The benefits of seeking and obtaining Parts Specialist Certification from the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) are both personal and professional.
“What they’re seeking is a credential for recognition by their peers that they know the vehicle systems, that they know how to do their job,” says Pat Lampel, manager of marketing services for the ASE, and one of those who spearheaded the launch of ASE’s Parts Specialist Certification program in Canada.
To take the exam, ASE requires that you have two or more years of full-time, hands-on work experience, and a recertification test must be passed every five years, but the certification is concrete evidence of the knowledge and experience gained on the job and in training. Currently, some 1,300 Canadian counterpeople are ASE Certified Parts S-ecialists, and the number grows with every round of testing. In the U.S., there are more than 30,000 ASE Certified Parts Specialists. So obviously, the trade in Canada has a ways to go to be on a par with our counterparts south of the border, but the two groups do have some qualities in common.
“The thing that we know about them is that they tend to be the ones who invest in themselves,” says Lampel. “They’re taking advantage of the training their company makes accessible to them. What the testing does is validate the training. It’s the end credential.”
And, he says, it translates into real business benefits. “The parts people should know enough about the systems that they can properly interface with the technicians. We’re starting to do more surveys and we’re getting some feedback that the key motivator is improving the relationship between the parts counterperson and the technician.”
Lampel says that the Parts Specialist tests have evolved to focus on a variety of specialties, in heavy duty and dealerships, as well as the gold standard of automobile Parts Specialist Certification, what the ASE refers to as the P2 test. Currently there are four ASE Parts Specialist tests:
The Medium/Heavy Truck Parts Specialist (P1) Test was developed to assess the skills necessary to work in an OEM truck dealership.
The Automobile Parts Specialist (P2) Test was developed to assess the knowledge and the skills necessary to work at a retail or jobber parts store.
The Medium/Heavy Truck Aftermarket Parts Specialist (P3) Test is for parts specialists working for aftermarket distributors which may handle components for a limited number of Medium/Heavy Truck vehicle systems. Counterpeople can select an option on specific vehicle systems: the P3B Test focuses on brake systems, while the P3S Test focuses on suspension and steering systems.
The GM Parts Consultant (P4) Test covers similar ground to the P2 test, but with a tight focus on General Motors vehicles and procedures.
“As we continue to add the tests to the parts series, it’s indicative of how specific it’s getting,” says Lampel. “Specificity is the name of the game. For example, the General Motors Parts Consultant, they came to us.”
Lampel says that the best way to describe the purpose of ASE certification is to turn to a phrase in the registration booklet. “If I can quote from the booklet, ‘The objective of the parts specialist certification program is to improve the marketing of automotive and medium/heavy truck parts and service by improving the professionalism of parts specialists.’ If I were going to condense its purpose to a statement, that would probably be it.”
Parts Specialist Certification Testing is scheduled for May 7, 2002, with tests being held at numerous test centers across Canada.
Interested in Parts Specialist Certification or Other Tests?
The ASE offers a variety of tests for automotive technicians, parts specialists, machinists, body repair specialists and heavy-duty technicians. If you are interested in any of these areas, information is available at www.asecert.org or by calling (703) 669-6600.