Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Charting a career path in maintenance management.

While the educational experience remains the same, the new model is changing the way students can integrate the program into their working lives. Courses are now available online or on CD, and will eventually be online exclusively and updated every four months, to coincide with testing dates in February, May and October of each year.

"We're aware that the shelf life of a lot of the information changes quite quickly, and we're interested in being ahead of the curve," Dunne says, adding that NAFA will be announcing more training and certification news later this year.


Today, Hilmer is thinking ahead to his CAFM recertification, required every five years. By March, 2009, he has to earn 80 "credits" in areas such as community service, making legislative contacts, writing articles for publication, attending local NAFA educational programs, and attending the NAFA Fleet Management Institute.

"I have to be out there participating in the fleet world, not just sitting here in my shop doing things the way I think they need to be done, thinking I don't need to talk to anyone else," he says.

For Hilmer, the CAFM has benefited him in countless ways. "The knowledge gained from the program has really helped me to be able to communicate intelligently with folks in Legal, Finance or Risk Management about specific situations," he says. "They often seemed to be surprised that someone from Fleet is familiar with their areas of expertise, and it has given me credibility when I have issues which need to be resolved."

For more on the CAFM program, visit www.nafa.org.

Don't think CAFM is for you?

If the CAFM program from NAFA doesn't suit your needs, there are two alternatives, offered by the North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI), of Denver, CO.

Joel Morrison, director of business development for NATMI, describes the two fleet maintenance certification programs offered by this not-for-profit organization:

"In the maintenance area, we offer two programs. The first one is Certified Supervisor of Maintenance and Equipment, the second one being Certified Director of Maintenance and Equipment.

"Certification validates a skill set, but the benefits are different for everybody. Most people will say, "I want to improve my managerial or technical competence," or, "I'd like to have a credential that advances my career, but I'm also looking for something that establishes my professional reputation," or, "I want to improve my on-the-job performance." Some folks come to us because they want their credential recognized in courtroom testimony. The real value, from our perspective, is performance improvement.

"In maintenance, it's one thing to learn how to fix the equipment; it's another thing to learn how to manage the operation of maintaining it. This program fills in those gaps."


"The difference between our Supervisor of Maintenance Certification and our Director of Maintenance Certification is that one person implements policy, the other person writes that policy. Our certification program takes into account how many years of experience the person has. For example, the Supervisor of Maintenance Certification requires that they have a minimum of two years of experience in the maintenance field. The Director of Maintenance Certification requires five years in the maintenance field, or four years with a four year college degree. There is also certain expertise that is also taken into account.

"The Director of Maintenance Certification candidate is a full-time administrator, demonstrating their capability of handling a position which involves establishing programs, writing policy, setting standards, developing materials and providing leadership to achieve goals set in the shop.

"The Supervisor of Maintenance Certification candidate is typically going to be someone who was on the shop floor and has been made a supervisor now, at the shop level. It's taking that person and transitioning him from a technician to a supervisor role.

"The Supervisor of Maintenance Certification candidate implements the policy written by the Director. Those supervisors are the people who have the ability to carry out policy and program directives. They are expected to administer programs, provide leadership at the shop level, and engage in the development of programs that are established by their managers.

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