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Become An Auto Body Mechanic

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Working As An Auto Body Mechanic

  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $49,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Auto Body Mechanic Do

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

Duties

Automotive body repairers typically do the following:

  • Review damage reports, prepare cost estimates, and plan work
  • Inspect cars for structural damage
  • Remove damaged body parts, including bumpers, fenders, hoods, grilles, and trim
  • Realign car frames and chassis to repair structural damage
  • Hammer out or patch dents, dimples, and other minor body damage
  • Fit, attach, and weld replacement parts into place
  • Sand, buff, and prime refurbished and repaired surfaces
  • Apply new finish to restored body parts

Automotive glass installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Examine damaged windshields and assess reparability
  • Clean damaged areas and prepare the surfaces for repair
  • Stabilize chips and cracks with clear resin
  • Remove glass that cannot be repaired
  • Check windshield frames for rust
  • Clean windshield frames and prepare them for installation
  • Apply urethane sealant to the windshield frames
  • Install replacement glass
  • Replace any parts removed prior to repairs

Automotive body and glass repairers can repair most damage from vehicle collisions and make vehicles look and drive like new. Repairs may be minor, such as replacing a cracked windshield, or major, such as replacing an entire door panel. After a major collision, the underlying frame of a car can become weakened or compromised. Body repairers restore the structural integrity of car frames to manufacturer specifications.

Body repairers use many tools for their work. They use pneumatic tools and plasma cutters to remove damaged parts, such as bumpers and door panels. They also often use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks and hammers for major structural repairs, such as aligning the body. For some work, they use common hand tools, such as metal files, pliers, wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers.

In some cases, body repairers complete an entire job by themselves. In other cases, especially in large shops, they use an assembly line approach in which they work as a team with each individual performing a specialized task.

Although body repairers sometimes prime and paint repaired parts, painting and coating workers generally perform these tasks.

Glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location and perform their work in the field. They commonly use specialized tools such as vacuum pumps to fill windshield cracks and chips with a stabilizing resin. When windshields are badly damaged, they use knives to remove the damaged windshield, and then they secure the new windshield using a special urethane adhesive.

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How To Become An Auto Body Mechanic

Most employers prefer to hire automotive body and glass repairers who have completed a formal training program in automotive body or glass repair. Still, many new body and glass repairers begin work without formal training. Industry certification is increasingly important.

Education

High school, trade and technical school, and community college programs in collision repair combine hands-on practice and technical instruction. Topics usually include electronics, repair cost estimation, and welding, all of which provide a strong educational foundation for a career as a body repairer. Although not required, postsecondary education often provides the best preparation.

Trade and technical school programs typically award certificates after 6 months to 1 year of study. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in collision repair. Many of these schools also offer certificates for individual courses, so students can take classes part time or as needed.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification is recommended because it shows competence and usually brings higher pay. In some instances it is required for advancement beyond entry-level work.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a standard credential for body repairers. In addition, many vehicle and paint manufacturers have product certification programs that train body repairers in specific technologies and repair methods.

A few states require a license to perform automotive glass installation and repair. Check with your state for more information.

Training

New workers typically begin their on-the-job training by helping an experienced body repairer with basic tasks, such as fixing minor dents. As they gain experience, they move on to more complex work, such as aligning car frames. Some body repairers may become trained in as little as 1 year, but they generally need 2 or 3 years of hands-on training to become fully independent body repairers. 

Basic automotive glass installation and repair can be learned in as little as 6 months, but becoming fully independent can take up to a year of training.

Formally educated workers often require significantly less on-the-job training and typically advance to independent work more quickly than those who do not have the same level of education.

Throughout their careers, body repairers need to continue their education and training to keep up with rapidly changing automotive technology. Body repairers are expected to develop their skills by reading technical manuals and by attending classes and seminars. Many employers regularly send workers to advanced training programs, such as those offered by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).

Advancement

Automotive body and glass repairers earn more money as they gain experience, and some may advance into management positions within body shops, especially those workers with 2- or 4-year degrees.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Automotive body and glass repairers must be able to evaluate vehicle damage and determine necessary repair strategies. In some cases, they must decide if a vehicle is “totaled,” or too damaged to justify the cost of repair.

Customer-service skills. Automotive body and glass repairers must discuss auto body and glass problems, along with options to fix them, with customers. Workers must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Automotive body and glass repairers must pay close attention to detail. Restoring a damaged auto body or windshield to its original state requires workers to have a keen eye for even the smallest imperfection. 

Dexterity. Many body repairers’ tasks, such as removing door panels, hammering out dents, and using hand tools to install parts, require a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Body repairers must know which diagnostic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and other power equipment and tools are appropriate for certain procedures and repairs. They must know how to apply the correct techniques and methods necessary to repair modern automobiles.

Physical strength. Automotive body and glass repairers must sometimes lift heavy parts, such as door panels and windshields.

Time-management skills. Automotive body and glass repairers must be timely in their repairs. For many people, their automobile is their primary mode of transportation.

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Average Length of Employment
Auto Body Painter 5.3 years
Auto Body Worker 4.3 years
Auto Mechanic 4.0 years
Auto Body Mechanic 4.0 years
Auto Body Repairer 3.7 years
Body Mechanic 3.6 years
Mechanic 3.6 years
Body Repairer 3.3 years
Body Technician 2.8 years
Body Shop Worker 2.7 years
Auto Body Detailer 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Auto Body Mechanic
Mechanic 14.3%
Technician 7.5%
Welder 6.2%
Painter 4.3%
Cook 3.7%
Manager 3.7%
Cashier 3.7%
Supervisor 3.1%
Helper 3.1%
Detailer 3.1%
Top Careers After Auto Body Mechanic
Mechanic 13.9%
Manager 5.2%
Driver 4.6%
Cashier 4.6%
Owner 4.0%
Supervisor 4.0%
Technician 4.0%
Operator 4.0%
Painter 4.0%
Installer 3.5%

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Top Skills for An Auto Body Mechanic

  1. Vehicle Bodies
  2. Install Replacement Parts
  3. Diesel Engines
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Cut openings in vehicle bodies for the installation of customized windows, using templates and power shears or chisels.
  • General labor to a gasoline engines and diesel engines.
  • File, grind, sand and smooth filled or repaired surfaces, using power tools and hand tools.
  • Remove dents, paint, prep work, buffing, assemble and disassemble, tire mounting and balancing and sanding.
  • Use computerized equipment to assist in the diagnosis of mechanical problems.

Auto Body Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

83.7%

Unknown

12.0%

Female

4.3%
Ethnicity

White

64.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.3%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Samoan

25.0%

Polish

12.5%

Portuguese

12.5%
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Auto Body Mechanic Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

12.1%

Rose State College

6.1%

Northern Maine Community College

6.1%

Central State University

6.1%

Ranken Technical College

6.1%

Pennsylvania State University

6.1%

Trident Technical College

6.1%

Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg

6.1%

University of Phoenix

6.1%

Lehigh Carbon Community College

6.1%

Craven Community College

6.1%

Dakota County Technical College

3.0%

Remington College-Houston Campus

3.0%

Baker University

3.0%

Missouri Southern State University

3.0%

Central New Mexico Community College

3.0%

State University of New York College of Technology at Canton

3.0%

Dutchess Community College

3.0%

Arizona State University

3.0%

Central Texas College

3.0%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

26.2%

Business

8.4%

General Studies

8.4%

Precision Metal Working

6.5%

Mechanical Engineering

5.6%

Criminal Justice

5.6%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

4.7%

Industrial Technology

4.7%

Electrical Engineering

4.7%

Psychology

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Fine Arts

2.8%

Insurance

2.8%

Apparel And Textiles

1.9%

English

1.9%

Management Science

1.9%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.9%

Graphic Design

1.9%

Pharmacy

1.9%
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Degrees

Other

42.7%

Associate

20.4%

Bachelors

14.6%

Certificate

14.0%

Diploma

7.6%

Masters

0.6%
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