Overview of ASE Certification
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is one of the leading organizations that certify automotive professionals, with the aim of upholding excellence in the craft. Automotive professionals or technicians, or 'service technicians,' perform routine inspection and maintenance of cars and light trucks. Although ASE certification is not required by law, about 300,000 professionals hold the certification to assure their customers and employers of their expertise. There are more than 40 ASE certification exams, all of which are computer-based and taken onsite.
Applicants can choose to take one or more certification tests. Before they are eligible to take the tests, they must comply with work experience requirements that are specific to the certification type. Online training options are limited, but students can access materials on the ASE website, take online courses elsewhere or enroll in an online diploma program. After passing the certification test(s), applicants receive their certificates with the Blue Seal of Excellence, which are valid for five years.
ASE Certification Requirements
ASE holds strict standards for certification and explicitly states that the exams are challenging. Due to the nature of the requirements, only the self-study step can be done online. Through the provided study materials, test-takers can be guided properly.
Information and Requirements
Applicants have to comply with these requirements to receive their ASE certification: about two years' on-the-job training (formal training or a degree may replace some of this requirement) and successful completion of the exam(s). The particulars depend on the exam(s) to be taken. Work experience is expected to be the primary source of knowledge for test-takers; however, ASE provides many resources to help them prepare for the tests, such as comprehensive study guides, demonstration videos, and practice tests. Preparatory courses are also offered by Cengage, but these courses are not free.
Test-takers must pay ASE a registration fee of $36. The certifications tests cost $45 each, while the Advanced Level Certification tests are $90 each. For online training, a desktop or laptop computer and high-speed Internet connection suffice, but a printer can also come in handy for printing out the study guides.
The certification test(s) must be retaken every five years. The automotive industry is evolving by the day; recertification is one way to ensure that automotive professionals are up to date with their expertise and knowledge. Recertification tests cost the same but the total cost can be capped at $135 if the test-taker opts to take multiple exams.
Online ASE Test Preparation Information
The ASE Certification tests are divided into 16 series, each being a collection of tests that tackle specific skills and knowledge that fall under the series title. For instance, the A series focuses on cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks and has tests on topics like engine repair, suspension and steering, and brakes. Each certification test is around 40-55 questions long, while recertification tests are only half as long.
In its website, ASE offers four types of materials that can aid test-takers in preparing. Study guides provide information on the individual tests, as well as sample questions and test-taking tips. Webinars and simulations give test-takers an idea of what to expect in the venue. Additionally, to give them an accurate idea of how tests are taken, an interactive presentation is available. Lastly, test-takers can avail of the practice tests, which can be bought at $14.95 per voucher. They can buy three or more vouchers and the prices will be discounted.
Cengage also offers training courses that help users prepare for certain test series. The courses are self-paced but can be finished in seven hours. For $30, users receive the 'three-tiered preparation methodology' training, a strategy that uses sample tests of increasing difficulty. Progress reports, question maps, and links to the ASE task list are included in the package, which can be accessed for a year.
Due to the hands-on nature of automotive work, few trade schools or colleges offer online ASE training for aspiring automotive professionals. These training programs may span four months to a year and are delivered through animated videos, text guides, and interactive learning software. Some programs end in the attainment of a career diploma and even include the option to undergo hands-on training that qualifies as work experience. Programs are available for less than $1000.
Career Outlook After ASE Certification
Automotive professionals are able to work even without ASE certification, but being ASE-certified increases their chance of being employed or promoted.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2019 median salary of automotive service technicians and mechanics as $42,090. From 2018-28, the career is projected to manifest little to no growth with an employment growth outlook of -1%.
ASE certification tests are taken onsite but preparing for them can be done online. Through the test preparation materials provided by ASE, as well as training courses from third-party providers, test-takers can effectively study for the tests.