Automotive body repairers restore motor vehicles that have been damaged in traffic accidents to their original working condition and appearance. They usually work with cars and trucks, straightening bodies, removing dents and dings, and replacing parts that are beyond repair. They use specialized hydraulic equipment to restore vehicle components to precise factory specifications, and to return the vehicle to its original shape. Increasingly, they remove plastic panels, identify the plastic, and apply heat to mold the panel back to its original shape.
Automotive body repairers need to possess good reading and mathematics skills. Because automotive technology is becoming more and more computerized, the ability to operate computers proficiently has become a necessity. They must be able to follow instructions and interpret diagrams, as well as use technical manuals. Most automotive body repair shops have moved to a specialized, team approach, so the ability to work with a team is essential.
In 2002, automotive body repairers earned a median hourly wage of $15.71. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.70, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $27.10. Most automotive body repairers employed by automotive dealers and repair shops are paid on an incentive structure. Workers are paid a set amount for completing a specific task, making total earnings proportional to the amount of work completed, and how fast it was completed. However, it is standard for employers to guarantee a minimum weekly salary.
Training and Education
Many automotive body repairers receive extensive on-the-job training, as well as short trainings from vehicle, parts, and equipment manufacturers. Proficiency in new technology and repair techniques is essential, and workers with a minimum of training can be eligible for employment. However, employers greatly prefer to hire candidates with formal education and training. High schools, vocational schools, and community and technical colleges often have automotive body repair training programs. The highest standard a worker can achieve in the field is voluntary certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Workers must pass four exams and have at least 2 years of work experience to be certified as an ASE Master Collision Repair and Refinish Technician. You can check out a list of Auto Mechanic Schools by clicking on this link.
In 2002, automotive body repairers held about 198,000 jobs. The largest numbers of jobs are found in automotive repair and maintenance shops or automobile dealers. Other industries include trucking companies and wholesalers of motor vehicles, parts, and supplies. About 10% of workers were self-employed.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of automotive body repairers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. As the general population grows, so does the demand for cars, and hence the demand for experienced body repairers. However, this growth will be partially balanced by an increase in the quality of automotive parts, reducing the need for more extensive repairs. Most job openings will result from replacement needs due to workers who transfer occupations, retire, or leave the work force for some other reason. Most job growth will be found in automotive repair and maintenance shops and automobile dealers.