Benefits of Student Certification: A Study of Automotive Service Managers

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Virginia Tech


Virginia and other states recognize the need for a technically trained workforce and have implemented directives that promote student credentialing. Certifications and other forms of credentialing are used to prove that the recipient has met a predetermined level of competence or mastery of a skill or subject. This study looks specifically at the automotive industry's Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. The primary research question is: Is there a perceived benefit of ASE certification? In addition, two subset questions are explored. The first subset question is (1) Does the ASE certification provide benefits to the employers? And second, (2) do the employers see a benefit of ASE certification to the technicians as compared to those without credentials? This study attempts to answer these questions by polling Virginia automobile service managers regarding their perceptions of the benefits of ASE certification.

A sample of 130 dealership service managers was selected at random from the 2006 Virginia Automobile Dealer Association (VADA) Membership Directory. The VADA has 602 franchised dealerships within the Commonwealth of Virginia. A corresponding sample of 130 independent service managers was selected by matching the zip codes of chosen dealerships with an internet phone directory search. The dealership service manager group had four surveys returned as undeliverable or the dealership was out of business. This leaves them with 126 potential participants. The independent service manager group had seven surveys returned as undeliverable or the service center was no longer in business. This leaves them with 123 potential participants. One hundred seventy-eight surveys were returned giving a 71% overall return rate.

Automotive technicians are employed at either dealerships or independent service centers. It is hypothesized that the perceptions of ASE certification benefits by the two groups are significantly different from each other. A t test was conducted regarding the difference between the unweighted composite mean scores of dealership service managers and independent service managers regarding both benefits to the employers and again regarding benefits to the technicians. The tests support the hypothesis that there was a significant difference between the perceptions of the two groups.

The study concludes that these groups perceive there are moderate benefits to the employer and moderate benefits to the technician; however, the dealership and independent service managers differ in their level of agreement in both categories. Dealership service managers agreed more than independent service managers that there were benefits.



automotive certification, credentialing, certification benefits