Automobile Collision Repairers
Education and Training Requirements
Technology demands more from the collision repairer than it did 10 years ago. In addition to automotive and shop classes, high school students should take mathematics, English, and computer classes. Adjustments and repairs to many car components require numerous computations, for which good mathematics skills are essential. Reading comprehension skills will help a collision repairer understand complex repair manuals and trade journals that detail new technology. Oral communication skills are also important to help customers understand their options. In addition, computers are common in most collision repair shops. They keep track of customer histories and parts and often detail repair procedures. Use of computers in repair shops will only increase in the future, so students will benefit from a basic knowledge of them.
A wide variety of training programs are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, independent organizations, and manufacturers. As automotive technology changes, the materials and methods involved in repair work change. With new high-strength steels, aluminum, and plastics becoming ever more common in newer vehicles and posing new challenges in vehicle repair, repairers will need special training to detect the many hidden problems that occur beyond the impact spot. Postsecondary training programs provide students with the necessary, up-to-date skills needed for repairing today's vehicles. Many employers are now seeking technicians who have completed a formal postsecondary training program in automotive body repair or refinishing.
Although postsecondary training programs are considered the best way to enter the field, some repairers learn the trade on the job as apprentices. Their training consists of working for three to four years under the guidance of experienced repairers. Those who do learn their skills on the job will inevitably require some formal training if they wish to advance and stay in step with the changing industry.
Internship programs sponsored by car manufacturers or independent organizations provide students with excellent opportunities to actually work with prospective employers.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Collision repairers may be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Specialized certification is also provided by I-CAR and many vehicle manufacturers and paint manufacturers. Although certification is voluntary, it is a widely recognized standard of achievement for automobile collision repairers. Collision repairers who are certified are more valuable to their employers than those who are not and therefore stand a greater chance of advancement.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships and part-time jobs at auto collision repair shops.
Skill in handling both hand and power tools is essential for any repairer. Since each collision repair job is unique and presents a different challenge, repairers often must be resourceful in their method of repair. Other important traits include patience and good communication and interpersonal skills.
Automobile collision repairers are responsible for providing their own hand tools at an investment of approximately $6,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on the technician's specialty. It is the employer's responsibility to provide the larger power tools and other test equipment.