go up slightly in 2009. All totaled, most candidates who pass the CAFM will spend less than $1,200 to do so. Successful CAFS candidates can expect to spend under $800 total. These costs may be tax deductible as a professional expense if the employer doesn't cover it.

For those candidates who want instructor-led training, the best investment is NAFA's annual Institute & Expo which is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25-28, 2009. Attendees enrolled in the CAFM program are encouraged to study in advance, test on Friday April 24th, attend CAFM Boot Camp sessions on those disciplines they haven't yet passed, and stay to retest on Wednesday, April 29th. The double test at this event is offered for a single testing fee and saves candidates $200. Can't make it to New Orleans this year? The Institute & Expo will be in Detroit, Charlotte, St. Louis, and Atlantic City in upcoming years.

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