Accidents happen, which is why there may always be a healthy demand for skilled and knowledgeable auto collision repair technicians.
Collision repair trade schools may be worth exploring for those who are interested in pursuing opportunities in auto-body shops, where they may restore, refinish and replace the crumpled pieces of vehicles damaged in accidents. Students interested in collision repair trade schools may also choose to specialize in glass repair and replacement or another targeted specialty.
Job opportunities after collision repair trade school
According to the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), a non-profit training organization, studying in collision repair trade schools may also prepare students for a range of jobs, including:
- Non-structural technician
- Steel structural technician
- Electrical-mechanical technician
- Auto physical damage appraiser
Collision repair certification and degree programs
Students typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent to get into one of the collision repair trade schools. Potential employers may prefer to hire those who have completed formal training, and repairers can also get special training from vehicle and paint manufacturers. Some auto-body repair workers also get advanced certification from such groups as I-CAR and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. These certifications may serve to assure prospective customers that the auto-body shop uses the latest technology.
Automotive body repair salary and outlook
The demand for auto-body repairers is expected to grow by 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). The nature of the work is changing, however. Better safety features, such as sensor technology, may cut down on collisions, and more-expensive replacement parts mean more cars will be declared "totaled" rather than be repaired.
The most demand for graduates of collision repair trade schools is likely to be the heavily populated northeastern U.S., which typically has the highest percentage of reported accidents. As the BLS points out, areas that experience regular inclement weather, such as ice and snow, are also likely to have a high demand.
The BLS reports a national annual median salary for auto body repairers of $38,850 as of May 2013. The lowest 10 percent earned up to $23,550, while the top 10 percent earned at least $67,010. Salary will depend on a number of factors, including geographical location, experience and area of focus. Some industries with the highest level of employment, with mean national annual salaries from the BLS, include:
- Auto repair and maintenance. $42,060
- Auto dealers. 444,280
- Motor vehicle parts and suppliers wholesale. $39,090
- Auto parts, accessories and tire stores. $34,920
- Local government. $50,660
Auto collision repair is a demanding and exacting job, but skilled workers are valued and compensated accordingly. Workers with certification may be candidates for higher wages and find themselves in higher demand, according to the BLS.
Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493021.htm
Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm
"Fueling Your Passion for Cars," Driving Today, http://www.drivingtoday.com/features/archive/crashes/index.html#axzz2x7AZgkN5
Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, http://www.collisioncareers.org/shtml/collision_career_development.shtmlNational Institute for Automobile Service Excellence, https://www.ase.com/Home.aspx
Auto Collision Repair and Refinishing Technician, Waukesha County Technical College, http://www.wctc.edu/programs-and-courses/applied-technologies/auto-collision-repair-refinish/index.php