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Professional Port Manager (PPM®) Certification Program

The AAPA Professional Port Manager Program is an unparalleled industry certification designed to shape the future of port leadership and enhance port management professionalism. Enrollment for the class of 2021 opened October 1, 2016 and closes February 1, 2017. To apply please contact Rex Sherman: or (703) 706-4706.

PPM® class participants receive a 20% reduction in seminar and conference registration fees being taken to meet PPM® course requirements.  For more information, contact Colleen O'Sullivan.


The American Association of Port Authorities offers the designation of Professional Port Manager (AAPA/PPM®).  The designation AAPA/PPM® is intended to further the AAPA’s goals to enhance port management professionalism.  The program assists public port authorities, marine related organizations and agencies in hiring or promoting qualified seaport managers and professionals.  A secondary objective is to publish selective written materials and make them available as educational and informational sources to AAPA members.


Many organizations provide some formal process through which members can fulfill requirements necessary for the successful achievement of an advanced professional certi­fication. 

The AAPA/PPM® program has been a successful program that has advanced the goals of the organization by ensuring that port managers are well versed in numerous fields.  It has allowed "up and coming" port managers to participate in conferences with their peers, and prepare for their career advancement.  

AAPA/PPM® papers have been a wealth of knowledge that is a resource for association members. 

The program is based on interactive groups or “classes.” 

The objective of the program is to provide a rigorous, meaningful experience for candidates, enabling them to build relationships, gain practical experience, and strengthen professional credentials.

AAPA/PPM® Eligibility

  1. The candidate must be a full-time employee of an AAPA member public port authority, port agency or a maritime related organization that has risen to an appropriate level within the organization. At a minimum the candidate must have had manage­ment responsibilities for at least five years prior to the date of enrollment in the PPM® program.
  2. A candidate to the program must be nominated by his/her port director or at minimum receive a letter of support from the port director.
  3. Selection into the PPM® program is an honor. Applicants will be reviewed, evaluated, and selected for enrollment in the program by the Curriculum Committee.
  4. Applicants will be enrolled in a specific "class," rather than as individuals, and will work and attend programs as a group in a term lasting four years.

AAPA/PPM® Program Requirements

Minimum requirements to participate in the AAPA/PPM® program are: 

  1. The candidate must be is a full-time employee of a Public Port Authority, Port Agency or a maritime related organization with management responsibilities and must have  held  such management position for at least five  years prior to the date of enrollment in the AAPA PPM® program.
  2. Applicants to the program must be nominated by their chief executive officers or at minimum receive a letter of support from their chief executive officers.  
  3. Applicants will be reviewed, evaluated, and selected for enrollment in the program by the Curriculum Committee.

AAPA/PPM® Certification Requirements

Candidates will be enrolled in classes, rather than as individuals, and will work and graduate as group in a term lasting four years from the date of enrollment. 

Candidates are required to attend the Executive Management Conference and Marine Terminal Management Training Program as a class.  Candidates are also required to complete all of the following core seminars:

  • Facilities Engineering Seminar
  • Infrastructure Development & Financing Seminar
  • Energy & Environment Seminar
  • Public Relations Seminar
  • Security & IT Seminar 

The candidate must also attend any three of the following elective seminars:

  • Cruise Seminar
  • Shifting International Trade Routes
  • Maritime Economic Development Workshop
  • Port Administration and Legal Issues Seminar 
  • Information Technology Seminar

One of the elective requirements may be fulfilled by successful completion of a relevant non-AAPA seminar or training program, such as those sponsored by the Seatrade Organization, The International Association of Ports & Harbors, the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Council of Logistics Management, the National Asso­ciation of Foreign Trade Zones, the Inter­national Navigation Association (PIANC) and the University of New Orleans, but only with the express consent of the Curriculum Committee. 

Candidates will not be required to repeat courses they have taken within five years prior to AAPA/PPM® enrollment. 

The candidate must participate actively as a member of an AAPA standing committee for the entire four year AAPA/PPM® program term. 

The candidate must complete a project.  There are three options for meeting the project requirement, all of which are subject to review and approval of the Curriculum Committee: 

  • Prepare and present an original written paper or document on a topic that advances port management theory or practice.  Upon submission, the paper shall become the property of AAPA, and the candidate shall relinquish and waive all interest, property or otherwise, therein.  The Curriculum Committee will approve the topic and an abstract of the paper in advance.  The final written work must also be reviewed and approved by the Curriculum Committee. 
  • Candidates or a group of Candidates may assist (similar to serving in an unpaid consultant capacity) a port on a specific project, such as a strategic plan or economic analysis. Consulting on a specific port project is subject to approval of the Curriculum Committee and candidates would be required to summarize their experience and contribution. 
  • Candidates may arrange for a “residency” of no less than two weeks at another port. The objective is to gain experience and expertise from another port environment and to bolster professional relationships. Participation in the residency option is subject to approval of the Curriculum Committee and candidates would be required to provide a detailed written report to the Curriculum Committee on their experiences from such residency.

PPM® Curriculum Committee

The Curriculum Committee is responsible for reviewing curriculum requirements for the attainment of the AAPA PPM®, as well as AAPA PPM® maintenance requirements.

The AAPA Chairman of the Board shall select, as members of the Curriculum Com­mittee, port directors or senior-level port managers who are acknowledged as leaders in the port industry and widely respected for their knowledge and experience.  The Curriculum Committee members should be representative of AAPA’s diverse ports and regions and will ideally include port professionals who have received the PPM® designation. 

The Curriculum Committee, supported by AAPA staff, will regularly review AAPA/PPM® program requirements.  One area requiring particular continuing attention will be the identification of all non-AAPA education and training programs that are determined to be appropriate to fulfill the requirements listed in “AAPA/PPM® Requirements.” 

The Chairman of the Board will appoint a Chairman of the Curriculum Committee.  The Committee may select a vice-chairman and organize itself, as it deems appropriate.  Committee members shall serve for a minimum of two years.

Training Manager

A training manager selected by AAPA President with the approval of the Curriculum Committee will oversee the management and implementation of the AAPA/PPM® curriculum and will work with the classes and students to ensure adherence to the program’s objectives.

PPM® Candidate Advisors

Each AAPA PPM® candidate will submit for approval by the Curriculum Committee the name of a port director or senior level port official to serve as his or her advisor.  The advisor will assist the candidate in developing and completing a proposed specific curriculum, schedule and research paper to be submitted to the Curriculum Committee.  The Candidate Advisor should be an experienced manager and  must be approved by the Curriculum Committee.  It is anticipated the Candidate Advisors will themselves be AAPA PPMs®.


AAPA will provide an AAPA/PPM® certificate to each person earning the designation; will publicize the list of persons receiving the desig­nation in AAPA publications; will recognize those earning the designation during the AAPA Annual Convention; and, encourage the port employing those earning an AAPA/PPM® designation to publicize such achievement within their port, city and region.

Effective Date

The revised PPM® program criteria and requirements apply to applications received on or after October 25, 2009.  PPM® candidates enrolled in the program prior to that date may choose to complete their PPM® certification under the previous requirements or join the initial class of the revised program.


Decisions of the Curriculum Committee may be appealed to the AAPA Executive Committees.


The Board authorizes the Projects and Publications Committee to enact such fees as are necessary to cover all costs associated with administering the PPM® program are $100 for AAPA members and $250 for non-AAPA members.  PPM® candidates receive a 20% reduction in seminar and conference registration fees being taken to meet PPM® course requirements.

Revocation of Designation

The Curriculum may revoke the AAPA PPM® designation for the following reasons:  there is determined to be a violation of the rules or other conduct not appropriate to the standards of professional port management; or the relevant AAPA PPM® requirements are not main­tained.  Such action may be appealed to the AAPA Board of Directors.


For additional information, please contact:

Rex Sherman
American Association of Port Authorities
1010 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia  22314
Phone:  703-684-5700
Fax:      703-684-6321