Whether you've obtained them by successfully completing training programs or by demonstrating your knowledge in difficult tests, your certificates represent what you have done to stay up to date in the rapidly changing field of automotive service, and they may help you win or lose customers. Use the following tips to ensure the proper upkeep and display of your hard-earned certificates.
Certifications Matter to Customers
You may be surprised to learn that prospective customers take note of your achievements. Customers at dealerships are most impressed by manufacturers' certificates of training, according to Sam Pines, fixed operations director for the Hoffman Auto Group in Connecticut. "It could be a Master-Guild certificate from Audi or a Gold-Level certificate from Honda," he says. "At a dealership, this is what people look for."
Moreover, prospective customers also look for an industry seal of approval. "We have anecdotal evidence that customers know they should look for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence [ASE] certification," says Trish Serratore, group vice president for industrial relations for ASE. "They look for the ASE symbol and recognize it."
Display Your Training and Achievements
To reap the biggest gains from your certifications, whether they're from a manufacturer or the ASE, display the evidence of your accomplishments. "Don't forget to have the patches added to your uniform, display the certificates and add the ASE symbol to your business cards," Serratore adds, suggesting that in many cases it may be necessary to urge your employer to take these steps.
Maintain Your Certifications
Considering the rapid changes in automotive technology, it should be obvious that once you have achieved certification, there will be more to learn before the next test rolls around. For ASE certification, that testing comes every five years. Manufacturers' programs may be annual events. It is important to refresh your skills often to ensure your certifications are up to date.
"There's a wealth of training available, but it is up to the technician and the employer to take advantage of it," Serratore says. While you may still enjoy the added pay, which Serratore notes is often the biggest advantage of being certified, the failure to stay current will steadily erode your effectiveness. It will also make it harder to pass the next round of tests. For this reason, technicians should look upon certification as an ongoing process. Passing the test doesn't mark the culmination of your efforts; it should mark the beginning.
And for those of you whose demanding schedules make it impossible to travel to on-site tests, ASE also offers Web-based certification.