For technicians, being certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a visible sign--to customers, peers and superiors--that they excel in their profession.
It's no different for the technicians who install and repair truck equipment--they just have a different test to take. ASE's E1: Truck Equipment Installation and Repair Specialist certification is designed to identify and recognize truck equipment technicians who can "demonstrate knowledge of the skills necessary to install, diagnose, service and repair truck equipment and related support systems on all classes of trucks and trailers."
The test was first administered in May 1999, and was developed at the behest of the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Board of Trustees, who wanted to improve the professionalism and recognition of commercial work truck technicians, says NTEA technical services director Bob Raybuck.
"ASE is a well-known and well-valued certification group for mechanics, so the board decided to partner with ASE to develop three certification tests: one around body and equipment installation, which is E1; E2, which is around truck equipment, electronics and electrical requirements, and E3, which is pneumatics and hydraulics in a commercial work truck application," he says. "It was to help increase the value of the industry to the end customer, and let the end customers understand they're dealing with professionals here, not ‘shade tree' mechanics."
Bob Clark, ASE director of Light/Heavy Vehicle Special Testing Programs, says development and update of test questions is a complicated and exacting process that begins with a request from industry (in this case, NTEA) and financial support for the test. The next step is a series of ‘workshops' comprised of ASE staff and subject-matter experts (SMEs) supplied by the industry specific to the test.
"ASE's role is to act as a facilitator in the development process, and to guide the SMEs through the development process that begins with a detailed analysis of the job category in question," Clark says. "The results of this job analysis are the Content Area (main service categories) for the test, and the Task List (job-skills list) that further defines each content category."
NTEA played the key role in establishing the E1 test, and the organization has helped maintain the testing ever since. Raybuck says the organization's goal now is to help ASE devise questions for the future that are relevant and easily understood by truck equipment technicians. He says one of the best ways to do that is by gathering input for test questions from shop managers and foremen--the ones who have to deal with maintenance issues first-hand.
Because of this, NTEA's Raybuck says the ASE certification provides a measure of confidence for the end customer.
"You know that the technicians understand what they are doing: they are going to do a safe, proper installation of bodies and equipment and properly take care of it," he says. "You'll be confident (about) the vehicle you're getting from these organizations that have the ASE-certified mechanics; know that they understand what the proper techniques and have actually gone through the certification process to show that knowledge, so you can be more confident in having a safe vehicle built by a technician with a greater knowledge base.
"If you don't do the first part properly, it's hard to repair it properly," he says.
While not every company has ASE-certified technicians, Raybuck says NTEA's goal is to have all its distributor members or outfitting members who have people installing bodies and equipment on vehicles to have their technicians ASE certified.
ASE certification is also important to repair shops, where technicians with the designation are valuable, Raybuck says. So much so that in some shops, managers tell their new technicians that becoming certified is part of their employment.
SAMPLE TASK LIST
Delmar is currently the only provider of Transit Bus ASE test preparation products, and is now offering the materials in both online and print formats.