Auto estimators inspect vehicles and provide estimates to make necessary repairs. They rely on their experience and knowledge in this field, and increasingly work with computer-aided diagnostic systems. Most acquire their skills through on-the-job training.
Automobile estimators provide estimates for damaged cars and light trucks for the amount of time, energy and materials it will take to repair the vehicle. They may help complete necessary repairs as well, since their work commonly intersects with that of automotive service technicians. It's common to acquire the skills to succeed at this career through on-the-job training, though individuals who complete further education are highly favorable to employers.
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification is available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||5% for all automotive service technicians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$37,850 for all automotive service technicians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Estimators typically work in car dealerships, independent repair shops or insurance agencies. Some technicians specialize in various areas, such as body repair, heating and air conditioning, engine repair or brakes. Technological advancements have greatly changed the landscape of specialization within the automotive industry as the trade propels through the 21st century.
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Many individuals enter the industry as trainees or assistants to veteran mechanics, working for many months until they acquire the skills to perform routine tasks independently. Professionals who excel in customer service and have years of auto repair experience are highly favored for this position.
Individuals interested in pursuing careers as automobile estimators may want to look into vocational programs in auto collision repair and refinishing. These 2-year programs are certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (www.natef.org) and are offered by many vocational schools throughout the country. Programs award an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Collision Technology upon completion.
Certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has become a standard in the industry. ASE certification requires at least two years of experience and an examination, with re-testing every five years to comply with industry advancements.
Skills and Other Requirements
Estimators must have the ability to compare many components within a case to determine the most efficient course of repair. Many automobile technicians work 40-hour weeks, while others adapt their schedules to meet customer demands by working nights and weekends.
Historically, technicians have relied heavily on knowledge and experience to complete repairs. Automobiles produced today are run off of highly specialized computer systems that technicians operate and monitor. This requires technical capabilities with electronic components and comprehension of manuals and diagnostic equipment. Successful professionals stay current with industry changes and technological advancements.
The responsibilities of an estimator fall under the scope of an automotive service technician. Typical duties include isolating and testing different systems within the automobile, test driving, traveling to other sites to inspect vehicles, communicating with customers about the nature of the damage and writing up descriptions and estimates of damage repair.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that automotive service technicians are expected to experience a 5% increase in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024. In May 2015, they earned a mean annual wage of $37,850 (www.bls.gov).
Auto estimators who have completed coursework or a degree are preferred by employers. Certification is available, but not always required. The demand for these jobs is about as fast as all jobs, and the mean annual salary was about $38,000 in 2015.