ASE is the premier name in auto repair. It is an abbreviated version of the The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, which has been issuing numerous certifications since its inception in 1972. It was first established as an organization that recognizes auto mechanics who display an above-average knowledge level. Now the ASE has replaced the NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) as the organization entrusted with approving automotive training programs for accreditation.

Programs that receive accreditation are considered to be the elite auto mechanic education programs in the United States. The NATEF was created as a way of enhancing auto mechanic education and the same standards are now upheld by the ASE Education Foundation, which was actually formed with the merger of the NATEF and AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems).

When an automotive technology program is certified by the ASE Education Foundation, it has proven to have surpassed standards that are considered to be above the industry norm. The status of an auto mechanic education program is measured against whether it is capable of qualifying students for ASE certification upon completion of the curriculum.


The ASE Education Foundation came into existence on January 1, 2018. It replaced the NATEF and its certified programs are now referred to as ASE-certified programs. The purpose of the ASE Education Foundation is to award accreditation for automotive service technology training programs at post-secondary institutions as well as high schools. It also provides support for automotive technology instructors while establishing relationships between auto mechanic students and employers in the auto service industry.

The ASE Education Foundation has introduced a set of standards for automotive technology programs and has accredited programs in all 50 states. These programs offer auto mechanic education training at the post-secondary ad high school level. The skills that are taught in an ASE-accredited program are reflective of the skills auto mechanics should have to pass ASE certification exams.

The Accreditation Process

To become accredited, an auto mechanic education program must meet all the standards and requirements set forth by the ASE. The accreditation standards for each certification are rather extensive. And because a school may be accredited in one area, it does not mean accreditation applies to all of its programs. For example, an automotive technology program at one school may be accredited while its auto collision program may not be accredited. There are standards that need to be passed, including ones in the following areas:

  • Student Services
  • Instruction
  • Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Supervision
  • Access
  • Learning Resources
  • Finances
  • Instructional Staff

There are four more steps that follow in the accreditation process with the next one being a self-evaluation. The training program is expected to self-evaluate and draw comparisons to the national standards. This self-evaluation should also lead to any necessary changes that need to be made.

Once a self-evaluation is completed and sent to the ASE, a decision will follow on whether the program qualifies for an official evaluation. This is considered the third step as the ASE will review all the proper documentation. When a program qualifies for a review, the fourth step follows with an on-site evaluation conducted by an ASE representative, who has achieved Master Technician status. That representative visits the facility to examine its resources.

This is a very detailed step which includes an on-site evaluation, examination of class syllabi, sequence of instruction, the program training materials, in addition to other areas. A program must also produce a list that offers the names of six recent graduates and where they are locally employed.

When it is decided that a program has completed each of these five steps, an ASE certification will be issued for a period of five years. A compliance review is required to be submitted to the ASE two and a half years into that accreditation. It is not simply a one and done process as the ASE monitors each program that has received accreditation.


The benefits of ASE accreditation are experienced in numerous ways. Benefits are not limited to just an institution that offers auto mechanic training. Benefits also extend to students, auto repair shops and the entire automotive community. Here are some ways that ASE accreditation can benefit that community:

  • Improves reputation of program
  • Enhances potential for funding
  • Strengthens involvement with corporations
  • Boosts skill level of technicians
  • Provides comprehensive training

Mechanics can earn individual certifications from the ASE, although those certifications are different as they are awarded individually. Attending a program that is ASE accredited will better prepare auto mechanics to become ASE certified. This will introduce them to the necessary skills and knowledge that needs to be attained for ASE certification. It will also reduce the amount of work experience required before being approved to take an ASE certification exam.

Much of the auto repair industry is dictated by individual abilities. Many of those abilities are reflected in ASE certifications. There are auto repair shops that will only hire auto mechanics who are ASE certified. For auto mechanics right out of a post-secondary school, the path to employment becomes much easier when they can show a degree, diploma or certificate from an ASE-accredited program. State certifications are not required by auto mechanics. This places more of an emphasis on industry certifications in the auto repair field. This is one more reason the ASE has become a widely recognized and highly-respected name in the auto repair industry.


The ASE has different levels of certification, the first of which can be obtained through education. Here is a look at the hierarchy of accreditation as determined by the ASE:

  • ASE Entry Level Certification – No required work experience and it lasts two years
  • Maintenance and Light Repair – One year of work experience and it lasts five years
  • Other ASE certifications – Two years of work experience and it lasts five years

Each level in this hierarchy requires a different amount of tasks, instructional qualifications and instructional hours. The goal of the hierarchical format is to build on each set of previous skills and is also reflective of what auto repair shop owners are currently looking for in auto mechanics. This will allow graduates of an accredited program to walk right into an entry-level position and begin to excel. The ASE Education Foundation has also made it simpler for students to gain certification at the entry level. The entry level certification allows new graduates to seek out employment with immediate accreditation.

The longtime AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems) Program has also been dissolved when it merged with the NATEF. The AYES is now referred to as the ASE Student Development Program. This new program teaches the same principles, but has a more unified distinction in terms of its name.


Instructor with Students

Entering an auto mechanic training program is a way to begin a career as an auto mechanic. However, it is important to note that not every auto mechanic education program is created equally. There are programs that go into greater depth in certain aspects of automotive repair. These programs often distinguish themselves as the ones who adequately prepare students for success in auto repair. There are obvious differences in individual performance, although students who excel in an ASE Education Foundation program should be expected to have the following abilities:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Exemplary mechanical aptitude
  • Ability to diagnose and reason
  • Follow directions with precision
  • Excellent manual dexterity

There are continual accreditation updates implemented into ASE Education Foundation programs. For example, innovative technology has now forced auto mechanics to be computer literate. Because most vehicles integrate computer systems into their programming, it has become essential for auto mechanics to understand these specifics. Technical training has increased to a highly advanced level in programs that are affiliated with ASE accreditation. There is also an emphasis on computer literacy in these programs, as it is a required skill for the modern-day auto mechanic.

The NATEF affiliation with the ASE has been previously mentioned. However, there is another name to know. The NATEF recently combined with the AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems) to form the ASE Education Foundation. The mission of the NATEF will remain the same and the standards will still remain as high, although this is a way of consolidating both programs into one non-profit organization. AYES traditionally dealt with high school education programs in auto repair while the NATEF dealt with post-secondary education programs.

ASE Instructors

Becoming an instructor at an ASE program goes beyond just filling out an application and having a job interview. The ASE has actually developed a guide to help instructors acclimate to that role. The guide has a number of video lessons and helpful hints that include the following:

  • How to develop quality lessons and deliver quality content
  • Managing labs with success
  • Assessment of student progress and mastery
  • Remain connected and current with the auto industry

Many of the standards required for ASE certification are dependent upon program instructors, which is why the hiring of new instructors is a discerning process. The capability of employing quality instructors is an ongoing priority. For auto mechanics looking to transition into this role, it is important to be ASE certified. Instructors are counted on to convey the latest automotive industry knowledge as there are more than 50,000 students working with the ASE Education Foundation.