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What is Auto Body, Collision and Repair?
Auto Body, Collision and Repair is an area of study and field of employment that deals with the repair of damaged automobiles and the restoration of physical features to as close as possible to their factory release. Individuals in this field will repair frames, panels, windows, and any other parts affected through damage and collision to the exterior of an automobile, utilizing a variety of machines and tools in order to successfully complete a given job.
Auto body technicians perform a variety of tasks from restoring old vehicles to repairing vehicles that have been in an accident. In either case, you need to know the variations of job titles of an auto body professional before you start your schooling to get familiar with the verbiage and variations in the field. Examples of job titles of an auto body technician can include: automotive painter, auto body tech, auto body repair technician, collision repair tech, auto body specialist, body technician, auto body and frame specialist, auto body finisher, a/c technician, oil bay tech, service tech, and auto body repairman.
Auto Body & Collision Repair Specialties
The auto body and collision repair industry is partitioned into four different quadrants of specialties. Some individuals work to become proficient at one or more discipline while others specialize in one area. In either case, it is common to have substantial collaboration and communication between auto body disciplines to meet customer expectations and finish required jobs. The four primary areas of work within auto body include the following:
- Painting: The painting and finishing discipline within auto body and collision repair can be the final step in the process or the only step depending on the job type and customer requirements. To effectively paint and finish a vehicle, specialist need to be proficient at mixing paint, masking, painting, matching paint colors, sanding, and priming.
- Structural: Structural damage analysis requires trained professionals and equipment necessary to inspect, analyze, measure, modify, and repair frames and auto bodies. Specialists will frequently be trained to disassemble and repair auto frames through cutting, brazing, and welding techniques that meet or exceed industry standards.
- Minor Repairs: This area of specialty involves most everything that is not structural in nature. Auto body and collision repair specialists can perform minor repairs such as removing dents, replacing plastics and composite parts, replacing glass, replacing or modifying outer body panels, and finish work.
- Electrical & Mechanical: The electrical or mechanical function is a discipline that focuses on repairing or replacing a variety of components. Examples of work involved in this area of specialty includes brakes, calipers, suspension systems, air conditioning, drive train systems, electrical systems, and fuel systems.
Auto Body Schools Near Me
A variety of auto body schools can be found near you. With MatchCollege, you can find schools below on this resource page or by using our proprietary matching portal here. In either case, you can simply find schools that fit your goals and budget by requesting information with a few clicks without visiting each school or picking up the phone. After receiving information packets from your chosen schools, align the offerings with your priority list and narrow down your list to a handful of programs. Next, you will need to contact those specific schools to gather additional information about their programs, application process, classes, and financial aid offerings. Last, you will apply to on-site or online schools that fit you best to earn a degree or certificate of completion before starting work.
How to Become an Auto Body or Collision Repair Tech?
In order to become an auto body tech or collision repair tech, you will need to complete a formalized training program. A recent survey of auto body technicians suggests formal education through a college or trade school best prepares you for work in the field. Formal education typically comes in one of two ways from an accredited college or trade school: certificate programs or degree programs.
Certificate programs in auto body are typically 6-18 month programs provide students with the essentials of auto body and collision repair. Certificate programs in auto body are earned from a trade school, college, community college, vocational school, or technical institute. Degree programs, on the other hand, are 2-year associate degrees that typically include general education courses plus core curriculum in auto body. Courses will vary from school to school but often include core classes in:
- Engine Management Systems – engine theory, service information systems, engine inspection, cooling systems, environmental management, starting systems, batteries, and electrical systems
- Automotive Diagnostics - fuel systems, powertrain control, onboard diagnostics, electronic ignition, electronics, emission systems, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and fuel ignition systems
- Chassis – inspection, HVAC, bearings, brakes, steering systems, tires, suspension systems, traction control systems, and vibration analysis
- Drivetrain Systems – gears, hydraulics, transmissions, transaxles, differentials, instrumentation, diagnostics, and drivetrains
In addition to core mechanical and electrical knowledge, students in a formalized trade school or college will learn about safety in the shop, materials, methods, procedures, regulations, terminology, and business practices in the automotive industry. Equipping students with the basics along with higher-level knowledge about the industry prepares you for a variety of work environments across a number of sectors.
Continuing education or additional certifications can be earned after degree completion in auto body. Organizations such as ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) or I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) provide additional training and professional certificates for auto body professionals. Additional training and certification may be important for some techs to upskill, create upward mobility in a shop, and to increase pay.
One and two year programs are available at community colleges and career schools that provide the education and practical experience necessary to enter an auto repair facility and seek supervised labor. Individuals having recently graduated from a program will work with experienced professionals in order to apply learned techniques as well as glean techniques and methods not available or covered through one's course of study. Individuals are not required to graduate from a program to be considered for employment, and many in the field will work as apprentices under the guidance of an experienced expert, though certification and licensure will take longer.
A program in auto body, collision and repair may include:
- Rust Repair
- Frame Pulling and Restoration
- Filler for Restoration and Cosmetic Use
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Opportunities and Job Growth
Individuals will seek employment at various auto repair centers that specialize in collisions repair and auto body, or have facilities on site where such work may take place. Individuals with an education in auto repair are more likely to be hired than those seeking training on the job, though both are possible routes for employment. Individuals will have to be familiar with a variety of tools and machines used to take apart and repair various portions of the auto body or frame. Individuals may seek voluntary certification through examination with Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which demonstrates ability and quality of work to both employers and customers. Job growth is expected to remain steady over the next decade as individuals maintain an interest in renewing and restoring damaged automobiles.
How Much Money Does an Auto Body Specialist Make?
Auto body and collision repair techs is a competitive trade across the country. The money you will make in the industry will depend on your work experience, place of employment, and geographic location. That being said, the national median income for an auto body and collision repair technician is $40,370 with the top 10% making near $70,000 a year. The industry is set to grow 9% in the coming decade adding some 15,300 jobs during the same reporting period.
It is common for auto body specialists to earn a base salary plus earn incentives for quality work and productivity while other shops may pay on commission only, piece-meal work, or pay by the hour. In either case, make sure you understand the pay structure, reputation of the shop, expected training, incentives, and overall compensation package in advance.
Top Job Duties in Auto Body Repair
In a recent survey completed by the United States Department of Labor of auto body techs and collision repair specialists, a list of job duties and job responsibilities are illuminated for prospective applicants. While jobs will vary from location to location and state to state, a list of the top job duties in auto body include the following items:
- Following guidance of management to restore or replace specific parts or assembly units along with resources and time involved in each job
- Reviewing reports, preparing repair cost estimates, and planning work to be performed
- Preparing body areas to be painted and cover bumpers, windows, and trim with masking tape and paper to protect them
- Welding auto parts into place, using wrenches, and grinding weld joints to prepare for finish work
- Priming and painting repaired surfaces, using spray guns and motorized sanders
States with Highest Employment in Auto Body Repair
- California 13,170
- Texas 11,020
- Florida 9,430
- Texas 7,150
- Pennsylvania 7,090
Top Paying States in Auto Body Repair
- District of Columbia $67,290
- Maryland $58,320
- Alaska $53,540
- Michigan $51,710
- Washington $51,290
Top Employers of Auto Body Repair Specialists
- Automotive Repair & Maintenance Shops
- Auto Dealers
- Automotive Parts Suppliers
- Auto Wholesalers
- Car Manufacturing Companies
Salary and Related Fields
The average salary for an auto body collision repair specialist is approximately $36,500 per year, but varies greatly based on experience and location. Individuals in the field are also beholden to the length of the work and competitive pricing. As with many professions, locations in populous or urban settings will have more business due to volume, and specialists in restoration may ask higher prices due to skill, unique abilities and experience.
Additional Resources in Auto Body & Collision Repair
- Society of Collision Repair
- National Auto Body Council
- Independent Auto Body Association
- Collision Industry Relief
- Coalition for Collision Repair
- Automotive Service Association
- Alliance of Automotive Service
- National Automotive Technicians Education