CBTA For DGR: What You Really Need To Know

woman taking approved training program online

One of the recent controversial topics in the hazmat and dangerous goods industry is the IATA’s/ICAO introduction of competency-based training and assessment (CBTA) as part of the regulations for the shipping of dangerous goods by air. CBTA for DGR is meant to be an improvement upon the existing category-based dangerous goods training and is expected to make it easier for hazmat personnel to get the functional knowledge and training they need to comply with hazmat regulations and perform their job functions safely and efficiently.

The good news is that CBTA for DGR will have no impact on Hazmat University’s training programs and hazmat and dangerous goods employees and other industry participants requiring dangerous goods training can continue to pursue and complete their courses as usual. Nevertheless, it’s critical to understand exactly what CBTA is. How does it work and how does it differ from the existing approach to dangerous goods training? Let us take a look.

What is CBTA?

CBTA is essentially a framework for training people who are involved in the transportation of dangerous goods by air. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revised and updated the provisions for dangerous goods training in its Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) manual in order to make the transition from conventional subject-matter-based training to skills-based and competency-based training.

The provisions for competency-based dangerous goods training were developed by the Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). According to the IATA, the key aspects of competency-based training and assessment include:

  • Specifying the purpose of the training program, the list of tasks to be accomplished, and the requirements to be met
  • Identifying the skills and competencies that hazmat personnel need in order to meet all the necessary regulatory requirements and perform their job functions, duties, and responsibilities safely and efficiently
  • Developing the right training plan to help them achieve the necessary skills and competencies
  • Developing an assessment plan and the tools needed to gather valid and reliable evidence during the course of the training program
  • Developing the training and assessment materials to implement the training and assessment plans effectively
  • Developing a program evaluation report

The IATA believes that by incorporating competency-based training and assessment methodologies into their core dangerous goods training programs, employers can easily assess the skills and competencies of hazmat personnel and determine whether they can perform their job function safely and effectively.

Now, the question that many hazmat employers may have is: Is CBTA as different from the regular training for dangerous goods shipping by air? The short answer is – not really.

Competency Based Training and Assessment Program – What You Need to Know

To begin with, there is nothing new or radically different about the idea of competency-based training. It has been the norm in the US hazmat industry since the 90s. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all hazmat personnel to undergo hazmat training and include the following if applicable – general awareness training, function specific training, safety training, security awareness training, and in-depth security training.

Among these, function-specific training is meant to provide employees with the functional knowledge and skills they need and make sure they are competent enough to perform their job functions. It’s exactly what the IATA aims to do with its competency factors-based training method.

Data shows that competency is an extremely important metric that can be used to reliably predict successful performance at the workplace. It’s why the US DOT requires hazmat employers to train their employees and make sure they have the competencies needed to perform their job-specific duties and responsibilities.

The need for competency-based training stems from the fact that many countries around the world still follow the IATA’s category-based training. Regardless of how we decide to call required hazmat training, the introduction of CBTA is a welcome move, as it can help employers address the shortcomings in their existing training programs, improve the competency of their workforce, and make air transportation of dangerous goods safer.

In the United States, we have been doing competency-based training and enforcement for over three decades now. It has always been the responsibility of hazmat employers to ensure that their employees have the necessary training and competence to handle dangerous goods, before allowing them to perform their job-related duties.

Simply put, CBTA is not something that hazmat employers or training and assessment personnel in the US should be concerned about. You will be happy to know that nothing changes for you and BDG in 2023 and we will continue to do business as normal.

Frequently Asked Questions about Competency-Based Training and Assessment


CBTA is just another way of saying “function-specific” training, which is already required in the US and in most countries. BDG has always followed this standard.


The government of the United States has required this competency-based training (and assessment) since the early 1990’s with DOT docket “HM-126F.” At that time, US DOT also mandated HazMat (DG) Safety and HazMat (DG) Security Training came along after 9/11.


While the United States has had this training scheme for around 30 years, internationally, and throughout the airlines trade association (IATA), they didn’t always have the same thing. They had job “categories,” but it didn’t really focus on the needs of an individual employee.


IATA is a voluntary, non-governmental trade association that represents the interests of airline operators around the world. They can “mandate” CBTA as part of their voluntary membership requirements for the people operating aircraft and agents such as freight forwarders, but that in itself doesn’t carry any legal authority. The competent authority does.


Each country (called a “state” in international parlance) has their own designated “Competent Authority” and government law-enforcement agents to enforce the regulations. For example, in the US, the Competent Authority is the US Department of Transportation, and the main enforcement agency for air is the Federal Aviation Administration, also known as our “Civil Aviation Authority”.


Again, it’s more an issue of language… what many are calling “CBTA” is, again, another term for “function-specific training.” The CAA’s have always enforced this.


You may have seen intricate matrices of charts and job-categories along with competency-units, competency-elements, competency-assessments, and so on. This is a framework that IATA has built around CBTA. It may be an appropriate tool for your company to use, but it’s up to you as the employer to decide; it’s not legally required.

You don’t have to use a matrix, or any tool you find difficult – but you do have to ensure that each employee gets the appropriate amount of training at the right level, to ensure their competency in handling DG shipments.

Hazmat University’s Dangerous Goods Training Programs – Delivering the Results You Need

At Hazmat University, we offer the most comprehensive hazmat/dangerous goods training courses for individuals who are involved in the handling and transportation of dangerous goods by ground, air, and vessel. Our online training courses are designed and developed by industry experts with decades of experience in hazmat transportation.

We review, revise, and update our course material constantly to make sure our training courses cover the latest regulatory requirements for hazmat personnel. Our courses are function-specific and are designed to provide hazmat employees with the practical knowledge and competencies they need to perform their job-related duties in compliance with federal and international regulations.

We offer 49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG specific training courses as well as multi-modal training courses for hazmat personnel. Our training courses are interactive in nature, easily accessible, and can be completed at your own pace. To learn more visit  We Never Stop Learning – Training Reimagined 🎓. Call us today at 844-533-3049 or fill out our online contact form to find out more about our online hazmat training courses.

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