The value of becoming a CSFM

Attaining the Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) status from the STMA means you will be looked upon as a leader in the industry. It will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment and it can even improve your current or future employment prospects.

Becoming a CSFM is meant to challenge your knowledge of managing sports fields and to draw upon all aspects of your background in education and experience to prove that you are one of the best in the industry. Meeting the challenge can contribute to your professional advancement in sports turf management.

Many CSFMs report that becoming certified was a great learning experience; other benefits include the official recognition of your skills as well as your demonstrated commitment to excellence. Anecdotally, earning the CSFM status can mean an increase in your earning potential.

Materials available at include: credentialing information, detailed CSFM competency list, study resources, educational requirements, fees, application and more.

Earlier this spring we posed some questions about the program to several members of the STMA’s Certification Review Panel, including: Rick Perruzzi CSFM, CPRP, CPSI, recreation manager of outdoor athletic facilities, South Portland (ME) Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront; Josh Glover, CSFM, CPO, CPSI, parks superintendent, Town of Wake Forest (NC); Will Rogers, CSFM, sports turf manager, Clover (SC) School District; and Jason DeMink, CSFM, head groundskeeper, University of Michigan.

Why did you seek certification through the CSFM program?

“At the time and still to this day it can be difficult to be viewed as a professional at the park and recreation level as a front line employee,” Perruzzi responded. “I felt that I needed to change that stereotype not just with management but within the community that funds our operations with their tax dollars. I felt that being certified would allow me to have more influence in the decision-making process with management. Now, 13 years later, I am involved in every aspect of the decision process when it comes to outdoor athletic facilities.”

Glover said, “Obtaining the CSFM designation was a requirement of my new position at the Town of Cary – USA Baseball National Training Complex. Upon being hired, I was given 1 year to obtain the CSFM certification.”

“Two reasons: I wanted to prove to myself that I could become a CSFM and pass the test; second, for advancement at my current job,” DeMink said.

“I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could pass the exam,” Rogers said. “I am honored to be a CSFM and I think it shows people that I am serious about the sports turf industry.”

How did you prepare for the exam?

Glover said, “Using the CSFM Detailed Competency List, I made countless notes that were used to study, and I also used notes and textbooks from my college turfgrass classes to help prepare, as well the Practice Exam. I also studied with others who were taking the test at the same time, or had previously taken it.”

I prepared by first looking over the comprehensive outline to try to determine what my strengths and weaknesses were so as to focus my attention on those weak areas,” Perruzzi said. “After determining my weaknesses, I used two main resources to study with: the University of Georgia’s “Certified Turfgrass Professional” course and Sports Fields: A Manual for Design, Construction and Maintenance by Jim Puhalla, Jeff Krans and Mike Goatley. I felt that those two resources were the best that I had at my disposal so as to not overwhelm myself with too much information.”

Will Rogers responded, “The STMA website gives you a list of books and I chose three, one of which was a math book.”

“I took practice exams and studied textbooks from when I was at Michigan State,” DeMink said.

What benefits have you experienced from your certification?

“I have received a higher salary after passing the exam,” said DeMink.

Perruzzi said, “Obtaining CSFM status has been probably the best thing to happen to me professionally. It opened up more opportunities for me to be more creative in my job as a sports turf manager and allowed me the opportunity to climb the ladder professionally, as I am now the outdoor athletic facilities manager. My employer was able understand the fact that when I ask for resources or try new products that I have done the research to support such requests. The increase in credibility has made this process easier, but with credibility comes accountability, which is part of being a professional in any line of work.”

“I think other sports turf people respect you more,” Rogers replied.

Along similar lines, Glover said one benefit is being recognized as being among the best sports turf managers in the field. “I have obtained other certifications in other areas that relate to my current job, all of which do the same thing as CSFM certification—labeling me as having a definitive level of expertise in sports turf management. And it does open up new employment opportunities as well.”

How might the program be improved?

“I feel that improvement in the program can be established by getting more people certified. Even though the number of certified members has grown over the years, there are a lot of folks out there at all levels that are doing tremendous work in the industry but I feel that some feel overwhelmed when looking at the process of being certified,” Perruzzi said. “We as a committee have worked hard over the years to try to remove that label and to make folks understand that, yes it may be hard, but it is also fair in how the process has been developed and maintained through the years. One thing I can say: As a self-called “self-taught idiot” like me can pass the exam, then so can anyone else if they put the effort into it. The more certified members we have then the more voices we have to promote the certification process and grow its numbers.”

DeMink said, “It could be improved with better wording on some questions.”

“Marketing and making organizations outside the STMA aware of what the CSFM designation means, and promoting individuals who have earned it, said Glover.

Rogers said, “I don’t want it to become a numbers game. Continue with HIGH STANDARDS!”

Newly certified

Christi Clay, CSFM, CLT, is sports stadium manager, North Area Athletic Complex, Golden, CO where she works with STMA Schools K-12 Board member Sun Roesslein, CSFM.

“I attained my CSFM certification in July 2017. My decision to become a CSFM was a personal challenge to take the extra step for professional development and commitment to the sports turf industry and I am very proud of this accomplishment,” Clay emailed. “I prepared for the exam by taking the online practice exams and reading both editions of Sports Fields – Design, Construction & Maintenance as well as Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management.”

Grizzled veteran

Mike McDonald, CSFM, building and field supervisor at the University of Minnesota, has been certified for nearly as long as the CSFM program has existed. He emailed that he sought certification to increase his professionalism and participation in his local STMA chapter and community. “I have always been proud of this accomplishment.

“It hasn’t been too difficult at all [to keep his certification updated over the years]. Being involved in your local STMA chapter makes it pretty easy, actually. Between serving on a couple committees, doing our community service project, attending meetings, and helping with the certification process for other CSFMs and stadiums, not to mention going to the national Conference, it all worked out well,” McDonald wrote.

“From my employer I really haven’t seen any benefit from being a CSFM, though it might have helped out on my getting to go to the national STMA Conference, but certainly I have had more recognition and respect from my peers, locally and nationally.”