Auto body repair can be both a gratifying and lucrative field. Collision repair experts help get people back on the road and to normal life after an accident, and such professionals can also see the fruits of their labor in an unmistakable manner. In 2016, the median salary for an auto body repair professional was approximately $58,000.
Here are the steps it takes to become an auto body repair technician by informally studying under another mechanic, as well as how to gain a certification in auto body repair to enter the profession.
How to become a technician through an apprenticeship
Step 1: Talk to local auto body repair technicians. Have a conversation with auto body repair techs in your area, and tell them you are wanting to enter the field.
Find out how they got started in the profession and ask if they are open to taking on an apprentice.
Step 2: Choose a technician to be your mentor. In your conversations with technicians, there may be some people you feel comfortable with and others that you don’t.
Bear in mind that you will spend a lot of time with the individual to which you become an apprentice. Your mentor should be knowledgeable, easy for you to understand, and someone you can respect.
Step 3: Do the work and be open to learning. Many apprentices are paid little to no wages, but that doesn’t mean you can treat the position as disposable.
As with any other job, show up on time and ready to work and learn.
Step 4: Fly on your own merits. Once your mentor has decided you have learned enough to begin paid work in the field of auto body repair, he or she may offer you a position in their shop or supply you with a recommendation to other auto body repair shops that are hiring.
Step 1: Earn your high school diploma or GED. Formal education programs in auto body repair require you have your high school diploma or GED to begin.
Step 2: Research training programs. Community colleges and technical or vocational schools often have courses of study to certify as an auto body repair technician.
Ask for information on programs in your area and see which ones best meet your budget and needs.
Step 3: Apply to at least two programs. It is a good idea to apply to at least two programs - a first choice and a second choice. That way, if you are not accepted into your most coveted program, you have another avenue to explore.
Step 4: Enroll. Once you’ve made a choice of formal education program, follow the enrollment procedures. If you are unsure of what to do, ask for an appointment with an advisor.
Step 5: Work and learn. Show up to your classes, so homework, study, and take advantage of as many hands-on learning opportunities as you can.
Step 6: Seek employment after graduation/certification. After you have completed the program, send your resume to local auto body repair shops or visit them in person to let them know a qualified individual is seeking work.
Regardless of which method you choose to become an auto body repair technician, it is advisable to periodically seek continuing education. As new automotive materials and technology enter the market, new techniques come into demand. Your survival in this field depends on staying up to date and being able to repair the bodies of all types of vehicles.