As a recruiter exclusively focused on the aviation business, I’m often asked by our candidates how important obtaining a Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) credential is. And, with some consideration to their particular career track, nine times out of 10 my answer is resounding “yes.”

That answer is echoed by many CAM-holding aviation industry leaders, including Aviation Department Manager Scott Moore, Captain/Safety Manager Bryan Berkbigler and Director of Aviation Chris Lima. I’ll share with you some of their insights below.

In business aviation, a CAM credential identifies the bearer as a qualified professional, prepared to lead flight departments and to play a commanding role in companies that use business aircraft. I often compare it to a CPA.

For example, becoming a CPA as an accountant tells other professionals as well as their clients that they’re absolutely serious about the financial profession, that they’ve attained a level of proficiency in that particular body of knowledge. The same is true of holding a CAM credential.

Not only does the CAM offer a sense of personal achievement and the recognition of your peers and your employer, but the certification can often open doors for you that make it easier to perform your job at the highest possible level.

But, like a CPA, a CAM does take some thoughtful planning to measure the benefits of earning one against the upfront investment it takes to get there.

Benefits of the CAM Certification

The first question you might ask is what specific benefits you stand to gain by investing in a CAM certification? Plenty, according to the NBAA’s CAM program benefits overview. Among other rewards, they say you’ll enjoy:

  • An industry-recognized title that earns you a seat at the table of business aviation leaders.
  • A tool to help current managers begin a succession program for recognizing future leaders.
  • Added motivation to continue your professional development and stay at the top of the industry.
  • Access to a network of industry professionals to help you succeed.

These certainly are worthwhile, as anyone might agree. What I like about CAM is that it enables people to stretch, and gives them a way to say that they’re doing something “above and beyond” to prepare themselves for the next level.

CAM = Career Leverage?

One of the primary CAM benefits, in my opinion, is the leverage it offers job seekers in our industry. Many also believe they have much to gain from having achieved their CAM.

“Initially, it was just a personal validation of my career,” explains Chris Lima, with the PNC Financial Services Group. “But a couple of years ago, when I was unexpectedly searching for a job, it became a differentiator. My current reporting executive asked about the CAM designation on my resume during my interview, which led into a wonderful discussion about our industry, and became the focus of the interview.”

Bryan Berkbigler, of Scotts Miracle Gro, agrees. “When I lost my job five years ago due to a flight department closure . . . I received the most overwhelming support from many flight departments because I had my CAM certification,” he says. “This kind of response was proof positive that having a CAM is recognized industry-wide, and does, in fact, have its advantages.”

Point System Guide

If these benefits look like something you’d care to add to your professional profile, there are, in fact, certain requirements—prerequisites—that you’ll need to have in place before you embark on a CAM program.

The NBAA CAM program offers what’s called a “point qualification system,” a benchmarking tool to assist you in gauging your own readiness for the program. It’s fairly straightforward:  a list of aviation-related qualifications are assigned a point value, and the total number of points you’re awarded based on your particular qualifications help determine your readiness for the CAM distinction. The point value categories include:

  • Formal educational background
  • Employment history
  • Licenses and certifications you’ve obtained
  • Continuing education

Price of CAM Credential

Likewise, before you apply for a CAM program, you’ll want to understand the costs—what it takes money-wise to achieve the credential. While it isn’t too exorbitant, it’s not cheap, either. A very thorough cost breakdown can be found on the NBAA site.

The Luck Company’s Scott Moore estimates the price at roughly $1,000, start to finish. He adds, “Although my company didn’t, I think that many companies would pay for all or at least part of CAM certification.”

CAMs are Great, But “Leadership” Counts

Of course, having a CAM is not the “be-all and end-all” of professional achievement in the aviation industry. It’s a wonderful program, for certain, but the sort of knowledge having a CAM credential confers can never trump the actual practice of performing your job and performing it well. Being an aviation leader requires true leadership capabilities, and they are something that no high score on a test can ever offer or measure.

What the CAM says about you is that you’re the type of person who raises his or her hand and says “I can do that,” when something needs to be done. And that’s worth its weight in gold.

Your Turn

If you’re a business aviation professional with thoughts about how CAM program certification benefited you—or otherwise—we’d love to hear from you. Please share your insight in the comments section below.

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