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Lead Dogs Have a Better View

Through training and certification, you’ll not only hone your skills and increase your productivity, you’ll also elevate your professionalism — separating you from the rest of the pack.

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We’ve all heard the line from comedian Rodney Dangerfield, "I just don’t get no respect." And, although it’s meant to be a joke, you may sometimes feel this way as a collision repair technician. Whether it’s heightened consumer-advocacy campaigns or the technology used on today’s cars that makes it tougher to repair them, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated.

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What can you do to get some respect? Make sure you’ve got what it takes professionally so you stand out from the average Joe.

A good approach is to take professional certification and training seriously. Whether you like it or not, no one will respect what you do unless you first take some serious steps toward professional career development. To get started down that path, you need to make a commitment to ASE certification and ongoing training; both play pivotal roles in the personal and professional rewards you’ll receive down the road.

Certification: What’s the Big Deal?
Everybody knows that MD following an individual’s name means medical doctor, and most people also know that CPA signifies certified public accountant. Associations and professions use these types of certification to recognize qualified and competent individuals. Why? Because the certification process is one of the single most important steps in career development.

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Need some reasons why you, as a collision repair/refinishing professional, should pursue training and certification? Here are the top 10 reasons to consider becoming ASE certified:

1. Certification grants you professional credentials. Since it recognizes your individual accomplishments, ASE certification serves as an impartial, third-party endorsement of your knowledge and experience on a national, even international, basis

2. Certification demonstrates your commitment to your profession. Receiving ASE certification shows your peers, supervisors and the general public your commitment to your chosen career and your ability to perform to set standards.

3. Certification enhances the profession’s image. ASE’s certification program helps to grow, promote and develop certified professionals who can stand "out in front" as examples of excellence in the collision repair industry.

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4. Certification reflects achievement. ASE certification is a reflection of personal achievement because you meet standards and requirements established by the entire collision repair industry.

5. Certification builds self-esteem. ASE certification is a step toward defining yourself beyond a job description or academic degree while gaining a sense of personal satisfaction.

6. Certification can improve career opportunities and advancement. ASE certification can give you the "edge" when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. ASE certification clearly identifies you as an employee who’s demonstrated competency in specific technical specialty areas based on accepted industry standards.

7. Certification may provide for greater earnings potential. Many professionals who’ve become ASE certified experience salary and wage increases based on their certification status. ASE-certified professionals are in high demand throughout North America.

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8. Certification improves skills and knowledge. Typically, achieving ASE certification requires training, study and "keeping up" with changing technology. ASE certification showcases your individual competence by confirming proficiency and knowledge.

9. Certification prepares you for greater on-the-job responsibilities. Since ASE certification is a voluntary professional commitment to the industry, it’s a clear indicator of your willingness to invest in your own professional development. Certified professionals are aware of the constantly changing technology and environment around their profession, and they possess the desire to anticipate and respond to change.

10. Certification offers greater recognition from peers. As an ASE-certified professional, you can expect increased recognition from your peers for taking that extra step in your professional development.

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Experience Required
ASE requires that you have two or more years of full-time, hands-on working experience in collision repair/refinishing to earn full certification. (The Damage Analysis and Estimating exam has a separate two-year experience requirement specific to that type of work.)

ASE also accepts some formal training as a substitute for experience. You may receive credit for up to one year of the two-year work-experience requirement by substituting relevant formal training in one or a combination of the following:

• High School Training — Three full years of training, either in collision repair, refinishing or damage estimating may be substituted for one year of work experience.

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• Post-High School Training — Two full years of post-high school training in a public or private trade school, technical institute, community or four-year college, or in an apprenticeship program may be counted as one year of work experience.

• Short Courses — For shorter periods of post-high school training, you may substitute two months of training for one month of work experience.

You may receive full credit for the two-year work-experience requirement with the following:

• Completion of Apprenticeship — Satisfactory completion of either a three- or four-year apprenticeship program. To have your training considered as a substitute for work experience, send an official transcript of courses, a statement of training or a certificate showing satisfactory completion of the apprenticeship, together with your registration form and fee payment. Documents should show length of training (hours or weeks). The institute reserves the right to evaluate all requests for substitution of training for experience and to grant such credit as may be appropriate. Work experience other than that described above also may be credited toward fulfillment of the two-year experience where, in the institute’s judgment, the nature of the experience so warrants.

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How Do I Sign Up?
ASE administers its tests at nearly 800 conveniently located test sites across the country. The fee for the collision-series tests is $20 each, plus a $25 registration fee that applies whether you’re taking one or more tests.

The Spring 1999 test session is scheduled for May 4, 6 and 11, and the registration deadline is March 26. For more information and a registration booklet, call the ASE toll-free information line at (877) ASE-TECH or drop by the ASE Web site at (www.asecert.org).

Don’t settle for average. Not only will training and certification help to pull you ahead of the pack, but they’ll also help to open doors of opportunity for you. Make yourself the lead dog, and you’ll be positioning yourself for career advancement — and for the respect that you, and this industry, deserve.

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Writer Dave Cappert, of ASE Industry Relations, can be reached by phone at (703) 713-3979 or by e-mail at ([email protected]).

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