Becoming a Certified Member of the AAAE

Portrait of Jeff Alexander wearing a dark colored jacket, a white shirt and blue patterned tieLike other industries, aviation offers accreditations to help you grow in your career knowledge. One example is the Certified Member (C.M.) accreditation through the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). The C.M. is a valuable credential for young aviation professionals and industry veterans alike. The designation shows the aviation community that an individual has a well-rounded understanding and knowledge of airport operations. Professionals who receive the C.M. designation can upgrade to the Accredited Airport Executive (AAE) program after meeting additional requirements.

Study at your own pace

The C.M. course includes four modules, known as the “Body of Knowledge”:

  • Module 1: finance and administration
  • Module 2: planning, construction and environmental
  • Module 3: airport operations, security and maintenance
  • Module 4: communications and community relations.

Once a candidate has paid their registration, they receive electronic access to the Body of Knowledge modules. For those with limited experience in airport management or who have not worked at multiple airports, some of the course information might be overwhelming. For example, if a candidate has no experience at a commercial service airport, they might have limited working knowledge of Federal Aviation Administration Part 139 or Transportation Security Administration Part 1542 security requirements. The benefit of the C.M. certifications is that a student will gain a broader knowledge of many airport topics while remaining in their current professional position. The course is self-paced, so individuals can study as much or as little as they wish. Some advice from my experience is to make a valid effort to remain consistent and read through all the material. Procrastination and inconsistency will only make studying more difficult. But the effort is well worth it.

How to study

While not required, I would highly recommend attending the AAAE/South Central Chapter AAAE Loretta Scott, AAE, Accreditation/Certification Academy. This training course provides a breakdown of all the information in the four modules and prepares you to succeed. Be prepared to allow a full week to study the information in all four modules.

Offered multiple times a year, this course is also offered virtually. It runs one week, Monday through Friday, with the exam Saturday morning. Again, even if the candidate has extensive airport knowledge, I highly recommend reading through all the material, taking notes and creating flash cards prior to taking the training course. When you attend the training course, befriend the other candidates and form study groups. Everyone is there to succeed.

I had the pleasure of attending the Loretta Scott training course several years ago. Although I was nearly 10 years into my aviation career, I was nervous. Even though I was familiar with the material and was using much of Module 2 in my day-to-day career, there was an enormous amount of information coming at me in a short time.

About the test

The exam is 180 multiple-choice questions. To pass, candidates need to score at least 70%. This equates to 126 correct answers out of 180 questions. The exam incorporates a variety of questions from across the modules studied throughout the week. After passing the exam, new Certified Members receive a certificate of completion as well as the privilege of using the C.M. credential.

The training course has a high passing rate. If you stay focused, study hard and remain calm throughout the course, you will most likely succeed. For more information on the program, visit AAAE’s Certified Member Program website. Best of luck to all the future C.M. candidates, and I look forward to welcoming you to the C.M. family!

Jeff Alexander, C.M., is an aviation planner in Hanson’s Orlando, Florida, office. He can be reached at