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Auto Body Painter: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Auto body painters require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and skill requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Auto body painters prepare vehicles to be painted and apply paint coats for touch-up repairs or just to satisfy a customer's desire to change the car's color! An apprenticeship or vocational course in auto body painting or painting technology can provide the experience and prowess they need.

Essential Information

Auto body painters make cosmetic repairs to vehicles and repaint them, often after collisions. Most auto body painter positions don't require a specific level of education beyond high school; however, formal training in the field is available and is becoming more commonly required. Auto body painters must know how to maintain and operate the equipment they use and may need some skills in auto body repair. In some facilities, they will need to learn skills required for creating specialized paint finishes.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; certificate or associate's degree programs available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for painters of transportation equipment
Mean Salary (2015)* $44,920 for painters of transportation equipment

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for an Auto Body Painter

Auto body painters must communicate with clients, employers and other employees to plan and execute repair and painting jobs on a variety of vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses. Depending on their employers, auto body painters may be required to have knowledge of specialty painting techniques. Some auto body painters may need collision repair capabilities as well.

Job Duties of an Auto Body Painter

In preparation for a painting project, auto body painters remove rust and other debris from surfaces to be painted, fill cavities and dents in vehicles to create an even surface, mask or tape off details and components to avoid contamination and select the proper colors and substances for the project. The painting process itself involves using paint sprayers and brushes to apply paint to a vehicle, determining the necessary application of paint for a thorough coat and checking for runs or sags in the paint to ensure a quality product.

Auto Body Painter Education and Career Requirements

Most employers require that candidates for auto body painter positions have a minimum of a high school diploma. Aspiring auto body painters also might need a valid driver's license, a clean driving record, and the ability to drive vehicles with both manual and automatic transmissions. Additionally, some jobs require previous experience in auto body painting.

Prospective auto body painters who lack this experience might consider completing a certificate or associate's degree program in auto body and paint technology through a technical school or community college. These programs teach students about all facets of auto body painting through lecture and lab courses on topics like paint preparation, spot and panel refinishing, custom finishes, safety practices and detailing procedures. Auto body and paint technology students also typically complete classes in communications, business ethics, general mathematics, geometry and computer science.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Transportation equipment painters are expected to see job growth of 6% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about average job growth for all professions. The BLS reports that most new positions will be in auto body repair facilities. These painters earned a mean wage of $44,920 in May 2015. Painters in automobile repair and maintenance facilities had a mean wage of $45,420 at that time, while those employed by automobile dealerships earned $47,940.

The auto body painter arranges paint jobs for cars, proceeding to give them color by brush or spray, depending on the car and client request. Auto body painters may hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and learn their craft through on-the-job experience or by completing a relevant degree program for certification. Certification is increasingly desired by employers.

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