It is common for automotive repair companies to assign skill levels to their employed professionals so that each repair can be appropriately matched to a qualified professional. Some use an alphabetical ranking system whereby an upper-level is referred to as an “A tech” and a lower-level as a “C tech.” Diagnosis and driveability concerns tend to be upper-level jobs while maintenance and component replacement are lower-level jobs. A professional’s skill level is usually determined by years of experience and certifications:
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a non-profit organization that tests and certifies automotive professionals so that the shop owners and service customers can better gauge a professional’s level of expertise before contracting the professional’s services. In addition to passing an ASE certification test, automotive professionals must have two years of on-the-job-training or one year of on-the-job-training and a two-year degree in automotive repair to qualify for certification. ASE Master professional status is earned when an individual achieves certification in all required testing areas for that series. Certification credentials are only valid for five years. Each certification in the series must be kept current in order to maintain ASE Master Professional status. While it is not required by law for a mechanic to be certified, some companies only hire or promote employees who have passed ASE tests.
A vehicle’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) often provides and requires additional training as part of the dealership franchise agreement. In doing so, professionals become specialized and certified for that particular vehicle make. Some vocational schools or colleges offer manufacturer training programs with certain vehicle brands including BMW, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Mopar, Porsche, Toyota and Volvo which can provide a professional with OEM training before entering the dealership environment. These types of programs may be paid for by a student with no obligation, or by the manufacturer with a contract that requires a professional to work for the OEM for a designated amount of time upon graduating. An OEM usually has multiple professional skill levels that can be achieved, but the Master status is typically one of them.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires any person who repairs or services a motor vehicle air conditioning system for payment or bartering to be properly trained and certified under section 609 of the Clear Air Act. To be certified, professionals must be trained by an EPA-approved program and pass a test demonstrating their knowledge in these areas. This certification does not expire.