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In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Puzzling Thoughts On Compensation vs. Education

August 24, 2009, by Ed Bobit - Also by this author

While I'm a distance from being called an academic, I've always felt that education is the road to professionalism; and that professionalism leads to increased compensation.

This statement may have you thinking that it states the obvious. And in a sense it does if all other factors are relatively equal. There are many variables, but my recent re-review of the salary surveys that we conduct raises some interesting questions.

Regularly reading the statistical study reports and the case history features in Automotive Fleet has to be strong support in learning the fleet manager position. Being lucky enough to train under an experienced fleet manager is rare, but priceless to gain knowledge. Networking among your peers remains an invaluable resource.

Beyond these avenues, I have always been an avid fan of NAFA's CAFM program, especially with its current curriculum. Many believe, as I do, that it's a demanding but highly worthwhile project to conquer. And earning a diploma should enhance one's ambitions for professionalism and rewarded compensation.

An analysis of our salary survey prompts some head scratching; especially comparing education levels between commercial and public sector managers. Now, I'm not trying to enter longevity of service, age, sex, number of vehicles managed and so on; just education vs. compensation.

Commercial fleet managers with either an MBA or a CAFM degree tap out at between $87,500 to $90,000/year. Public sector fleet managers who sport an MBA or a CAFM scroll roll out at $89,000 to$91,500. Is that close or what?

Now the public sector guys/gals may or may not have a better retirement plan (not asked in study) and over 28 percent of them get a "company car" vs. 24 percent for the commercial counterparts, but even this still makes it close, in my opinion.

What's puzzling is that everyone I talk to insists that the public sector job is much more demanding in every aspect. Here you have to be thinking about maintenance shops, heavy trucks, off-road vehicles, longer life recycling, political influences, and a myriad of other factors that many commercial managers simply don't encounter.

Still, the compensation is amazingly similar.  Am I the only one puzzled by this anomaly? Help me out here.



  1. 1. John [ August 25, 2009 @ 03:37PM ]

    Hi Ed,

    I am a little surprized at your salary results. I am a public sector assistant fleet manager and just completed my CAFM. My current employer will offer congratulations but no monetary increase. They paid for the initial registration and one test setting. At the second test setting management would not pay and stated that I should have passed it at the first setting. Clearly they have no idea of the complicated study and test process and the value of having a CAFM on staff. I read one survey where it indicated that having a CAFM showed a ten thousand dollar a year increase vs not having the CAFM. My wife asked if I would get that raise. I told her not at my current employer. My goal upon completion is to make my self more marketable in the field of fleet. Looking at the co operation with Ferris State speaks of the value of the CAFM. I hope to be one of the first to complete the Ferris State program. At which point I can experience the increased salary from the CAFM. I hope to continue in public sector employ and experience the higher salary your respondents listed in the survey. Keep up the good work!

  2. 2. Tom [ October 09, 2009 @ 04:37AM ]

    The CAFM for managers, like the ASE for technicians, will never return full compensation vs what was invested: lots of time and money. Both programs show how determined the individual is to self improvement and willingness to take the exams multiple times usually at their own expense, only to renew/pay again 3-5 years down the road. I would hire an experienced ground up employee who has been on the shop floor environment for 25 years rather than a recent CAFM graduate with marginal shop experience. Both are qualified, but when it comes to the questions posed from tax payers, the answeres usually come from the shop experience.

  3. 3. Richard Battersby [ October 13, 2009 @ 12:41PM ]

    Unfortunately, it is frequently easier to upgrade a vacant position than it is to push through a salary increase, especially in the current economy. I think it's pretty rare to tote a CAFM certificate down the hall and walk away with a raise. Perhaps this is best established in advance as part of a professional development plan tied to a salary increase upon successful completion. Please continue to pursue the certification/s you are interested in. I have seen more job listings desiring or requiring CAFM, CPFP, or CEM lately. This continues to raise the bar as more and more employers specify an industry certification as a job qualification. If your current employer does not value the certification, you will most likely find one soon that does- with a better salary.

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflects on issues affecting today’s fleets. Drawing insight from his own experiences in the field, Ed offers a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.

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