Dangerous Goods Trainers Association – FAQ on the CDGP Certification

By Gene Sanders and Jim Powell – Dangerous Goods Trainers Associationwww.dgta.org

What is a CDGP?

A CDGP is either the Certified Dangerous Goods Professional certification, or the person that holds that certification.  It’s probably equally correct on a practical basis to use the term CDGP to refer to either one.

So, what is the CDGP Certification?

The acronym stands for Certified Dangerous Goods Professional.  Someone who has passed standardized proficiency exams in multimodal Dangerous Goods Transport

Is this a certification for shippers or carriers?

A CDGP could be employed by a shipper, a carrier, a packaging company or a DG training provider.  The CDGP is independent from the employees job role.  Whatever job function the person holds, the CDGP attests to their proficiency and professionalism in Dangerous Goods transport across all types of supply-chain partners.

Does this mean that the CDGP applicant has to be an expert in everything?

At least enough of an expert to find the answer in the regulations themselves to just about any regulatory question.  An applicant must have several years of DG experience, a couple of references, and pass an open-book examination on the regulations.  The exam questions cover everything from classifications through operations, security to training, containment to emergency response, history to document retention, and much more, for all sizes in all modes.  The scope of the exam may sound intimidating, but no question is permitted on the exam unless the answer can be found in the regulations.  After all, the examination process is an open-book exam.  The student must have the appropriate modal regulations to take the exam.

What sets of rules does the student use to take the exam?

First there is the model regulations or “Orange Book” from the United Nations that is in many ways the underpinning of DG regulations worldwide.  While it is a set of “recommendations” some countries, especially in Latin America have codified them into national legislation.  So the Orange Book is a good foundation for worldwide DG regulation.  Next the student must have the air regulations, either the UN rules found in the ICAO Technical Instructions or the commercial airlines own rules in the IATA DGR.  Finally, there are the ocean DG transport regulations as found in the IMDG Code.

How is the CDGP different than the DGSA?

To begin with, there is no one DGSA.  I have a DGSA, but my DGSA isn’t necessarily the same as everyone else’s DGSA.  I got mine in ADR, all classes.  But I had the option of trying for a DGSA in IATA/ICAO instead of ADR.  And some DGSAs are for a limited number of hazard classes, not all of them.  So, conceivably the areas of knowledge and expertise for two different individuals holding DGSAs might not have any overlap.  And of course, different nations have different exams, some likely tougher, or easier, than others.  On the other hand, there is only one CDGP, and only one CDGP exam.  It’s all classes, all modes, and does not vary by nation, country, state, nor region.  There are other differences, too, such as a DGSA being required by some regional authorities and the CDGP being a voluntary, independently accredited credential, and the exam formats.  But, in my opinion, the biggest difference is that all CDGPs are created equal, something not true of a DGSA.

How does one get ready for a CDGP exam?  Are there prep courses, such as there are for DGSA?

Yes, there are CDGP prep courses.  A schedule is available on the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association www.dgta.org website under the resources tab. As the number of CDGPs continues to rise, and as more and more DG experts want one for herself/himself, the demand for CDGP prep courses will rise, and other trainers will step up to meet the demand.

Who is the DGTA?

The Dangerous Goods Trainers Association is an international group of DG Transportation Training Professionals.  We were founded in 2010 and were granted Observer Status at the United Nations and we regularly participate in the UN Subcommittee Meetings on Dangerous Goods Transport.  We are the only Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the UN meetings in Geneva with a sole focus on DG Training. Many of our members have earned the CDGP credential.  We are currently presenting a paper at the next UN meeting co-written with the MDBTC on the topic of training standards amongst UN member states.

What happens after a CDGP is earned?  Why get one?

IHMM, the certifying agency, has had another “hazardous materials” certification for decades longer than the CDGP has been around.  Although the other certification is only 9% transportation, and thus 91% occupational and environmental, there is some information related to it that is probably applicable to the CDGP as well.  A study has shown that holders of the certification make more money annually than do equally qualified persons without the certification.  In other words, for equivalent experience, training, and education, a person makes a higher salary with the certification than without.  Presumably, this will prove true with the CDGP as well.  And of course, when looking for new employment, a CDGP is an independent, non-biased way to demonstrate DG expertise to potential employers.  Thirdly, in logistical interactions regarding the movement of DG, a CDGP is a great way to convince the other involved parties that you actually have a clue about what you’re doing.  Sort of instant credibility.

What was the role of the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association in creating this standard?

The CDGP was first brought to life through the DGTA in cooperation with some Environmental and Safety Organizations.  We soon realized that this certification wasn’t just about trainers – it would be a credential for shippers, forwarders, carriers, and other intermediaries, as well as DG trainers.  So DGTA teamed up with the largest DG/Hazardous Materials Professional Association in the world, the IHMM (which stands for the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management) with over 27,000 members. The IHMM represents a broad spectrum of Dangerous Goods Professionals with over 17,000 homeland security, environmental protection, engineering, health sciences, transportation, and public safety professionals earning the IHMM’s accredited Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM®) credential.

The CDGP is IHMM’s newest credential and is backed by the ANSI standard for training, recognized worldwide.  Again, the CDGP focus is strictly on multi-modal Dangerous Goods Transportation and is a complement to the CHMM standard for which the IHMM is best known.