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Professional Development Programs

To help you navigate your way toward a more rewarding career in the port industry, AAPA has developed several tools to guide your professional development. AAPA is the premier trade association for port professionals looking to advance their career. With two programs focused on developing the skills of industry professionals, come discover how AAPA can help you make the next step in your professional career.

Professional Port Manager (PPM®) Certification Program

The AAPA Professional Port Manager Program (PPM®) is an unparalleled industry credential designed to shape the future of port leadership and enhance port management professionalism. The online application period for the PPM Charlie cohort class of 2024 is OPEN NOW. This portal will remain open until April 4, 2022 (midnight). Be sure to gather your materials and follow the submission portal link to APPLY TODAY.

The PPM® Certification Program has gone through an optimization process, kicking off the new year with a brand-new experience. The newly updated program boasts an overall shorter program duration, cost efficient approach, monthly cohort advisory sessions, increased training opportunities through AAPA partner, the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives (IAMPE), and a virtual learning integration to the program. 


IAMPE and AAPA have teamed up to offer premier educational opportunities to port professionals all across the country. Both associations offer a variety of programs that are tailored to a wide range of professionals within the port industry. Through the PPM®, candidates will be able to attend professional development events and take advantage of networking opportunities. Visit IAMPE's Educational and Training webpage for more information about its course offerings. 

Virtual Learning Opportunities 

Life after the pandemic still holds many restrictions. In the updated PPM® Program, candidates are able to complete the program fully online and in a hybrid manner. Prospects are able to mix and match courses between AAPA and IAMPE, allowing candidates to pursue a number of trainings online. We want to ensure not only the success of all candidates, but their safety as well. All PPM® candidates will receive a 10% discount on IAMPE trainings through the program. This cost-effective approach to the program will allow candidates to save money, while still receiving a premier level of education. 

How To Apply 

In order to apply for the PPM® Certification Program, candidates must follow these five critical steps to be considered:

Step one, applicants must express interest to their Executive Director or Direct Supervisor at their respective ports. Candidates must be recommended by one of the two in order to qualify for program participation. Having a letter of endorsement from either the Executive Director or Direct Supervisor will only work to aid in your application process as well. 

Step two, applicants must choose a program advisor for the duration of the PPM® Program. This person must be from their port or organization and will act as a mentor to provide advice and support to participants during their program time. 

Step three, ensure your resume is updated. Is your resume up to date with your most recent accomplishments? Take a moment to look it over before submitting your application. A copy of your resume is required when applying for the PPM® Certification Program. 

Step four, take a moment to reflect on your career goals. Will participating in the PPM® Program help you to achieve them? Candidates must write an essay describing why they would like to be considered for the program, and how it will aid them in reaching their goals. 

Step five, check your budget and travel availability for attendance in the program. The refreshed PPM® Certification Program grants a shorter timeframe and a more cost-efficient approach, allowing participants more leeway than before. 

Ready To Apply?

The application portal is now open for the Charlie Executive Cohort. Be sure to gather all necessary items for your application and submit your application along with the required supporting materials by April 4, 2022. For additional information, please refer to our Charlie Cohort Marketing Flyer or reach out to Julie Barelas at

Take Note

Make sure to mark your calendars for the first REQUIRED course in the program - Marine Terminal Management Training and Executive Management. This training will take place on April 25-29 in Savannah, GA. AAPA will stay updated on travel limitations and release information regarding any changes in location, schedule or time. 

Download the PPM® Charlie Executive Cohort brochure or reach out to Julie Barelas for more information. If you are an active candidate in the PPM® and need help/support, or if you are interested in learning more about the program, contact Julie Barelas

“I found Lamar University’s Ports Introduction to Port and Marine Terminal Management course very interesting…Over the semester, we balanced the content with a host of visiting lecturers and subject matter experts from various segments of the maritime industry. I highly recommend the program and certainly the class. Whether a veteran looking to stay up to speed on industry trends or new to the industry, the course provided significant learning opportunities.”

-Larry Kelley, PPM, Executive Director & CEO, Port of Port Arthur Navigation District