Becoming a master mechanic is a prestigious distinction that comes with a host of benefits. The title signifies that someone is an elite member of the automotive repair industry. That translates into increased pay rates, and higher-level job opportunities. A master mechanic is considered to be among the most elite mechanics in the industry, although it comes with education, practice, experience and numerous levels of certification. Here is a closer look on the steps to take to become a master auto mechanic.
Auto Mechanic Education
The pathway to becoming a master mechanic typically starts at the post-secondary level. Most master mechanics get their start by earning an Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology. This kind of education is available through numerous community and junior colleges, as well as select technical colleges throughout the country. Some auto mechanics pursue an educational route that extends through a career training program or adult learning center. This option usually takes up half the time that it takes to earn an Associate’s Degree, but is still of value.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 72 percent of master mechanics have earned some kind of post-secondary degree or certificate. There is also an additional 16 percent who have some college experience while only 8 percent have achieved a high school diploma as their highest form of education.
An auto mechanic education serves as the foundation for mechanics, who add to this knowledge as they work their way up to master status. There are job essentials that every master mechanic must start with and this will enable them to start to gain the experience needed to start earning all the certifications that are required for master mechanic status.
An auto mechanic’s education does not cease after the completion of a program at a post-secondary school. The education is meant to continue through working on actual vehicles as an auto mechanic. Picking up pointers from veteran mechanics will enable less experienced mechanics to develop the skills and knowledge needed to become a master mechanic. Here is a closer look at some of the common skills of a master mechanic.
This applies to a detailed knowledge of the design of vehicle systems and use of tools and machines in the repair process.
Technology and engineering knowledge
This includes the application of principles and procedures in the overall repair and maintenance process.
Since many newer vehicles are operated by computer systems, mechanics are able to diagnose and repair issues with the use of diagnostic tools and instruments.
Gain work experience in the automotive field
Before a mechanic can start earning any certifications that lead to master status, there is a need to gain work experience. This is required to begin taking any of the 49 certifications offered by the ASE (The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence). Those who have completed an Associate Degree or Career Training Program till have to provide a minimum of one year of work experience in order to be eligible to take any of the ASE certifications. Those who cannot show proof of any formal education in automotive repair typically require a minimum of two years of work experience before they can sit for a certification exam. Work experience can be attained at any of the following areas:
Auto repair shops
Auto Parts and Tire Stores
Once the ample amount of work experience has been attained, it should be documented and then sent to the ASE. Once that work experience has been approved, mechanics will be allowed to begin taking certification exams. The nature of the certification tests is designed to draw on actual work experience which cannot be underestimated.
Start Earning Certifications
One an auto mechanic gains the necessary work experience, then comes the time to begin taking individual certification tests. Each of the certification tests is considered to be very difficult and are made up by a group of experienced automotive professionals. The test questions are continually modified at test workshops to keep pace with the ever-changing logistics involved in automotive repair. Here is a look at the test series provided by the ASE.
Test centers are set up throughout the country and in order to qualify for one of those tests, mechanics must show proof of work experience. Once mechanics begin earning certifications, they become closer to earning master status.
Achieve Master-Level by Acquiring Multiple Certifications
The ASE has become the leading name in credentialing auto mechanics. It has created a testing system which is divided up into a series of specializations. The most common is Automobile and light truck certification. This category includes eight individual certifications and acquiring each one will enable a mechanic to achieve master status. However, that master status is just for the automobile and light trucks. Here is a look at each separate test, which includes 40-50 questions, that must be passed in order to achieve master automobile mechanic status:
A1 Engine Repair
A2 Automatic Tranmission/Transaxle
A3 Manual Drive Train & Axles
A4 Suspension & Steering
A6 Electrical/Electronic Systems
A7 Heating & Air Conditioning
A8 Engine Performances
There is also the option of earning master mechanic status in other areas. Mechanics looking to earn master-level status must earn certifications in a series of individual tests under a certain category. Once each certification under that category are earned, master status is granted. Here is a look at all of the areas in which mechanics can earn master status from the ASE.
Once you have achieved Master status, you will be entered into the ASE’s system. An online database allows employers to verify whether or not a mechanic has achieved the distinction of master mechanic. In order to run a check, employers must fill out an online request form, which will allow them to verify master status of an individual mechanic.
A master mechanic should also not be confused with a specialty mechanic. The difference between the two is that a master mechanic has accumulated certifications in all of the tests in a series, while a specialty mechanic has accumulated multiple certifications in a series but not all of them.
Manufacturer specific certifications are not the same as being a master mechanic. However, the master mechanic status coupled with a manufacturer specific certification will greatly enhance a mechanic’s status in the automotive repair community. Click here for more information on Master Status as provided by the ASE.
Keep Certifications Current
Earning master status does not mean it will last for a lifetime. The specifics of automotive repair are continually changing, which makes it necessary for all specializations to remain current. In order for a master mechanic to maintain that title, he/she must become recertified every five years. This is accomplished by taking a recertification exam issued by the ASE. However, recertification exams are not as lengthy as the initial exams and include about half as many test questions.
This does not mean that mechanics can take one comprehensive exam to maintain master status. They will need to become recertified in each individual exam within their specialty area. For example, master automotive mechanics will need to pass recertification tests in each of the eight individual tests (A1 through A8) that enabled them to earn master status. Staying current is important for master mechanics and when one lapses, it is important to address the need for recertification.
Test times are available every month and there are open periods of registration during throughout each season of the year. Test fees are required and there are an additional ten questions that are included purely for research purposes. There are 49 certification tests in 12 specialty areas. Most of the recertification tests include 25 questions, although there are a few with a higher number of questions. Typical test times are 30 minutes while a few tests are a bit longer in duration.
Study options are available through ASE as it offers study guides and practice tests. Status of your test can be tracked online and when a passing score is earned, a new certification will be issued via postal mail.
Maintaining the certifications that offer master status also means that mechanics will be able to charge higher pay rates. That could come in the form of salaries paid by employers or the amount charged to customers for work provided on their vehicles. Master status means that a mechanic is among the best in the field, although it also means staying on top of each and every certification.