A collision repair technician, also known as an autobody repairer, removes dents, replaces crumpled parts, and straightens bent bodies on all types of vehicles. To work in this field, you need a broad knowledge of automotive construction and repair techniques, since the damage to every vehicle is different. And since automotive technology continues to advance and become more sophisticated every day, most employers prefer workers who have formal training.
You can find autobody repair programs at technical schools, trade schools, and community colleges, although the type of diploma and length of the program differs. Trade and technical schools usually grant a certificate in collision repair after 6 months or a year. Community colleges tend to offer 2-year programs.
Crash Courses--Learning About Repair:All of these training programs should offer both classes and hands-on-practical experience. Your courses may include:
If you don't have a lot of hands-on experience after completing your autobody repair program, your employer might start you on basic tasks like assisting an experienced mechanic with sanding body panels, removing damaged parts, and installing newly repaired parts. After you've mastered those skills, you can move on to adjusting the vehicle's alignment or straightening and repairing body parts yourself--or even being a full-time, well educated mechanic with some great collision repair experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in this field should increase by 12 percent from 2006-2016, and many current workers are approaching retirement, creating excellent job opportunities for those with formal training. Since autobody repair isn't usually affected by economic downturns, you should also have excellent job security. Lay-offs are rare.
The 2008 salary reports from the BLS show that collision repair technicians earn an mean hourly wage of $19.21, or an median yearly salary of $39,950.
It's unfortunate for drivers--but great for you--that accidents will always happen. Earning your diploma, certificate, or even your degree in this industry can make you the hero of the accident-prone driver. Not only that, but formal training in the field from a collision repair school puts you ahead of the game when it comes to hiring.