CCAF's pro manager certification a valuable tool

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- In January 2011, the Community College of the Air Force created a Professional Manager Certification to recognize the leadership training and experience possessed by active-duty and reserve senior NCOs and qualified technical sergeants.

The certification is an especially valuable tool for reserve senior NCOs seeking advancement in their civilian careers. So, last December I decided that my New Year's resolution would be to get my PMC and show other reservists how to get theirs, too.

I began by going to https://augateway.maxwell.af.mil/ccaf/certifications/pmc/ for more information on it. The requirements include having your 7-level, a CCAF degree, completion of Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy and SNCO Academy (in-residence or by correspondence), a recommendation letter from your unit commander and 30 semester hours of leadership/management course work through professional military education and at least six semester hours through an accredited civilian college or subject tests through the College Level Examination Program and Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support.

Eligibility expires when the member retires, separates, or becomes commissioned, so the time to get started is now.

I already had my 7-level and a CCAF degree, and completed the PME requirements, but I was unsure how many leadership or management credits I had. To find out, I got my CCAF Web Progress Report from the Base Education Office. I learned that I received eight credits for ALS in-residence, eight credits for NCOA by correspondence, and four credits for SNCOA by correspondence, for a total of 20 credits. I needed 10 more semester hours of acceptable management credits to be eligible for the certification. I could fulfill this requirement by taking college courses or by testing through CLEP or the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests. I decided that the latter would be better since it would fit my busy schedule better than enrolling at a local college or university. Plus, the tests are free.

The information website had a list of acceptable courses to fulfill the Professional Manager Certification requirement and, luckily, Wilmington University at Dover Air Force Base offered the CLEP and DSST computer-based tests I needed. Within six weeks, I completed the Principles of Management CLEP, as well as the Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior and Principles of Supervision DANTES tests, earning three credits each. Taking four exams in such a short amount of time made life a little hectic, but the tests were not difficult, and study guides were available online.

Once I completed the academic requirements for the certification, I needed to get a letter of recommendation from my unit commander, as well as transcripts showing the credits I earned through the tests. I ordered my official transcript from CCAF, assuming that the CLEP and DANTES testing credits I earned would appear there. I was wrong. Once you receive a CCAF degree, the school no longer adds CLEP or DSST credits to your transcript. Instead, I had to go through Prometrics, the company that provides CLEP and DSST transcripts (http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/clep/clep-military-transcript-order-form.pdf). Once I received my transcript, I drafted the nomination letter (https://augateway.maxwell.af.mil/ccaf/certifications/faa_pubs/Sample_Letter.pdf). After my commander signed it, I scanned it and the Prometrics transcript and emailed them to ccaf.deal@maxwell.af.mil for processing.

It takes about 60 days for CCAF to process the package, but it's worth the wait. Reserve senior NCOs have been trained throughout their careers to communicate effectively, lead people and play a vital role in one of the country's largest organizations. Regardless of what they do in their civilian careers, qualified reservists can finally have proof of their management training and experience in the form of a Professional Manager Certification, offering valuable opportunities for career advancement now and long after separation or retirement.

(Sergeant Warga is an individual mobilization augmentee reservist assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing Legal Office)