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Become An Auto Body Technician

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Working As An Auto Body Technician

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Stressful

  • $42,163

    Average Salary

What Does An Auto Body Technician Do

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Duties

Automotive service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Identify problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
  • Plan work procedures, using charts, technical manuals, and experience
  • Test parts and systems to ensure that they work properly
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
  • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads, wheel bearings, and sensors
  • Perform repairs to manufacturer and customer specifications
  • Explain automotive problems and repairs to clients

Although service technicians work on traditional mechanical systems, such as engines, transmissions, and drivebelts, they must also be familiar with a growing number of electronic systems. Braking, transmission, and steering systems, for example, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components.

Other integrated electronic systems, such as accident-avoidance sensors, are becoming common as well. In addition, a growing number of technicians are required to work on vehicles that consume alternative fuels, such as ethanol and electricity.

Service technicians use many different tools, including computerized diagnostic tools and power tools such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, welding torches, and jacks and hoists. These tools usually are owned by their employers.

Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.

The following are examples of types of service technicians:

Automotive air-conditioning technicians install and repair air-conditioners and parts, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. These workers must be trained and certified in handling refrigerants.

Brake technicians diagnose brake system problems, adjust brakes, replace brake rotors and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems. Some technicians specialize in both brake and front-end work. (See “Front-end technicians.”) 

Drivability technicians, also known as diagnostic technicians, use their extensive knowledge of engine management and fuel, electrical, ignition, and emissions systems to diagnose issues that prevent engines from performing efficiently. They often use the onboard diagnostic system of a car and electronic testing equipment such as scan tools and multimeters to find the malfunction.

Front-end technicians diagnose ride, handling, and tire wear problems. To correct these problems, they frequently use special alignment equipment and wheel-balancing machines.

Transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. An extensive knowledge of computer controls and the ability to diagnose electrical and hydraulic problems are needed to work on these complex components.

For information about technicians who work on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians who work on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

For information about technicians who repair and service motorcycles, motorboats, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

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How To Become An Auto Body Technician

Employers prefer that automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a formal training program at a postsecondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Education

High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, computers, and mathematics provide a good background for prospective service technicians. However, high school graduates typically need further training to become fully qualified.

Completing a vocational or other postsecondary education program in automotive service technology is considered the best preparation for entry-level positions. Programs usually last 6 months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Short-term certificate programs in a particular subject, such as brake maintenance or engine performance, are also available.

Some service technicians get an associate’s degree. Courses usually include mathematics, electronics, and automotive repair. Some programs add classes in customer service and other necessary skills.

Various automobile manufacturers and dealers sponsor associate’s degree programs. Students in these programs typically spend alternating periods attending classes full time and working full time in service shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

Training

Service technicians who have graduated from postsecondary programs in automotive service technology generally require little on-the-job training.

Those who have not completed postsecondary education, however, generally start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers, or lubrication workers. They gradually acquire more knowledge and experience by working with experienced mechanics and technicians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. No formal test preparation is required, but many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed for the EPA exam.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for service technicians. Certification demonstrates competence and usually brings higher pay. Many employers require their service technicians to become certified.

ASE certification is available in nine different automobile specialty areas: automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, light vehicle diesel engines, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air-conditioning, manual drive train and axles, and suspension and steering.

To become certified, technicians must have at least 2 years of experience (or relevant schooling and 1 year of experience) and pass an exam. Technicians who achieve certification in all of the foregoing areas (light vehicle diesel engine certification is not required) may earn ASE Master Technician status.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Service technicians must discuss automotive problems—along with options to fix them—with their customers. Because workers may depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Service technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing vehicle systems, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments or other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Service technicians perform many tasks that require steady hands and good hand-eye coordination, such as assembling or attaching components and subassemblies.

Mechanical skills. Service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often must take apart major parts for repairs and be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Service technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability of parts.

Physical strength. Service technicians must sometimes lift and maneuver heavy parts such as engines and body panels.

Troubleshooting skills. Service technicians must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

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Auto Body Technician Videos

Auto Body Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

A Day in the Life" of a Panel or Paint Technician"

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Auto Body Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

94.0%

Female

5.2%

Unknown

0.8%
Ethnicity

White

65.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

9.6%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

68.3%

Portuguese

7.3%

German

4.9%

Russian

4.9%

Dakota

4.9%

Ukrainian

2.4%

French

2.4%

Cherokee

2.4%

Carrier

2.4%
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Auto Body Technician Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

11.7%

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Hennepin Technical College

6.2%

Dakota County Technical College

6.2%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

5.5%

Northern Maine Community College

4.8%

Hudson Valley Community College

4.8%

Kaplan University

4.8%

South Central College

4.8%

WyoTech - Laramie

4.8%

Fox Valley Technical College

4.1%

Lincoln College of Technology - Indianapolis

4.1%

Grand Rapids Community College

3.4%

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

3.4%

Ferris State University

3.4%

Kirkwood Community College

3.4%

Ohio Technical College

3.4%

Texarkana College

3.4%

Greenville Technical College

3.4%

Hillsborough Community College

3.4%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

36.6%

Business

13.5%

Fine Arts

6.5%

Precision Metal Working

6.2%

General Studies

5.8%

Criminal Justice

3.4%

Education

3.0%

Computer Science

2.8%

Electrical Engineering

2.5%

Drafting And Design

2.3%

Mechanical Engineering

2.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.1%

Apparel And Textiles

2.0%

Industrial Technology

1.8%

Management

1.8%

Graphic Design

1.8%

Computer Networking

1.5%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.4%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.4%

Liberal Arts

1.3%
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Degrees

Other

48.6%

Associate

19.5%

Certificate

14.0%

Bachelors

10.5%

Diploma

5.7%

Masters

1.3%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Auto Body Technician Videos

Auto Body Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

A Day in the Life" of a Panel or Paint Technician"

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Real Auto Body Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Auto Body Technician King St. Collision Silver Spring, MD Apr 14, 2008 $55,723
Auto Body Repair Technician Canton Auto Body Inc. Canton, MA Oct 06, 2016 $52,021
Auto Body Technician Unique Auto Body Inc. Midvale, UT Mar 28, 2011 $47,479 -
$49,045
Auto Body Tech Ben Clymer's The Body Shop Riverside, CA Sep 11, 2015 $46,738
Auto Body Repair Technician Yocom Body Shop, Inc. Hope, AR Sep 04, 2015 $46,634
Auto Body Technician Unique Auto Body Inc. Midvale, UT Mar 09, 2009 $43,827 -
$48,001
Auto Body Repair Technician George & Ken's Collision LLC MA Nov 01, 2013 $41,740
Auto Body Technician City Transport MGMT .Inc. NY Oct 27, 2015 $41,600
Auto Body Technician Carlos Paint & Body Shop TX Aug 05, 2013 $40,801
Auto Body Technician Richmond View Auto Collision, Inc. New York, NY Mar 02, 2010 $40,655
Auto Body Tech Ben Clymer's The Body Shop Riverside, CA Apr 21, 2011 $38,709
Auto Body Tech Ben Clymer's The Body Shop Riverside, CA Dec 08, 2011 $38,709

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Top Skills for An Auto Body Technician

  1. Auto
  2. Vehicle Bodies
  3. Install Replacement Parts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed collision repairs on military equipment using auto collision repair tools.
  • Cut openings in vehicle bodies for the installation of customized windows, using templates and power shears or chisels.
  • Remove damaged sections of vehicles using metal-cutting guns, air grinders and wrenches, and install replacement parts.
  • Manage work flow in the body shop, write preliminary supplements, auto body repair, continuing I-Car education.
  • Washed Vehicles for customers * Sanded parts down to be painted * Did Miscellaneous Duties * Got vehicles ready for paint

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Top 10 Best States for Auto Body Technicians

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. Connecticut
  4. Alaska
  5. New Jersey
  6. New Hampshire
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Colorado
  9. Washington
  10. Nevada
  • (74 jobs)
  • (170 jobs)
  • (402 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)
  • (888 jobs)
  • (228 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (687 jobs)
  • (657 jobs)
  • (198 jobs)

Top Auto Body Technician Employers

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Jobs From Top Auto Body Technician Employers

Auto Body Technician Videos

Auto Body Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

A Day in the Life" of a Panel or Paint Technician"

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