Auto Body repair specialists are responsible for both minor maintenance and complex upkeep repairing damage caused by the day to day use of personally operated vehicles. Damage may be minor including minor dings and dents or scraped paint, or more complex to engine maintenance and replacing major parts. They work on all types of vehicles from family cars up to commercially operated trucks, buses and vans. Auto body repair technicians can either be self employed and own their own repair garage or work with a company under supervision or as a specialist in a specific field.
Most auto body repair mechanics work a standard 40 hour work week, and may or may not include working weekends. Median hourly salary ranges between $16.50-$18.00 per hour with the mean average being $17.81 as of 2008. Most auto body repair technicians are employed by independently operated garages and are paid based on the nature of the work conducted. Employers often guarantee a minimum weekly salary for full time employees. New and trainee candidates make a partial percentage until promoted to full Auto body repair specialist status.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Benefits offered vary by employer. Often times independently own garages will not offer additional benefits. Others may include group health insurance. Usually all auto repair mechanics will receive paid time off. Auto body repair technicians employed by a dealership will often receive a retirement stipend or 401k benefit.
Job Description and Outlook
Auto body repair technicians must use their training and best judgment to asses any situation. Repair requests can be minor such as correcting scratches or fixing minor dings, to dismantling and replacing major parts such as engine parts and transmission lines. Auto body repair technicians work out of a garage which houses any specialized tools or equipment needed to preform the nature of the work. This may also cause loud uncomfortable noises on an ongoing basis.
Larger shops may have an assembly line structure with an auto body repair technician specializing in a specific category. These categories may include paint, structure and framing and others. Garages should be well ventilated to help diffuse dust and other chemicals from the area. However, often times space restrictions cause cramped and awkward working conditions.
Future prospects for Auto body repair technicians will remain constant. However, as drivers increase on the road, so will the need for technicians. Also conversely, as the number of drivers decrease so will the need for auto body specialists.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Auto Body Repair specialists are required to have at least a high school diploma, GED or equivalent but will also require additional training and education in this specialized field. Collision repair programs and certifications are offered by some high schools, specialized licensed trade schools or through local community colleges. Adequate preparation for the nature of this work includes a basic working knowledge and education in English, physics, chemistry and electronics.
New auto body repair candidates will begin work by working as in an apprenticeship to receive one on one on the job training from an experienced auto body repair technician. Often they are assigned to minor detailing and prep work such as fixing scratches or minor dings and progress to more difficult maintenance jobs such as frame repair and other major repair needs. Generally it can take up to 5 years of experience inclusive of education to become thoroughly skilled and knowledgeable in all aspects of auto body repair.
Specialized trade schools and community colleges offer certification programs for Auto Body Repair candidates in collision repair and other vehicle maintenance education. These specialized programs can be completed anywhere between 6 months in time to 2 years, depending on the depth of knowledge and amount of materials covered during the course. As the technology of cars coming off the assembly line advances, so will the breadth of knowledge required to successfully complete the job. Trade schools and community colleges also often offer individual courses to be taken on an as needed basis.
Professional associations for Auto body repair mechanics can include membership and certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence or ASE. While membership is voluntary, ASE certification is a nationally recognized industry credential. In order to receive this certification, prospective candidates must take up to four ASE master collision repair courses and successfully pass a refinish exam. Auto body repair mechanics and technicians must re-test every 5 years in order to maintain certification. In addition, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair or I-CAR offers additional training and education to achieve advance ASE certification status. Lastly, many individual vehicle manufacturing companies may offer certification courses specially designed to cater to their respective line of vehicles. This specified education will be needed for those prospective candidates wishing to work with Hybrid or other alternative fuel and non conventional vehicles.