Just last year, I started working to earn my Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) designation through IPI. I have two degrees in civil engineering and professional engineering registrations in a couple of states, but throughout years of arduous years of study and training, the closest my classmates and I came to learning about parking was some coursework on the design of a surface parking facility. Very few universities or programs teach parking as a discipline.

Next time you get in a room of parking professionals, ask, “How did you get into parking?” I bet their various backgrounds range from business to transportation, design to policy, and everything in between. A lot of our industry leaders are self-made and self-taught. Many of them began as cashiers or operations staff and worked their way into parking management, and this background provides them with a strong knowledge of the industry. Thankfully, IPI recognizes this and uses their expertise to drive the CAPP program. These innovators are the same people who are leading the training in the classroom.

More importantly, the next round of parking innovators is sitting in the audience. While I have found great value in the materials presented in the CAPP class, my greatest takeaway has been the network of people I have met there and the knowledge I extract from them. These folks include a wide spectrum of public operators, private operators, municipal managers, airport parking managers, university parking and transportation directors, equipment manufacturers, and consultants. This broad cross-section provides a much more well-rounded experience for me and all CAPP candidates.

If you are considering the program, ask a CAPP candidate or graduate about the importance of a good education. You’ll invest both time and money in CAPP for sure, but my recommendation is to jump in feet first. The knowledge and network you develop may very well send you to the head of the class in your program and our industry.