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CAg - FAQ's

Chartered Agricultural Professional Scheme or Chartered Scheme: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Benefits of a Chartered Scheme?

There are numerous benefits of a Chartered professional scheme for professionals in the agriculture sector. Many other professions have embarked on this journey including safety, engineering, geologists and miners, and recently the management profession in Australia.

Here are a few:

  • It provides another professional grading for Ag Institute Australia (AIA) Members at a higher level that can be aspired to
  • Increasing the focus that individual professionals in agriculture put into meeting increasing client expectations
  • Demonstrating your leadership and higher-level commitment to professional development
  • Show that you have demonstrated industry and sector level leadership
  • In the longer term the Chartered Scheme will become an industry standard and will form the basis of any government recognised standing for agricultural professionals
  • Build trust in the advice given to the sector
  • It is a rigorous scheme with an exam and auditing
  • The product will be open to non-AIA members who can apply to join the scheme

A broader discussion of the benefits is highlighted in the Chartered Scheme handbook.

How will this Scheme be different to the current AIA professional development recognition program (i.e. CPAg)?

CPAg is a scheme that requires members to undertake and record activities that contribute to continuing professional development (CPD). CPD is now a base requirement of most associations in agriculture and NRM. The Chartered Scheme takes that significantly further by establishing other criteria that also needs to be met. These are:

  • Minimum qualifications (one-off requirement)
  • Level of professional work experience 
  • Recognised by a relevant professional organisation e.g. having CPAg, CPSS, etc
  • Understanding professional ethics (via an exam) (one-off requirement)
  • A demonstration of meeting professional standards (one-off requirement)
  • Showing that individuals are using a reflective learning process (one-off requirement)

These are in addition to continuing professional development (CPD).

As described in another FAQ, there will be alternative pathways for professionals who are unable to meet the post graduate qualifications requirement (in point 1 above). A description of alternative pathways is given in the membership gradings document for 2019.

I haven’t signed up to the CPAg Scheme because I don’t think I’ll get any benefit out of it. Why would I sign up to become Chartered?

With the professional world quickly becoming more focused on accountability, companies and organisations in many industries need proof that the advice given to them is reputable, credible, accurate, and reliable. One of the most effective ways this can be done is by industry ensuring that this is the case (i.e. through self – regulation). This is not infallible, however, as shown in the Australian Banking Royal Commission. But professionals are being held to account nevertheless. There will be increased requirements and expectations of advisors employed in the finance sector. And it won’t stop with the banks and the prudential sector. It will apply to all who work as so-called “professionals” in their respective industries.  

CPAg requires you to achieve and to report on your continuing professional development (CPD) achievements. Being Chartered, on the other hand, you will be capturing your CPD points (just as a CPAg would, however, you will be expected to be gaining these at a level appropriate to your professional standing).

A Chartered Member for example could be advising the government and talking with the media on complex issues such as the Murray Darling Basin water sharing plans or being able to articulate the arguments for and against a live animal export trade to peers, for a client, the media or for the government.  

Therefore, both schemes are important professional gradings. But they serve different purposes. Both recognise professionals at different stages of their careers. Those professionals holding the Chartered Member grading will therefore be active as recognised industry leaders who may or may not be members of the AIA. For AIA Members, CPAg is therefore an important stepping stone towards achieving the Chartered status.  

What qualifications do I need to have in order to be eligible for being recognised as Chartered?

The formal qualifications of AQF of 9 or above (i.e. master’s level) are required (master’s in agriculture or related field) OR Bachelor Honours, Graduate Diploma in Agriculture or related field plus a Masters in any other field OR via an alternative pathway for meeting this requirement will also available. Examples of alternative pathways include active board level representation, executive work experience, author of submissions to government inquiries or industry guide/book relevant to sector, research lead on recognised project, expert witness (relevant to sector), consulting industry reports, and industry/guest lecturer and others.  See the attached for the alternative pathways: 

What is CPD and why is CPAg important to professional development?

The Continuing Professional Development (or CPD) requirement is one of the foundational elements of the Chartered scheme, and in fact, will be common to both the existing CPAg accreditation and the new Chartered scheme.

The Chartered scheme is considerably more rigorous than CPAg because. This means it considers other factors in addition to continuing professional development (CPD), which is the basis of CPAg. Another way to look at this is that it provides a new professional grading.

With the Chartered scheme, we are providing an opportunity for industry leading AIA members, as well as non-members, to be further recognised in the sector. 

Chartered Agricultural Professionals will be required to undertake Continuing Professional Development (i.e. CPD) to demonstrate their commitment to lifelong learning. Those AIA members that are active in the CPAg program meet this requirement as long as they continue to undertake CPD. Some of you may have been current with your CPAg in the past, but for various reasons, haven’t participated recently.

The Chartered Scheme will require that you achieve 60 CPD units over a three-year period and applicants will need to demonstrate that they have achieved this. This will be consistent with CPAg and you’ll use the same system. If you chose not to apply to become Chartered, that is fine, you can still use CPD to gain or maintain your CPAg status. 

It is important to note that meeting the CPAg requirement will be a requirement for being a Professional Member of the AIA starting in 2019. This is a reasonable expectation if you desire to be a Professional Member of the AIA. If you look across the various agricultural professional groupings, you will see they all have their own accreditation requirements. We are taking the step to make that part of our membership process.

The implications of this is that if you haven’t been keeping track of your continuing professional development, or tracking your CPD, then now is THE time to start preparing for doing this. For those of you in other industry bodies as well as the AIA, you may already be doing this e.g. as a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, or other affiliations, then you know the process. In fact, many of the CPD points you gain with other institutions will be valid for your AIA CPDs and vice versa.

The CPD process is an important discipline. It helps you keep track of what you have been learning and encourages reflection on that learning.

By requiring at least, a master’s level qualification, isn’t the Chartered scheme elitist?

No. The Chartered Scheme is designed to recognise Industry Leaders in the field. It is a recognition that shows the expertise of the advice given, based on knowledge and experience in a specific knowledge area.  We are also providing alternative pathways for those professionals who are unable to gain postgraduate qualifications (see the Chartered Scheme explainer presentation):

Why will non-AIA members be able to gain recognition under the Chartered scheme? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having a value proposition for AIA members?

The AIA is one of a number of industry organisations that provide specialist information to the farming, rural and NRM sector (e.g. Irrigation and horticulturists). These all have similar CPD-based programs at the level of the CPAg level. At times the information to client stakeholders (Government etc) can be fragmented and indeed conflicting. The Chartered Scheme is aimed to identify individuals who have the skills, knowledge, competency and recognition to identify and work through the complex issues and work with other organisations to provide research-backed information that balances the different issues that our sector faces.

Who will administer the Chartered Scheme?

The AIA’s role has been one of a stewards of the Chartered Scheme framework development and taking it forward to the next stage of early piloting.  The Chartered scheme is being set up by the AIA but is based on a skills, experience, meeting professional standards and ethics framework that can cover many professions working in agriculture and NRM. Over time, as the Chartered Scheme matures, a separate organisation could form representing leaders and adopters (of the Chartered Scheme) from each of the adopting industry organisations, to be able to provide a common face for the range of professionals who give advice in the Agricultural and NRM industry.  

Isn’t the Chartered Scheme like setting up another university-styled program?

No. The Chartered Scheme relies on other professional bodies to provide evidence of an applicant’s veracity of technical standing and capability, along with tertiary institutions that issue formal qualifications. For example, if someone from the Soil Science Society of Australia applies, then as long as they are currently CPSS certified, then they would meet the professional accreditation criteria of Chartered. They will still need to meet the other Chartered criteria i.e. for qualifications, professional work experience, understanding professional ethics (via a short exam), a demonstration how they meet professional standards, and evidence of their continuing professional development (CPD).  We are not prescribing the completion of specific courses.

If I am a CPAg, can I use the same CPD process for maintenance of my Chartered status?

Yes. The different levels should be showing the different learnings that are needed. For example, a Practitioner Member may look at learning about a new process or product. A CPAg (Professional Member) may look at operational learning or giving specialist advice. When Chartered, you may be involved in research, government submissions or policy development for large organisations.

We have been listening to the concerns of members regarding the CPD process. As of 2019, the AIA will be streamlining the CPAg and Chartered process for the eligibility and recording CPD points.  We are also broadening the range of eligible CPD activities for both CPAg and the Chartered Scheme. It is more encompassing of the activities that advisors and consultants, so it is no longer skewed towards academic-type activities. Every 3 years a Chartered Professional must complete 60 points of CPD (continuing professional development). Note that CPAg and the Chartered Scheme have been re-aligned to reflect this.

This expanded list is now available online:  

We are grateful to the AIA members who have contributed their valuable time to advise us in this important area and to express their concerns that if we didn’t adopt, would have led to a suboptimal Chartered Scheme.

Will there be any transitioning of current CPAg holders into the Chartered scheme? When will the transitioning be available until?

Yes. 30th November 2018.

I have been in the farm consulting profession for many years but am now progressing toward retirement. Unlike younger professionals, I don’t believe that either CPAg or Chartered qualifications will help me do my job better, enhance my reputation or attract clients, at this stage of my career. I have been a member of AIA (and AAAC and AIAST previously) for my entire professional career, and I would be disappointed if I could not continue membership for my remaining working life and in retirement, simply because I might not elect to go through the process of achieving the Chartered grading. I understand that meeting the Chartered grading, or at least CPAg, requirements will be mandatory for continued full membership of AIA. Is that correct? 

Meeting CPAg requirements (not Chartered) will be mandatory as of 2019 to become a Professional Member. But it is important to note that there will be more membership categories in 2019 reflecting the more diverse array of professionals seeking to join the AIA. That means seeking opportunities for professional development and keeping track of this (refer to the Chair’s Column from Weekly Alert 18). This is a fundamental requirement for the majority of associations and professions today.  

If you don’t have CPAg and you wish to gain the Chartered status there will be a process members and non-AIA members will be able to follow to achieve it. While the Chartered grading will be more demanding than accruing and recording professional training or CPD (as has been the case with CPAg), it will enable you to demonstrate your professionalism and get recognised for your industry leadership.  These additional areas (requirements) will be: 

  • Required qualifications (or an alternative, equivalent pathway) 
  • A demonstration of being able to meet a set of professional standards
  • Professional work experience  
  • Recognised by a relevant Professional organisation in agriculture or NRM (if a non-AIA member) 
  • Understanding professional ethics (through a short exam)

I have just read through the requirements for Chartered registration/membership and the reply to the question in your Chairman’s comments in Weekly Alert 22, but the response does not address the issue of emeritus members of AIA. As a Fellow, Medallist and retired member of AIA and AIAST (I retired 12 years ago), it appears that unless we demonstrate current CPAg qualifications (I did when it was operational during my career), our membership of AIA will lapse in 2019. Is that correct? If so, it fails to recognise the contribution of emeritus members to agriculture and agricultural standards during our working life.  

We appreciate the diversity of our members, some of which are now retired and wish to keep active membership, which is both important for members as well as for the Institute and industry as a whole.  I encourage members to start thinking through what the new CPAg and Chartered Scheme requirements for 2019 will mean for you, including impacts on time, costs, but also the benefits. 

In this situation, our member is retired.  We know the member has demonstrated sector leadership (as a Medallist), as well as being recognised for leadership in the AIA (as a Fellow) and has previously held CPAg. This member would be eligible for the Chartered status, i.e. Chartered (Retired), due to the fact they have met the CPAg criteria during their professional working career.  

Note that current CPAg holders will be transitioned to the new Chartered status (or professional grading). We are doing this in recognition of your commitment to the AIA and to your professional development. As mentioned in previous Weekly Alerts, the AIA Board and National Office is working through the transitioning process including for how long this window will be open for. Once this period is closed, members, like other eligible applicants, will be required to work through the new application process which we will streamline and make as straightforward and relevant as practical. 

The Scheme, as it has been designed and presented, is for recognising industry-level leadership. Why wouldn’t you design a scheme to target all members of the AIA to achieve a Chartered status?

The Chartered professional grading is for sector and industry leaders. It is anticipated that members of the AIA, as well as applicants from related organisations (who are not AIA members), would aspire to the new grading to allow their investment in professional development, and their extensive leadership experience, to be recognised.  Other associations that have made the shift to a professional body, and who introduced a certified status, all have elements of industry leadership in scheme requirements. However, not every applicant for the Chartered Scheme will slot straight into the Chartered grading. The CPAg CPD program is however open to a wider group of professionals who are not yet recognised as sector leaders and this makes it an industry first for Australian agriculture and NRM.  

I have been following the Q&A process on the Chartered Agricultural Professional (Chartered) Scheme and there seems to me to be some confusion (maybe it is only me) about what will be required for anyone who is not prepared to look at Chartered qualifications to continue as a member of the AIA. I am still a full fee-paying member and Fellow covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance, a key need for any true consultant. I would be very disappointed if the thrust of the Chartered scheme (which I applaud) were to deprive me of future membership. It appears on the surface, to me, that the requirement for membership will be Chartered and this will be required for everyone wishing to become or remain a member. Is this the case? 

 The short answer is no. In your case you don’t need to gain (or qualify) for becoming Chartered to remain in the AIA. Given you are a Fellow of the AIA, then we recognise your contribution to the organisation, and you remain as a Fellow and you have clearly met the CPAg requirements so will become a Professional Member.  

Most members that are not retired, and currently working as professionals, are likely to be undertaking CPD activities that are developing them as professionals e.g. attending professional events, talking and presenting at conferences and meetings, attending seminars and webinars, undertaking advisory work for clients, writing papers, reading material relevant to your profession, etc. As a member of the AIA, it makes sense to capture this, gain CPAg, and keep your membership.  

If you stop being a member, you will lose the right to use post-nominals, which has always been the case. If and when you re-join (from 2019), you will re-join from scratch, following the new membership requirements. 

What do we put after our names once we gain the Chartered status?


How will the Chartered Scheme be marketed?

One of Divisions raised this and it of critical importance. This is currently being considered by the Chartered Committee of the AIA Board. It is expected that individuals will share their professional status to clients and communicate it on their professional resume.  As its use and importance increases, it is expected that it will become an industry standard. Further it will need to be budgeted for and investments made.

Won’t the Chartered Scheme be like the Ag Credited Scheme?

No. We have taken on the lessons learnt from that scheme and ensured we avoid the mistakes we made as an association at that earlier time.

So you know what was required of that system, the Ag Credited system was set up in 2006. The requirements for accreditation were as follows:

  • Being an AIA Member
  • Payment of a fee (for administration)
  • Successful completion of 5 core competencies at the Diploma Level (AQF 6) (all of which had to be paid for)
  • At least 3 years level of relevant work experience
  • Signing the AIA Code of Ethics

The Chartered Scheme has learnt from the experience with this system. While there will still be a fee for administration of course, and requisite work experience, the new scheme is more rigorous (e.g. for qualification requirements), has auditing built in, requiring an examination of understanding of practical ethics, benchmarks for professional standards, and it will also be open to non-AIA members. We are saying up front, the new scheme is not going to be a an easy, check the box exercise, but it will set new benchmarks for our sector.

What will be the measures of success for the proposed Chartered Scheme? How will the AIA know it has been successful in delivering the scheme?

The following are some measures of success of the scheme:

  • Employers ask for it and expect it
  • University curriculum developers look to it as a standard to align agricultural curriculum development to
  • Government at all levels recognise the scheme

What is the long-term vision for the Chartered Scheme?

It is our intent to have a “broad church” with applicants coming from a range of areas in agriculture and NRM, recognising that the shape of agriculture, and the range of professionals working in the sector, is changing. Being Chartered will be a professional recognition that will be for agricultural and NRM professionals to aspire to.  It is expected that in time, universities and other influential institutions including governments will seek to align their curricula/employment criteria with the requirements of the Chartered scheme.

Do you have a Question?

All the questions here are those that have been asked by members since we started talking about the Chartered Scheme. If you do have questions, please send yours through. The AIA Board is interested in your opinions and views on this. Please send them through to the National Office or to the Chair at