The American Public Works Association (APWA) has launched the Certified Public Fleet Professional (CPFP) program, the latest in a series of professional development initiatives administered by the organization to promote excellence in the public works industry.

The role of public fleet management has evolved over the years from providing high-quality, low-cost repair service to asset management and related business functions. The Public Fleet Professional Certification program is designed to ensure individual competency and provide the public works industry with recognized hiring and promotion standards.

The CPFP is designed for seasoned, career local government public fleet managers and those with experience in the field and interested in a credential that will promote a career in public fleet management. The Public Fleet Professional Certification system includes an eligibility application process, multiple-choice test, and recertification application process.

Members’ Needs Assessed
APWA began the process of assessing members needs for a certification program and determining the “core” requirements for that certification.

In January 2005,APWA appointed an expert panel to provide oversight for the comprehensive job analysis of public fleet management. Specifically, a study was conducted to determine and comprehensively describe the public fleet manager’s job, evaluate the description through rating job incumbents, and define areas to be assessed in the certification examination.

A survey of public works directors across the United States and Canada indicated they would value APWA Certified Public Fleet Professional credentials in developing a job posting and selecting a new fleet manager.

Exam Topic Emphasis Weighted
After determining the required knowledge base, identified areas were given relative weights. The weights were assigned after surveying fleet industry experts, both public and private, APWA and non-APWA members.

Based on survey results, the CPFP exam will develop testing topics according to the following weighted importance:

  1. 20 percent – Operations: maintenance of vehicles, equipment, and fixed equipment; parts; facilities management; fuel and lubricants management; and repair policies and strategies.
  2. 17 percent – General Development and Business: establishing credibility/marketing (both internal and external), strategic and business planning, customer service and collaboration, emergency preparedness, and ethics.
  3. 16 percent – Asset Management: needs determination, research acquisition, utilization, vehicle replacement and disposal, equipment and fixed equipment, and parts.
  4. 14 percent – Financial Management: budgeting, cost recovery, fleet operating purchasing, vehicle replacement funding, and recordkeeping.
  5. 13 percent – Human Resource Management: staffing, work environment, employee training, policies, and procedures.
  6. 8 percent – Risk Management: workplace safety management, vehicle damage, contract compliance, regulatory compliance, and security.
  7. 7 percent – Environmental Management: shop best practices and regulatory compliance.
  8. 5 percent – Information Management and technology systems.

If this sounds like a daunting amount of information to cover in preparation for an examination, it is. And, rightly so. A certification program worthy of the APWA brand must cover the duties and knowledge necessary to operate a successful fleet department in a public agency.

After core requirements were determined, the next phase of the certification process was bringing in public fleet professionals from across the U.S. and Canada to develop exam questions. After an extensive review, the exam committee and governing counsel felt the exam covered all aspects of a professional fleet manager’s job responsibilities.

Exam Schedule Set
All the preparatory work has been completed. The examination questions have been refined by the professional testing company who prepares and validates the exam.

Examinations have been scheduled for the following dates and locations:

  1. April 21 – St. Paul,Minn. Exam application deadline: March 22.
  2. September 8 – San Antonio, Texas. Exam application deadline: August 9.

It’s time for the public fleet professional to take his or her job to the next level by becoming a Certified Public Fleet Professional.

Achieving Public Fleet Professional certification is a significant accomplishment that attests a public sector fleet professional has successfully met rigorous eligibility criteria and passed a comprehensive examination.

For more information and a copy of the CPFP eligibility application, visit or contact Becky Stein, APWA certification Manager, at (816) 595-5212, or

Sam Lamerato is fleet maintenance superintendent for the City of Troy, Mich., and serves as chairperson of the APWA Certified Public Fleet Professional program task force. He can be reached at