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ASE Certification - How to Get ASE Certified

ASE Certification

ASE is the well-known acronym for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE operates independently as a professional organization with its ultimate mission to improve the service and repair of motor vehicles. This is accomplished by ensuring that automotive repair specialists are appropriately trained before, and throughout their careers.  

ASE meets its objectives by offering numerous automotive specialty certifications. The reality is, when an automotive professional holds an ASE certification, the designation speaks to an automotive mechanic with exception skills and training. This translates to – 

  • Happy, satisfied car and truck owners, and
  • A great career with tremendous earning potential

The reality is, most car and truck owners depend upon an automotive mechanic to keep their motor vehicle running smoothly through routine maintenance and troubleshooting unexpected repairs. As a car or truck is a significant investment, the vehicle owner demands that the car be repaired by a trusted and experienced professional.

Years ago, many vehicle owners understood what to look for under the hood if their car malfunctioned. The technology over the past three decades has changed this scenario and created a population of an automotive professional- dependent generation.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) 

For nearly fifty years, the automotive industry has benefited greatly from the hard work of the members and volunteers who participate in supporting the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

As a nonprofit organization, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has successfully set the professional bar for members of the automotive repair industry. ASE standards are established (and proven) benchmarks for automotive professionals worldwide. 

ASE meets the industry’s objectives by managing a certification process that assesses the knowledge and capabilities of automotive mechanics against a set of standards delineated by a panel of national experts. Members of this panel include auto manufacturers, educators, technicians, and other industry-related professionals. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers a variety of subspecialty automotive certifications, which are discussed in detail further on. 

An ASE certification reveals to future employers that the certification holder's abilities and skills have met the stringent standards set forth by ASE experts. Both employers and customers understand that an ASE certification is a symbol of distinction and excellence. 

An ASE certified automotive professional is deemed trustworthy and skillful. Hundreds of thousands of automotive professionals hold an ASE certification in one of the several certifications offered. Are you ready?

What is ASE Certification?

ASE Certification patch

The ASE certifies automotive service professionals who complete their certification testing standards successfully. 

An ASE certification is awarded exclusively to automotive professionals based strictly on merit and ability. An ASE certification is never awarded to a specific body shop or auto repair company. Therefore, an automotive repair company can legitimately advertise that they employ ASE certified mechanics, but the business is prohibited from claiming that it is ASE certified.

This is important because an ASE certification is a recognized credential that speaks to automotive repair excellence. As a result, an ad or promotional material that notes an ASE certification will have a positive influence when attempting to attract new customers. 

As such, automotive professionals who earn an ASE credential are generally preferred to auto mechanics who work without certification. As such, automotive professionals with ASE certification have the ability to demand higher wages than their non-certified counterparts.  Additionally, employers in the process of hiring automotive mechanics have the option to review the ASE’s database of certified professionals to locate automotive services professionals locally to fill the positions.

A Summary of the Benefits of ASE Certification 

An ASE automotive professional represents the gold standard for automotive professionals.  

ASE certification benefits the following individuals – 

  • The Automotive Technician – it provides written proof of the mechanic’s exceptional skills. Certified technicians are preferred candidates who have the ability to demand a higher wage. 
  • The Employer – the certification offers employers assurance of their technician’s expertise.
  • The Consumer – consumers are protected as certified experts are repairing their vehicles. 

Many ASE certified automotive professionals have successfully applied the certification’s education credits-earned towards an associates and bachelor’s degree program. The school/university offering the post-secondary degree has full discretion as to acceptance of transfer credits. 

ASE Certification Types 

Each ASE certification is awarded to automotive professionals who –

  • Successfully complete the ASE examination, and
  • Have a minimum of two years of professional experience

However, any individual can register and take the ASE certification exam before the professional experience is fully attained. Should this happen, the automotive professional will be required to wait until they can submit documentation that demonstrates the minimum required experience. 

ASE applicants should note that ‘approved experience’ in one area does not automatically translate to experience across all ASE testing areas.  Those who pass exams A1 through A8 are awarded the ultimate credential of a Master Automobile Technician. This is discussed in detail below. 

It is noted that ASE certification is available in areas other than automobiles.  These include six testing series  –

ASE Certification Testing Areas

 ASE Test Series  ASE Tests
Automobile  A1 -  A9 
 Collision Repair  B2 - B5
 Medium-Heavy Trucks  T2 - T8
 School Bus  S1 - S6
 Transit Bus  H2, H2, plus H3 - H8
 Truck Equipment  E1 - E3

Under the broad categories noted above, there are more than forty certification test segments to evaluate the performance of ASE applicants against the standards set for the many facets of an automotive professional's skill base.

ASE Certification Specifics

An ASE certification is awarded to those automotive professionals who successfully complete an ASE exam. However, unlike many other certifications that only require continuing education to maintain active certification, the ASE certification is issued in five-year increments. This means that an automotive professional who is awarded the designation must be re-tested every five years to ensure ASE certified automotive mechanics operate with the latest technologies and techniques. 

ASE certifications examinations are designed to be challenging. About one-third of ASE test-takers fail on their first attempt. Preparation is key to putting forth your best effort. ASE Certification testing is demanding and requires a commitment and dedication to successfully pass the ASE exams.  

Those automotive professionals who successfully complete the ASE tests demonstrate the skills and talent to repair motor vehicles professionally. As a reminder, the ASE certifies automotive personnel, not the companies who employ them. 

Automotive Certification Series Tests 

 Test #  ASE Series  Number of Questions
A1  Engine Repair   50 Questions
A2 Transmission & Transaxle  50 Questions
A3 Drivetrain & Axles   40 Questions
A4 Steering & Suspension  40 Questions
A5 Braking Systems  45 Questions
A6 Electronic & Electrical  50 Questions
A7 AC & Heating   50 Questions
A8 Engine Performance  50 Questions
A9* Light Weight Diesel Engines 50 Questions

*NOT required for Master Status

An ASE certificate can be awarded in eight automotive-related capacities. An automotive professional can decide to take just one or all of the ASE automotive certifications. 

The ASE Master Technician Certification

An ASE Master Technician earns the elite Master Technician designation by successfully completing each of the automotive categories shown above as A1 through A8. Remember, each certification has its own definition of ‘required experience.’   

While ASE certification test A9 (Light-Diesel Engines) falls within the series of automotive certifications, it is not required to earn the ASE Master Technician Credential. It is noted that many ASE Master Certificate holders proactively choose to include this ASE certificate to round out their Master Technician certification. 

A Step by Step Guide on How to Get ASE certified

This step-by-step summary summarizes the path to obtaining one’s ASE certification -

Gaining the Required Professional Experience

  1. Work as an apprentice or as an automotive assistant to learn the automotive repair industry and to meet ASE certification requirements. 
  2. Decide Upon an Automotive Specialty, or many
  3. Select the ASE Certification test(s) you wish to take in the future 

Obtaining ASE Certification

  1. Select the ASE Test you are ready to take and Register to take the test on the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence’s website. There is a one-time $36 fee for registration and a set fee for each test taken. Test fees are non-refundable.
  2. Prepare for the test with ASE study materials and ASE practice tests. Each test offers a specific time requirement for completion. 
  3. Arrive at the test center on time and prepared to ace the ASE examination. ASE certification test-takers should bring:
    • A Valid Government-Issued Identification
    • Noncitizens must bring a passport
  4. The ASE test-taker will receive their test results by email shortly after the test has been completed.  

Getting the Most from Your ASE Certification

  1. Display the ASE credential noticeably to ensure customers are aware of the designation earned.
  2. Consider Becoming an ASE Master Mechanic
  3. Keep ASE certification current with all certification requirements. This includes the requirement that the ASE certificate holder re-take a certification test every five years. These regulations ensure automotive professionals remain current with cutting-edge automotive repair technologies. 

The Takeaway

The esteemed ASE certification speaks to one’s aptitudes, talents, and skills that have met (or surpassed) established ASE certification testing requirements. 

Most industry experts agree that there are benefits from earning an ASE certification and that the effort required completing an ASE exam is well worth it, in terms of one’s career objectives and bank account.