Career Definition for an Auto Body Mechanic
Auto body mechanics, also called collision repair technicians, can repair all vehicles but primarily work on cars and small trucks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They may work alone, on a team or under supervision. Auto body mechanics apply broad auto-construction knowledge to examine damage, order parts, realign damaged frames, fix uni-body vehicles and use various tools to repair broken, dented or pitted metal. On plastic bodies, they use hot-air-welding guns and hot-water immersion techniques to soften and repair material.
|Required Education||Trade or technical school program in collision repair|
|Job Skills||Customer service, detail oriented, dexterity, time management skills|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$41,970 (all automotive body and related repairers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||9% (all automotive body and related repairers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The completion of a training program is typically required to secure a position in the auto body field. It is possible to get an entry-level job in the field with a GED or high school diploma, but auto body mechanics usually need both formal and on-the-job training. Some trade and technical schools offer 6-month training in collision repair; community and junior colleges also offer associate's degree programs in the specialty, where students can take classes in basic body and frame repair, panel repair and replacement.
Certification is not required to become an auto body mechanic, but it may be recommended in order to be eligible for supervisory positions. To become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), mechanics need to pass a test and show two years of work experience in the field. The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair offers secondary certification.
O*Net Online reported that required skills for auto body mechanics include:
- Ability to troubleshoot and perform complex problem solving
- Reading comprehension and time management skills
- Math and computer knowledge to use and understand manuals
- Excellent manual dexterity
- Customer-service skills when interacting with clients
Employment and Salary Outlook
Job opportunities in this field, according to the BLS, are expected to be about average in the coming years as retiring auto body workers are replaced. The BLS reported job growth for automotive body and related repairers as 9% between 2016 and 2026. For automotive body and related repairers, median annual earnings were reported as $41,970 in May 2017. Many repair shops have an incentive program for their body repair technicians, based on particular tasks completed. Therefore, earnings can vary greatly depending on a technician's efficiency and ability to complete many tasks in a particular amount of time. The majority of auto body mechanics work full time, but overtime opportunities may be available depending on the amount of backlogged work needed in the shop.