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How to Become a Collision Estimator: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a collision estimator. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career as a collision estimator. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 0:40 Career Requirements
  • 0:58 Steps to Become a…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Collision Estimator?

Collision estimators may also be referred to as automotive appraisers and are responsible for examining automotive insurance claims after an accident. After the collision occurs, estimators assess the condition of a vehicle and determine the amount covered by insurance. They also work to prevent any fraudulent claims. A large amount of work time might be spent in auto body shops.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a $64,020 median annual salary for auto damage insurance appraisers in May 2015.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Collision repair
Certification Optional certification from ASE
Key Skills Analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills
Salary (2015) $64,020 (median for auto damage insurance appraisers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Monster.com job postings (November 2012)

To become a collision estimator, you'll need an associate's degree in collision repair. Optional certification is also available from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). You should also possess a analytical, communication and interpersonal skills.

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Steps to Become a Collision Estimator

Let's find out what steps it takes to become a collision estimator.

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Many employers seek applicants with formal postsecondary education. A number of technical or community colleges offer 2-year associate's degrees in collision repair. Along with classes in general subjects such as mathematics, English or business writing, vocational topics include automobile structure, damage analysis and repairs, automotive electrical systems and estimating.

Obtain field experience.

An internship or on-the-job training provides individuals with initial experience in the field and prepares them for employment. During this time, individuals shadow an experienced collision estimator and prepare for full-time employment.

Step 2: Pursue Employment Opportunities

Collision estimators can find employment opportunities with auto body shops or with insurance companies. However, no matter where estimators find employment, they will perform similar duties. In order to pursue certification opportunities, estimators may need at least two years of experience in the field.

Step 3: Gain Certification

Collision estimators can increase their appeal to prospective employers by becoming certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Those interested in collision estimating can take an exam to earn certification for damage analysis and estimating. Certified estimators must re-certify every five years.

Look into I-CAR training.

Some employers may prefer estimators who have obtained Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) training. This organization offers three levels of courses that cover several topics in the field, including analyzing damage, understanding automotive refinishing and coordinating parts.

Step 4: Continue Training for Career Advancement

Additional and ongoing training allows collision estimators to increase their marketability. There are also opportunities for supervisory positions. Collision estimators with advanced training and education can move into insurance investigation, policy issuance or auto body repair management.

To become a collision estimator, you'll need an associate's degree and may consider certification to further your career.

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