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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.