ASE Certification Overview
The Purpose of ASE
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is an independent, non-profit, organization created in 1972 to primarily promote excellence in the automotive repair industry. ASE has since expanded to include certifications in heavy truck, bus, and collision repair along with service consultant and parts specialists certifications. Almost 300,000 automotive technicians and service professionals currently hold ASE certifications and ASE certified professionals work in every part of the automotive service industry. Note that ASE certifies automotive technicians and service professionals, not the actual repair facilities.
For the most part, ASE certifications are not required to work in the automotive service industry; however, it is in the best interest of an automotive technician to get certified as high as possible, as soon as possible. Professional technicians can differentiate themselves from other technicians and promote their commitment to the automotive service industry through ASE certifications.
YouTube Video: Why ASE?
WebLink: ASE Website
The ASE Certification Process
The ASE certification process is made up of two parts, the actual certification tests, and documenting minimum work experience.
The ASE tests can be taken by anybody, at any age, with any or no automotive education or experience. Most ASE tests expire in five years; however, the certification is not awarded until the minimum work experience is met.
ASE testing is available year-round and are delivered days, nights, and weekends at 450+ secure, proctored Prometric test centers.
Locate a Prometric Test Center: Weblink
In addition to passing an ASE certification test, minimum work experience is required. This requirement is covered, in detail, later in the lesson.
The ASE certification tests that primarily relate to the automotive service industry are listed in the table below. The table also includes the numbers of automotive professionals currently certified by each ASE test and their percentage of the automotive workforce.
This information is current through the Spring 2019 ASE test administration
Data is updated each year after Spring testing is completed
|A3||Manual Drive Train & Axles||90,086||12%|
|A4||Suspension & Steering||132,948||17%|
|A7||Heating & Air Conditioning||105,571||14%|
|Automotive Master Tech (A1-A8)||67,962||9%|
|A9||Light Vehicle Diesel Engine||17,583||2%|
|C1||Automobile Service Consultant||16,406||NA||2|
|F1||Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle||1,568||0.2%|
|G1||Auto Maintenance and Light Repair||22,112||3%||3|
|L1||Advanced Engine Performance Specialist||32,566||4%|
|L3||Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist||1,602||0.2%|
|X1||Exhaust Systems Certification||5,844||0.8%|
- Percentage of all USA automotive technicians (770,100) – US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)
- No percentage is given since this is not an automotive technician position
- Maintenance and Light Repair (MLR) is a very basic certification and is often used to certify students in secondary automotive programs.
Master Automobile Technician Certification:
The Master Automobile Technician Certification is earned after all eight (A1-A8) of the specific testing/certifications listed above are passed. To maintain the Master Level, each test must be recertified every five years. Upon certification, the certified applicant will also receive a special ASE Master Technician shoulder insignia, wallet I.D. card, and a wall certificate. Master Technicians are considered experts in automotive repair and service.
Advanced Engine Performance Specialist (L1) Certification
This difficult test is focused on the diagnosis of general power-train, computerized power-train controls (including OBD II), ignition systems, fuel and air induction systems, emission control systems, and I/M test failures. Technicians must retest every five years to retain their Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certification. Upon certification, the certified applicant will also receive a special ASE Advanced Level Specialist shoulder insignia, wallet I.D. card and a wall certificate. These technicians possess the knowledge and the skills required to diagnose sophisticated driveability and emissions-related problems on automobiles, SUVs, and light-duty trucks.
Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist (L3) Certification
This difficult test is focused on the diagnosis of both high and low voltage electrical/electronic problems, as well as other supporting system problems, on hybrid/electric vehicles. Technicians must retest every five years to retain their Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist Certification. Upon certification, the certified applicant will also receive a special ASE Advanced Level Specialist shoulder insignia, wallet I.D. card and a wall certificate. These Technicians possess knowledge and the skills required to diagnose sophisticated driveability problems on hybrid/electric automobiles.
Other Industry Certifications
The focus of this course is on the automotive service industry; therefore, this lesson only covers the Automobile & Light Truck Certification Program. ASE also offers the following transportation certification programs.
- Medium/Heavy Truck
- Collision Repair and Refinish
- Parts Specialist
- School Bus
- Transit Bus
- Truck Equipment
ASE Official Study Guide
While many ASE study guides are available for sale, one of the best is published by ASE and is available as a free PDF download. It contains detailed information (including practice test questions) about all automotive/light truck tests (A1-A9), the Service Consultant Test (C1), the Alternative Fuels Test (F1), and the X1 Exhaust test.
Official ASE Study Guides: Download Link
ASE recognizes hands-on experience maintaining, servicing, and/or repairing light-duty or heavy-duty motor vehicles towards the automotive service industry work experience as detailed in the table below.
|Minimum amount of experience||Required for these Tests|
|2 Years||A1-A9, B2-B5, E1-E3, F1, H1-H8, S1-S7, T1-T8, and X1|
|3 Years||L1, L2, and L3|
You can substitute high school, trade school, or community college education for part of the “hands-on” Repair Technician work experience requirement, as shown below. This credit can be combined with additional hands-on work experience if needed to meet the 1, 2, and 3-year Repair Technician requirements.
This table applies only to the Repair Technician requirements.
Only one row in the table can count towards formal education credit (you can’t combine rows).
|Formal Education / Training||Credit toward 1-YR requirement||Credit toward 2-YR requirement||Credit toward 3-YR requirement|
|Complete any ASE-Accredited Program – Auto, M/H Truck or Collision-Refinish, including MLR, AST, MAST and all other current or grandfathered ASE standards||6 months||1 year||1 year|
|Complete an ASE-Accredited OEM-Sponsored Co-op Program||1 year||2 years||2 years|
|Pass 3 or more different ASE Entry-Level Certification Program Tests||6 months||1 year||1 year|
|All other training: 2 months of full-time training (or 200 program hours) equals 1-month credit||Up to 6 months||Up to 1 year||Up to 1 year|
Due to the complexity of the credit by education information, for the most current and detailed information visit this page on the ASE website: Instructions for Completing the ASE Work Experience Form
ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Program
ASE does not certify auto repair facilities but does recognize shops if at least 75% of their technicians are ASE certified. Each area of service offered by the facility must be covered by at least one ASE certified technician. If the repair facility employs a full-time service consultant they must have a current ASE Service Consultant Certification.
Shops that qualify for the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Program will display the logo, as shown to the left, on the outside of the building.
ASE Blue Seal Facility Locator: Web Link
ASE Contact Information
National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
1503 Edwards Ferry Rd., NE, Suite 401
Leesburg, VA 20176
8 am to 5 pm Eastern Time, Monday – Friday, except holidays