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SAE Certification

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It’s easy to get turned around when digging into SAE certification online. One can easily stumble on ASE certification and think it’s the same thing, but despite both involving the automotive industry, they’re not the same, and the certifications carry different weights. SAE International was originally the Society of Automotive Engineers, but today it involves the automotive, aerospace and commercial transport industries.

Who Is SAE International?

SAE International is both the professional organization for people in the automotive, aerospace and commercial transport engineering circles as well as being a standards-developing organization. It does the latter by establishing safe operation and fabrication limits for equipment and parts in the making of cars, planes and other aeronautics as well as commercial shipping vehicles.

Today, SAE is a globally recognized organization that represents engineers, establishes best practices and offers continuing-education opportunities. These ongoing education programs include seminars and classroom programs, on-demand courses and online programs.

About the SAE Certificate

Having an SAE certificate is not the same as having SAE certification, though both have value beyond an engineer’s university degree, and it’s possible to get certificates in addition to gaining certification. Certificates are documents that certify an engineer’s completion of single courses on specialized methods or materials, or they can be issued for completing a curriculum on a topic.

Having such certificates can be advantageous on one’s resume if looking for a job that focuses on a specific subset of, say, aeronautic engineering. Instructor-led classroom courses can be taken in Asia, Europe and North America, where training topics include dozens of courses that are available in nine different catalog categories that cover:

  • Aerospace Technology.
  • Management: Leadership and Product Development.
  • Noise, Vibration and Harshness.
  • Safety and Accident Reconstruction.
  • Manufacturing and Materials Technology.
  • Powertrain Technology.
  • Engineering Tools and Methods.
  • Chassis and Vehicle Dynamics Technology.
  • Electrical and Electronics.

Sample Certificate Courses

There’s a massive variety of courses possible under each topic. Course costs tend to be several hundreds of dollars up to the thousands, but joining SAE as a professional for $110 annually or $30 annually as a student would save you around 10 to 15 percent off any courses taken (but membership offers far more than just a discount). As an example, for the Engineering Tools and Methods training catalog alone, you’ll find a 92-page document with dozens of courses like:

  •  Effective Writing for Engineering and Technical Professionals.
  •  Introduction to ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016.
  •  Vibration Analysis Using Finite Element Analysis.

If you’re already working in an engineering firm, investigate whether your company would cover costs as part of a continuing-education benefit. Otherwise, do note that courses tend to be tax deductible. The catalog is clear on course costs for both members and nonmembers, and it also lists for whom the course is ideal as well as the program highlights.

Having SAE Certification

SAE certification is considerably more comprehensive than a certificate because it is meant to go far beyond your university degree. If you have SAE certification, it means you have a credential that shows you’ve been industry vetted_._ As the SAE website explains, to gain certification, you’ll need to pass “an industry-developed, vetted, and proctored exam that tests mastery of an industry-defined body of knowledge.”

Once you’ve attained certification, you’ll need to keep it maintained by staying abreast of the industry and meeting SAE’s maintenance requirements.

Dig in Online

The SAE website has comprehensive information about all their available certificates and about certification. Plus, they have a great “learning center” available for free, which provides support to engineers who are problem solving or innovating and who may need some specific answers to their issues.


Steffani Cameron is a nomad, writer, photographer, from Vancouver, Canada, who is slow-travelling the world for five years. Her work has appeared in Washington Post, Vox Media, Kitchn, About, and more.