Automotive Body Repairers
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||135,610|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.9%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||6,520|
- For better employability, many workers opt to undergo certificate training from a technical school or earn an associate's degree from a community college.
- A degree is not necessary for many automotive body repair technician jobs.
What you study:
A curriculum in automotive collision repair might include coursework in:
- Electronics and wiring
- Automotive fundamentals
- Metal working and welding
- Computer-aided design
This quick video shows what auto body repairers do. Produced for the US Dept of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a recently certified collision repair technician, you look forward to putting your knowledge to use. You work in a full-service automotive body repair and paint shop, but you specialize in reconstructing sheet metal and side panels. Many customers drop off their cars before they head to the office, so you're there early and can get started as soon as a new car comes into the shop. You aren't the only one who's there early; the repair shop's receptionist and some of the other technicians greet you when you arrive.
After getting a cup of coffee and chatting briefly with the other techs, you check the book of work orders and plan your approach to the day's projects. Your previous job as an auto mechanic gave you useful training, but the art and science of rebuilding cars appeals to you more than engine maintenance. From slide hammers to plasma cutters, the shop you're in now has everything you need to make dents disappear.
A car that was in a fender bender needs some minor body work and paint before its front grill can be replaced. You make this job your priority to allow the painter and the technician in charge of replacing the grill to start their work. With a pick hammer, a punch and other hand tools, you spend part of your morning restoring the original curve of the front fender and smoothing the crumpled metal. By the time you're finished, the car's contour is symmetrical. It's ready for the paint booth.
Your next project is more of a challenge; a car that was hit at an intersection has major damage at the point of impact on its side and along its front end where it hit a pole. Its shattered windshield will also need to be replaced. The insurance company and the driver will need to know the final cost to restore the car; it's your job to assess damage as well as repair it, so you're thorough in your inspection. You see that the door and front fender will need to be replaced, so you consult the manufacturer's parts list for your estimate. The shop's noisy environment makes it tough to concentrate, so you step into the office to use the computer and finish your pricing.
After lunch, you get the go-ahead to begin work on the damaged car. Until the new door and side panel arrive, you can't do much with it, so you turn your attention to other jobs. You've put in a rush order on the replacement door, though, and you make a note to leave room in your schedule next week for installation. The rest of your afternoon consists of replacing a rearview mirror and pulling minor dents.
Today has been fairly light; it's a welcome change from a month ago when damage from a passing hailstorm kept the shop busy well into the night. You let the receptionist know that two cars are ready to go home with their owners and straighten your work area. The glass repair technician promises to take a look at the car with the shattered windshield tomorrow. After a quick look at the order book, you're on your way home.
Certifications and Licensing
Many employers prefer automotive body repair technicians who have earned certification through an accredited organization. Students can earn further certification in specialized areas of collision repair such as auto glass repair and replacement, metal fabrication or auto body painting.
Full-time versus part-time and work location:
The majority of automotive body repairers work in indoor garages and shops, but some glass repair technicians travel to their customers' cars and trucks. Self-employed technicians can set their own hours, but most work day shifts in garages.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Automotive Body and Glass Repairers – Visitors considering a career in collision repair and automotive body restoration will find general information at this site. Statistics on median income and career demand forecasts make the Occupational Outlook Handbook pages useful for those just starting in the field as well as those making a career change.
- Automotive Service Association – As one of the largest not-for-profit organizations for automotive repair specialists, the ASA acts as an advocacy group and an information source for its members. Visitors can find tools for working with insurance companies on collision repair timetables, legislative alerts, industry news and free publications. Education and financial aid information is also available to members.
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence – The ASE focuses on all aspects of automotive repair and maintenance and offers certification to more than 350,000 workers in the industry. Visitors can learn about ASE certification and specialization, prepare for certification exams and subscribe to the organization's free newsletter. The Quicklinks section is an excellent place to get started on the site.
- National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation – Students seeking information about accredited training and certification programs will find a wealth of information at the NATEF website. The organization gives readers a glimpse into what certification and training programs must do to become accredited.