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The Mechanic's Path to ASE Certification

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute May 15, 2018 ·

When you’re looking for a doctor, you might seek out a clinician who is “board certified.” This stamp of approval by the American Board of Medical Specialties gives consumers confidence the doctor has all the proper education and skills to provide quality care within that specialty. This certification is not the same as a license, as in, it’s not necessary to practice medicine but it’s a big selling point for patients and a prestigious distinction for doctors.

The automotive industry may not have a board, but it does have the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), a non-profit, independent organization tasked with testing and certifying automotive mechanics and technicians. It exists for the same purpose as the medical board: to ensure proper education and skills within various specialties.

While you can work as a mechanic without ASE certification, having it distinguishes you from others and improves your employability. Keep reading to learn all about the history of ASE, the various types of ASE certifications and tests, the benefits of becoming certified, how to become an ASE master technician and more.

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ASE HISTORY: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is an independent, non-profit organization that was created to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals since 1972. In its 47-year history, ASE has certified almost 300,000 automotive technicians and service professionals.

The ASE certification program benefits car owners, repair shops and auto professionals:

  • Car owners can count on ASE certified technicians to complete even the most complex repairs.
  • Repair shops can qualify for the Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program, increasing visibility in their markets.
  • Auto professionals earn the recognition and respect they deserve in the industry based on their knowledge and skills.

WHAT IS ASE CERTIFICATION?

ASE certification exists to improve and maintain the quality of vehicle repair and service. It sets the bar for the entire industry and keeps individual technicians accountable to a set of standards. It’s not a regulatory body but it does vouch for reputation, specialty and quality within the automotive industry.

ASE works in a few different ways. First, technicians are certified, not the service facilities they work in. Everyone within a service facility can be certified but the shop itself cannot be. Second, students can work toward certification before graduation. Finally, ASE has a unique process for accrediting automotive training programs, aside from the certification program. UTI holds this prestigious accreditation

HOW TO BECOME ASE CERTIFIED

All Universal Technical Institute instructors hold ASE certification, making them a go-to resource as you consider earning yours. Because of the rigorous and comprehensive curriculum at UTI, graduates are well prepared to undergo the ASE certification requirements, and it’s often one of the first steps graduates take as they enter the automotive industry.

To become certified, you must:

  • Gain hands-on work experience. You’ll need two years of on-the-job training. As a UTI graduate you will automatically receive one-year of that two-year (Yes, this means all UTI grads have a head start achieving an ASE repair technician certification.) Read more about the rules on the ASE website, which is where you can also submit the form for work experience.
  • Pass a written test. There are between 40 and 50 different ASE tests available — everything from electronic diesel engine diagnosis to school bus certification. Find the specialty you want. Then pop the hood and get studying. These certification tests aren’t easy. In fact, only two-thirds of test takers pass on their first try. Let this motivate you to study hard, not discourage you from taking the tests altogether.

TYPES OF ASE CERTIFICATIONS

The ASE offers a wide variety of certification tests that cover almost every aspect of the automotive service and repair industry. When you’re just starting out, the ASE recommends familiarizing yourself with the following information:

  • Format: Certification tests are typically between 40 and 75 scored, multiple-choice questions. These questions are designed to measure your knowledge in various content areas specific to your certification.
  • Test Development: Test questions are crafted and approved by carefully selected industry experts and focus on the scenarios you may experience in day-to-day work situations.
  • Recognition: Upon fulfilling your work experience requirement and passing one or more tests, you will receive the Blue Seal of Excellence.
  • Fees: At each registration window, there is a $36 registration fee. There is an additional $43 fee per test and $86 for the L1, L2 and L3 tests. Recertification tests costs the same: $43 per test and $86 for advanced tests.
  • Work Experience: ASE certification requires you to have full-time, hands-on work experience, or a combination of formal training and experience. To learn more, visit the ASE website.

The individual test series offered by ASE range from truck equipment certification tests to damage analysis and estimating certification tests. To learn about the individual tests within each series, select your desired certification below.

Say you’re new to the automotive industry and have pursued a career in auto repair. You might take one of these tests, all part of the Automobile and Light Truck Certification (A1-A9).

Within this category are nine tests offered, each with between 40 and 50 multiple-choice questions.

  • A1 – Engine Repair
  • A2 – Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
  • A3 – Manual Drivetrain & Axles
  • A4 – Suspension & Steering
  • A5 – Brakes
  • A6 – Electrical/Electronic Systems
  • A7 – Heating & Air Conditioning
  • A8 – Engine Performance
  • A9 – Light Vehicle Diesel Engines

Take one test for certification in a specific area or work toward passing eight (A1-A8) for Master Automobile Technician Status.

H2: WHAT TO EXPECT & HOW TO PREPARE

Maybe you looked into tech schools so you could work in automotive because you’re not the “book-studying, test-taking” type. You should know the tests are created by committees of automotive professionals, technicians and aftermarket manufacturers, not by academics who’ve never laid hands on a car before. This means the questions are relevant and process-based. They’re about practical issues you might run into on a daily basis. They’re also screened by multiple people, meaning poorly written or confusing questions are unlikely to squeak by.

ASE offers study guides, as well as official ASE practice tests to help. It even provides a series of sample questions you can answer within the testing platform, so you’ll know exactly what to expect on test day. You can take the exam at an ASE test center, or UTI students can take them on campus. Once you’re ready, register for the test by creating a myASE account.

ASE offers study guides, as well as official ASE practice tests to help. It even provides a series of sample questions you can answer within the testing platform, so you'll know exactly what to expect on test day. You can take the exam at an ASE test center, or UTI students can take them on campus. Once you're ready, register for the test by creating a myASE account.

HOW TO BECOME AN ASE MASTER TECHNICIAN

At this point, you may be wondering how to achieve ASE master technician status. In addition to documenting two years of relevant hands-on work experience, you must pass a specified group of tests in a series. The tests required for each series are listed below:

  • Automobile: The tests needed for Master Status include A1 – A8
  • Collision Repair: The tests needed for Master Status include B2 – B5
  • Medium-Heavy Truck: The tests needed for Master Status include T2 – T8
  • School Bus: The tests needed for Master Status include S1 – S6
  • Transit Bus: The tests needed for Master Status include H1 or H2 and H3 – H8
  • Truck Equipment: The tests needed for Master Status include E1 – E3

Those who are certified in any combination of tests 2 through 7 in the Medium-Heavy Truck, Transit Bus or School Bus test series also have the opportunity to earn Master Medium-Heavy Vehicle Technician Status. Requirements include:

  • Diesel Engines: Pass one or more test in H2, S2 or T2
  • Drive Train: Pass one or more test in H3. S3 or T3
  • Brakes: Pass one or more test in H4, S4 or T4
  • Suspension & Steering: Pass one or more test in H5, S5 or T5
  • Electrical/Electronic Systems: Pass one or more test in H6, S6 or T6
  • Heating, Ventilation & A/C: Pass one or more test in H7, S7 or T7

To learn more details about earning Master Technician status, visit the ASE website.

ASE RECERTIFICATION: HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

Those who hold ASE certifications must recertify every five years. If you previously achieved Master Technician status and one of your required certifications expires, you lose your Master Technician status. However, you can regain it by taking ASE’s recertification tests, even after your certification expires. Upon passing your original ASE test, you only need to take the recertification test—no matter how much time has passed since it expired.

To make the renewal process simple, ASE offers a myASE Renewal app. Using your desktop, tablet or mobile device, you can keep up with your ASE certifications without having to visit a test center.

The myASE Renewal app will send you one question per certification area every month. You can view the questions whenever is most convenient for you, as long as you answer them within the allotted time provided. You can then find out whether or not your answer was correct and why. To learn more about the app and start your free trial, visit www.myaserenewal.com/

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BENEFITS OF BECOMING ASE-CERTIFIED

Automotive mechanics and technicians across the country hold ASE certification, and for good reason — becoming ASE certified has a long list of benefits. Among them:

  • Shows customers you know your craft. Cars today are complex machines. When customers come in and ask questions, they want clear, concise answers from an expert. An ASE certification is a subtle way to say “I’m an expert” without sounding arrogant.
  • Shows your employer you’re serious. An ASE certification shows employers you’re committed to what you do. Because this is an optional certification, working toward it shows you are interested in perfecting your craft and pursuing excellence in your field.
  • Broadens your knowledge. To pass the ASE test, you’ll have to know your stuff backward and forward. Studying will reinforce your trouble areas and make you extra confident in the areas you already know well.
  • Increases your earning potential. Salary and wage increases are based on both performance and education level. Keep your skills up and your promotion opportunities are likely to follow.
  • There’s demand for ASE-Certified mechanics. Since ASE is an independent organization, certification is a universal and impartial way to grade potential job candidates. An auto repair facility might only extend offers to certified mechanics, in which case, you have a leg up on other non-certified applicants.

If you are considering becoming an automotive technician, completing ASE certification requirements is a solid career decision as you advance your career post-graduation within the automotive industry.

READY TO START YOUR TRAINING?

From motorcycle and marine to automotive and diesel, UTI offers a wide variety of programs for those who aspire to pursue a career in the skilled trades. To learn more, visit our programs page and request information today.

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