Certifications Through STMA Make a Big Impact

STMA offers two certification programs: one for the individual – the Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) program; and one for the facility – the Environmental Facility Certification program. Both provide considerable credibility to you with your employer, your community and your peers. These certification programs demonstrate independent confirmation of achievement and inspire confidence in the knowledge and competence of staff. 


The CSFM program requires successful passing of a four-section comprehensive exam. The exam covers agronomics, pest management, administration, and sports-field-specific management. To qualify to take the exam, sports field managers must have a combination of education and experience, or experience only (which requires more years on the job). Those taking the exam must achieve an 80-percent pass rate on each section. Once certified, CSFMs continue their education by acquiring CEUs and they renew their certification every three years. Also required is service to the industry, which are very broad activities. The CSFM can contribute articles, serve on industry boards, give presentations – just about any activity that advances the profession is eligible to be counted as industry service. The CSFM program has been in existence since 2000. To date there are 267 CSFMs. 

Environmental Facility Certification

The Environmental Facility Certification program has two components: assessment and attesting. The assessment is completed by the sports field manager, and covers 10 areas of practices: stormwater management, fertilization, pesticides/IPM, recycling, mowing, composting, energy conservation, shop buildings/storage, irrigation, and educational outreach. The Environmental Committee is adding two sections to the assessment that they will implement later this summer. The new sections include synthetic field management and managed landscape and open spaces. The assessment must have an 80-percent pass rate for each section. The attesting phase involves having a CSFM do a walk-though of the facility with the sports field manager to validate that the practices are in place. Renewal for this program is also required every three years by simply filling out a short form. This program began in 2016, and currently there are 43 facilities certified. 

Although these programs differ in requirements, they share common benefits. Certification demonstrates to employers that you are well trained, as well as committed to professional growth within your profession. Achieving one or both certifications ensure consistency of knowledge, technical skills and expertise. 

According to Indeed’s Career Guide, those who achieve certification may experience the following benefits: 

• Better employment or advancement opportunities within your current organization.

• A competitive advantage over other candidates in the market who don’t have a certification, as it verifies both skills and ambition through the initiative you took to obtain it.

• Higher earning potential.

• Possible tuition reimbursement for continuing education that enhances your own professional development and makes you more valuable to the company.

Field managers report that as certified professionals they earn more than their non-certified peers. According to the STMA Compensation Report, CSFMs receive $7,000 more per year in salary. Employers who use STMA’s job board increasingly request a CSFM to fill an open position. 

Facilities that have pursued the environmental designation cite their goal as being more conscious of the impact their facility management practices have on the environment. Those in the community who watch sporting events on certified fields know that the facility has met quality standards for environmental management practices. 

John Turnour, CSFM, Washington Nationals, stated, “When STMA began the Environmental Certification program, it was a natural decision on wanting to pursue this certification to bring awareness and recognition to the role that we can all play when it comes to being good stewards of the environment.”  

For more information on each Certification program, visit STMA.org and click on Programs. 

7 Reasons Why Employers Support Certification

1. More assurances in hiring. Because certification programs validate a skill set, employers are hiring a known entity with technical skills. They only need to focus on the “fit” within the organization during the hiring process.

2. Credibility in the community. The credibility that certification brings to a facility can be used effectively to distinguish an organization and its certified employees as leaders in the community. 

3. Happier employees. When employees are happier, they are more loyal and less likely to look for a new job. That means less resources needed for job searches to replace those that leave, and less time needed to onboard new employees.

4. Higher productivity. Boosted productivity results in more efficient teams and improves an organization’s bottom line.

5. More up-to-date employees. The continuing education component of certification programs keeps employees current with new technologies that save time and money. 

6. Better efficiency and lower risk. Certification is a recognizable commitment to excellence and competency. According to risk management consulting firm, Risktek, “By investing in people and focusing on the competency to carry out both routine and non-routine tasks, companies can build in considerable resilience to the risks they face and thus better prevent, deal with and recover from adversity.” Fields and facilities that are certified and managed by a CSFM provide the safest surfaces possible for athletes. 

7. Leadership development. Certification builds leadership traits including confidence, which develops future leaders and projects trustworthiness to those within and outside of the organization.