Auto Computer & Electronics, LLC
As I alluded to on the 'About' page, I did allow my ASE credentials to lapse. By my choice. There are reasons why, but the reasons why have nothing to with my stance on voluntaryNational Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (NIASE) technician certification and my support for voluntary programs like those that NIASE offer.
Please allow me to explain. When I first started in the automotive repair field, NIASE certification was rather rare and though not unheard of, I recall only one shop in the area where I grew up that advertised 'ASE Certified mechanics.' It was a good shop and did have good techs, but they weren't the only good techs in the area and I was pretty confident that the shop I worked at had the best techs in the area. Sure, that's a biased opinion, but based on the people I knew and where they chose to have their car work done, the common view seemed to validate my opinion.
NIASE wasn't a hiring requirement for any mechanical job I ever had and only recall a few I ever worked with who were certified technicians. Not to disparage anyone that was, or weren't, several of guys who mentored me were 'naturals,' had been so their entire adult lives and probably could teach the certified guys a thing or three about cars and the auto repair world.
A lot is different in today's world, especially in the arena of automotive technology, but the basic premise I mentioned above seems to be the same today as it was then. Certification doesn't guarantee proficiency or work ethic and not to take anything away from programs or organizations like NIASE, my opinion is because they can't guarantee such things.
My point is that learning and improving should be a given in any career and any thing or organization that encourages personal improvement and personal development is a good idea that I'd support, provided it is voluntary. To me, voluntary consent is one of the keys to the success of programs like what NIASE is and what it represents. When the voluntary component diminishes, or is later removed, it ceases to be a positive 'encouragement' and begins to look like something else and that's where I find myself today.
The pendulum seems to have swung to the other extreme these days and now it's almost as if the NIASE credentials are seen as, if not treated as, a 'license' to be a technician and that is something I don't now, nor would I ever, support. The idea of technician 'licensing' isn't a new one. It was around when I started out too, but I'm as against it now as I was then. Have you ever heard the saying: "What is a permit? (or a license) Well that's when the government takes away your rights and sells them back to you." I'm not saying NIASE, or anyone else has done that, yet, but I see indicators that cause me some concern.
That's one aspect. The other is this and it's perhaps a 'blue collar' view of life, but that's all I really know so keep that in mind. Being 'educated' also doesn't mean what it used to. Not that there's anything wrong with higher education per se and I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I think if we're being honest with each other, more and more people are coming out of 'higher education' institutions that don't know the first thing about real life, or the real world, and many have degrees in things that I don't know if there's even a career demand for. Hopefully you get my point.
That leads to my next point, expiration dates. Granted, a college degree represents something different than an automotive credential, but I'm not in agreement that it represents something of lesser value, or lesser personal effort, than a college degree. So, in freely acknowledging that this may well be an 'apples and oranges' comparison, consider that no matter when someone earned their college degree, it never expires. Ever. No matter what the degree may be in, it's valid and accepted so in perpetuity. So why does my automotive 'degree' expire every four years, if the purpose is not actually to become a de facto 'license?'
What I an others like me have in our knowledge base doesn't change from one day to the next. What we've accomplished doesn't change from one day to the next. Our experience doesn't evaporate from one day to the next. So what is the expiration date issue really about?
As far as renewing my credentials goes, I'm undecided at this stage of life. I'm mostly of the opinion that it's just another series of things to do in weeks of days that are already jam packed with life and things that need to get done. Also, my work, my skills, my life experiences, my training, my work history, all speak for themselves and I don't feel that I need to be 'signed off' anymore, by anyone, at my stage of life, probably by people that know less on the topic than I do.
For now though, I don't believe 'expired' ASE certs are an indication of anything 'less than' or in any way indicative of lack of ability, or in any way compromising the excellent service that I routinely deliver to my customers. I have and will continue to, learn, train, read, develop and absorb as much as possible so that I can remain on the top tier of a profession that is every bit as difficult, challenging, and time intensive as any other. I don't need a piece of paper to hang on my wall for that.
I may someday decide to go take all the ASE tests to 'recertify' again. Maybe not.