Is There an Official Certification for Automotive Detailing You Should Look For?

Automotive detailing is a major industry, like many other aspects of the automotive industry, that works toward maintaining cars after they are purchased. For mechanics, there is a more obvious certification that allows consumers to recognize their credentials, called the ASE. When it comes to detailing, however, there is a lesser-recognized certification option.

Do you have to be certified to become a detailer?

To become a professional detailer or even start a professional detailing business, you don’t necessarily have to obtain any form of detailing certification. Perhaps that is because when it comes to detailing, the results of each individual’s work is pretty obvious, and you can tell the good detailers from the bad based on their work, as opposed to mechanics who work on less conspicuous areas of the vehicle.

a nissan being washed
Cars being washed at a car wash | Liam McBurney, PA Images, Getty Images

Being a good detailer takes time and practice

While detailing a vehicle doesn’t involve any mechanical or electrical work, it can still be a very time-consuming and technical process. Automotive detailers undertake a number of tasks inside and outside of the car, which can include technical skills such as paint correction and ceramic coating application. Oftentimes skills like these are acquired through apprenticeships, but they can also be learned through schooling. Because of this, certifications aren’t a requirement.

Two workers wash a car
Men working at car wash | Jeffrey Greenberg, Universal Images Group, Getty Images

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What is the International Detailing Association

Just because you don’t have to be certified to professionally detail cars doesn’t mean that there aren’t certification programs and associations to establish quality and procedures for many aspects of automotive detailing. Detailers can opt to become a part of the International Detailing Association and become certified through skills testing, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better detailers than those without the certification.

Like other organizations, the IDA has several levels and types of certifications, each with its own set of testing and requirement. There are even specialty certifications for a less generalized form of detailing, such as marine detailing, which can vary slightly.

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The International Detailing Association, IDA, also works as a community connecting automotive detailers, suppliers, and operators together. There are many benefits of detailers joining the IDA even if it isn’t a requirement to open an automotive detailing business.

If you are looking for a local professional detailer, you shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t have an IDA certification, as many high-quality professional detailers may not have the optional certification.