ASE Certification: Meaning, Importance and Requirements
Updated February 3, 2023
If you're a mechanic who wants to prove your skills to employers, consider obtaining an ASE certification. This credential from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence helps you demonstrate your expertise in different areas of automotive repair and maintenance. Your certification can help you advance your career by improving your job opportunities and earning potential.
In this article, we discuss the meaning of an ASE certification, explain its benefits and list the requirements for earning it.
What is an ASE certification?
An ASE certification, or an Automotive Service Excellence certification, is a credential for automotive technicians that highlights their repair and maintenance skills. Individuals can earn this certification by gaining relevant experience and passing exams. This qualification helps customers and employers recognize your ability to work on any mechanical or electrical components found in the specified vehicle.
Related: Learn About Being an Auto Mechanic
What are ASE specialties?
Those who pursue the certification can choose a specialty they would like to focus on, such as brakes, engines or suspension. Individuals can also focus on specific vehicles or equipment, such as buses and trucks, allowing them to continue developing as automotive technicians. Other examples of ASE specialties include:
Compressed natural gas
Collision damage estimation
Heating and air conditioning
Manual drive train and axles
Painting and refinishing
Why is an ASE certification important?
Here are a few reasons why earning an ASE certification is important:
Improves customer satisfaction
Earning an ASE certification can help attract new clientele because it shows that individuals working in a particular garage or automotive shop have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform vehicle maintenance. Leaving their car with someone they know is qualified and knowledgeable in vehicle repair can help customers feel a sense of ease and trust. Shops with at least one employee with an ASE credential can advertise their business as ASE-certified, notifying customers of their qualifications.
Widens employment opportunities
Holding an Automotive Service Excellence certification can help increase job opportunities for auto mechanics. Candidates with an ASE credential can show employers they have the skills and the expertise to examine and repair vehicles effectively. It can benefit individuals with an ASE certification in a particular specialty or field because it can allow them to explore employment opportunities in unique job markets. For example, auto mechanics who receive a certification servicing school or commercial buses might be more desirable to businesses that service those vehicles often.
Related: Learn About Being a Mechanic
Increases entrepreneurial opportunities
While an ASE certification can make you a more desirable candidate to employers, it can also help you start your own business. Being an entrepreneur in this field gives you more flexibility with scheduling and pricing and how you offer your services. You can increase the chances of enjoying these benefits by obtaining certification. The credential helps you foster customer loyalty when you don't have an existing reputation.
Receiving an ASE credential is not an easy feat because it requires a few years of work experience along with the completion of several exams, depending on the chosen specialty. Not all automotive shops and garages require technicians to become ASE certified to perform their primary duties. Acquiring the credential can help individuals demonstrate their dedication to their career and desire to become field experts.
Contributes to career development
Some colleges and institutions can give individuals the ability to put their training and experience with the ASE certification exams toward an associate or bachelor's degree, often in a related field, such as automotive repair or technology. This degree can help you continue to develop as an automotive professional and help your resume become more noticeable to employers. If you're hoping to use your ASE certification toward credits for an undergraduate program, contacting different schools and seeing which programs might allow the transfer can be helpful.
Related: Learn About Being a Service Adviser
Offered by a reputable governing body
When researching mechanic certifications, you'll likely find programs from many organizations. It's important to choose one that the industry deems reputable. The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence certifies thousands of mechanics nationwide. Obtaining certification through this organization validates your qualifications and may even be necessary to fulfill job description requirements.
What are the requirements for an ASE certification?
Here's a list of the requirements necessary to pursue an ASE certification:
1. Gain relevant experience
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence requires that individuals gain relevant experience in auto service and repair before pursuing the certification. On average, individuals need at least two years of experience, but the number of years can vary depending on the specialization in which they're interested. For example, most general repair technician exams require two years of experience, while the advanced exams require at least three.
There are several options individuals can pursue to receive automotive experience, including entry-level technician positions and automotive apprenticeships. Apprenticeships can allow individuals to gain hands-on experience while learning impressive technical skills for their careers. Many apprenticeships offer individuals part of the position's full salary as they train and develop.
2. Choose a specialization
Before taking any of the ASE certification exams, it can be important for individuals to decide on a specialization. There are many test series that individuals can choose from, such as light automobiles and truck equipment, as well as different focuses in each series, such as electrical systems installation and engine performance. Depending on their interests, auto mechanics can pick multiple certification series and focuses to test in.
When choosing a specialization, it can be beneficial for individuals to choose their focus based on their previous work experience. This can allow them to continue developing and gaining technical skills they can use in their current employment. For example, if an auto mechanic is pursuing an apprenticeship at a shop that services diesel engines, it might be beneficial for them to pursue the Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist Certification.
3. Pass the ASE certification exams
The final requirement for receiving an ASE credential is to pass the certification exams. The tests often require a registration fee on top of a cost per test. Once they register, technicians receive the necessary study materials and practice tests to help them prepare for the exams. When preparing for the exam, individuals can find it helpful to review relevant material with their trainers or apprenticeship mentors.
Individuals then travel to a local testing center to take proctored exams. After the exam, they often receive their scores by email after a short period. Once they pass and receive their certification, mechanics might be required to renew their credentials by retaking certification exams every couple of years, depending on their occupation and place of residence.
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