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Mechanic certification is a standard means of qualification that demonstrates that a mechanic is qualified to work on a vehicle. In America, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the mechanic certification typically sought out by mechanics, required by employers and preferred by customers. The basic requirement for achieving mechanic certification is typically passing a test or series of tests administered by an independent agency. In the United States (US), the ASE certification test is administered by the American College Testing (ACT) board. This is the same testing body that administers college placement testing to high school students.
A mechanic or shop that displays a mechanic certification is not necessarily qualified to repair a vehicle. Mechanics in most areas do not have to demonstrate an ability to repair a vehicle in order to receive mechanic certification, as only a written test needs to be successfully passed in order to receive certification. In the US, a mechanic receives a Master Certification only after attaining two years of experience and then specializing in a specific automotive area, such as engine repair, suspension or air-conditioning. There are several areas of specialization in which a mechanic can attain master certification, and attaining this rank typically requires successful completion of a written test covering the specialty area.
In some areas, a mechanic must also posses a mechanic certification from the local government agency in order to legally perform repairs. Typically, a certification from an independent party, such as the ASE, must be obtained prior to becoming government-certified. The purpose for the government mechanic certification is to attest to the mechanic's independent certification. Commonly, there is a fee required to receive this second certification. For a repair shop that employs several mechanics, an independent certification may be required for each mechanic on the premises and the certification must often be prominently displayed.
The purpose for mechanic certification is often to protect the public from unqualified persons doing harm to a vehicle. Most insurance-covered and warranty-related repairs are only authorized to be performed by certified mechanics at certified repair facilities. This is done in an effort to prevent unsafe or shoddy repairs from being performed, as this may cause further damage. While even the most basic certification requires study and discipline to pass and receive, the level of certification displayed on a shop wall is often an indicator of the amount of time and attention the title holder has put into his or her career choice.
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