Test anxiety is normal, especially for people who have chosen a job working with their hands. Therefore, industry officials recommend before taking the NATE ACE exam that techs go through a good training program, such as those offered by ACCA, RSES, and other sources.

According to ACCA’s Roger Jask, there’s one thing the new NATE ACE exam can’t test: hands-on acuity.

“This test is not capable of testing instinct for problem-solving, but it can certify levels of knowledge,” he said.

According to Jask, certification essentially means that “It appears that this person has knowledge” of a particular subject area. It cannot test how well they apply that knowledge. Certification testing for automotive repair through SAE is similar, he said.

“It measures the body of knowledge,” said Jask.

And testing is not just about certification.

“Certification is only a snapshot of the knowledge a person has,” said Jask. “They can identify areas for training.”

And truly, when you’re talking about technician retention, it’s a training issue more than a certification issue.

“[Technicians] don’t want to stumble around their jobs,” said Jask.