Want to increase your ROI? Consider fleet management certification

By Karen ScallyMarch 17, 2021

The profit is no longer in the iron for heavy equipment fleet management. It’s in how you perform the job, says Matt Cox, director of asset management for Lehman-Roberts.

The right training is key to creating efficiencies, and fleet management certification can help elevate asset managers into increasingly valuable roles in their organizations.

In the past, Cox says heavy equipment owners would often focus on winning work to at least cover the equipment they had financed.

“If you bought a piece of equipment, let’s say a road grader, and you financed it for $300,000, all you had to do was get enough jobs to pay the note on that,” he says. “At the end of the term, if you had some residual value left over, the profit was literally in the iron sitting in your yard. And that’s absolutely not where we’re at today.”

Current fleet managers need to master distinct skills to control their department’s costs. Cox says the Certified Equipment Manager (CEM) designation he earned from the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) has been instrumental in shaping processes that pave the way for profitability.

The AEMP offers a certificate program (Equipment Management Specialist) and two certifications (Certified Equipment Manager and Certified Equipment Support Specialist) for fleet professionals, and it provides the only resources specifically designed to professionally develop equipment managers, says Donte Shannon, FASAE, CAE, the CEO of AEMP.

“We offer everything from fleet management and maintenance essentials to financial management to benchmarking. We have a number of core content areas focused on education and training to give the full breadth of being a holistic, successful equipment manager,” Shannon says. “So the investment … comes back sometimes even tenfold to the company, because your staff person is learning how to create efficiencies in order to save the company money.”

Fleet management certification can help hone the skills needed to control heavy equipment costs (Photo credit: Lehman-Roberts)

How can you tap into the value that fleet manager certification provides for you and your organization? Read on to find out.

Available fleet management certificates and certifications

Equipment Management Specialist (EMS)

What it is: The Equipment Management Specialist (EMS) certificate course is designed for those who are new to heavy equipment fleet management (less than five years of experience) or as the first step to get a CEM designation. It is also ideal for organizations that are looking to create an equipment manager role, covering 17 core competencies essential for asset management.

Format: Self-guided online program available through AEMP University

Time commitment: Estimated 35-40 hours; course materials available for one year after enrollment

Requirements: No requirements

Certified Equipment Manager (CEM)

What it is: The Certified Equipment Manager (CEM) is the industry’s premier recognition of fleet management qualifications, demonstrating a mastery of five standards and 17 core competencies.

Format: Exam offered during in-person AEMP Connect and Equipment Shift conferences or at a local certified testing center

Time commitment: Four to five hours spent studying each chapter of the Career Equipment Fleet Manager Manual

Requirements: Minimum five years of equipment management experience plus 25 “points” of accumulated experience and continuing education hours in order to complete the application packet for the exam

Certified Equipment Support Professional (CESP)

What it is: The Certified Equipment Support Professional (CESP) is designed for dealer, supplier and other vendor representatives to demonstrate superior knowledge of fleet management requirements in order to better serve their customers. The designation covers what a CEM needs to know plus material specific to customer support.

Format: Exam offered during in-person AEMP Connect and Equipment Shift conferences or at a local certified testing center

Time commitment: Four to five hours spent studying each chapter of the Career Equipment Fleet Manager Manual

Requirements: Minimum five years of equipment management experience plus 25 “points” of accumulated experience and continuing education hours in order to complete the application packet for the exam

Preparing for fleet management certification

AEMP offers a course, called the IGNITE Learning Lab, to help individuals prepare for their CEM and CESP exams.

Traditionally, the course has spanned two to three days and took place in conjunction with the association’s Connect and Equipment Shift conferences, held every spring and fall.

While the IGNITE Learning Lab is not required in order to take certification exams, participants had the option to take the exam upon completion of the course as part of the in-person events.

However, in 2020, the pandemic forced changes to the course that the association was already considering.

The Association of Equipment Management Professionals offers a certificate program and two certifications for fleet professionals (Photo credit: SMS Equipment)

“The organization has been talking for the past three or four years about transitioning this program to an online format,” Shannon says.

In early 2021, the AEMP launched a revamped course for the web, featuring instructor-led study over a seven-week period. At the beginning of each week, recorded instruction, taught by a team of experienced CEMs, and handouts covering a new focus area are released. Quizzes help participants assess how well they are absorbing the material, which should take about four to six hours a week.

Also new for 2021, IGNITE participants can also add on an interactive peer mentoring component to review materials and discuss questions.

“This pairs you with someone else who is also going through the IGNITE course, so it’s like having a study buddy,” Shannon says.

In the future, IGNITE will be offered twice a year at in-person events and twice a year online. The next IGNITE Learning Lab begins online on May 3, and interested participants can learn how to register here.

Students that participate in the course online who want to take their CEM or CESP exams afterwards can do so through AEMP. The Certification Commission is considering the advantages of moving the exams to an online format as well.

Does fleet management certification expire?

The CEM and CESP designations must be renewed every five years by completing 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during that time; no retesting is required.

Further information about the fleet management certificates and certification is available at www.aemp.org (Photo credit: SMS Equipment)

AEMP offers about 35-40 CE hours each year that can be obtained by attending its conferences or webinars, participating on committees, and serving in volunteer roles. The association also recognizes relevant CE opportunities available from outside organizations.

New for 2021, Shannon says AEMP will begin offering regional in-person meetings in April, starting with one in the greater Chicago area, that will also offer CE hours. The one-day meetings will follow all Covid safety guidelines and have a 50-person capacity.

What’s next if you’re interested in fleet management certification?

Shannon says the next step for fleet professionals interested in pursuing further development through certification is to discuss the value of this investment with their employers.

Further details, including tuition costs, are available at www.aemp.org.

If fleet professionals encounter questions from their employers or budget is not available to fund professional development, Shannon encourages reaching out to the association’s leadership.

“We certainly want to be able to work with people who may not have the resources to invest personally, but just need to be able to get engaged with us,” Shannon says.

Looking for more content designed to provide additional insights for heavy equipment management? Sign up for the Gearflow newsletter here.

Karen Scally is a journalist who has covered the construction industry for over a decade and a current contributor to the blog at Gearflow.com, which is an online marketplace for construction parts, tools, and equipment. This article was adapted from its original version, “How to Prepare Now for Future of Electric Construction Equipment,” on the Gearflow.com blog.

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