Since they are associate-level degree programs, autobody repair programs usually take two years to complete. Short-term certificate programs, consisting of 3-8 courses, are available as well, and they usually focus solely on a student's specialty area. Graduates of certificate and associate degree programs may also take certification exams. The most popular certifications in this field are awarded by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Most ASE certification exams require applicants to have 1-2 years of work experience, though formal education can be used in lieu of real-world experience in some cases. While enrolled, students can specialize in a number of areas, including auto body, refinishing, structural repair, non-structural repair, and painting.
Autobody Repair Degree
In an autobody degree program, laboratory practice typically outweighs lecture by as much as four to one. Because programs are vocational, they are almost always based on competency. This means that students take tests that require them to perform skills in settings that emulate real-world work environments. Most courses include between three and four hours of lab time for every hour of lecture time. Classes also vary according to specialty. In addition to welding and metal repair, here are a few classes common to most programs:
- Rust repair
- Structural analysis
- Collision repair
- Paint preparation
Graduates of autobody repair programs can work as repair technicians, glass installation technicians, welders, metal fabricators, or paint technicians. Custom painter, aftermarket part researcher, and insurance damage appraiser are some of the other available job titles. Experienced professionals can go on to own or manage repair shops.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed an average 2015 yearly wage of $44,590 for autobody and related repairers. The BLS also noted that autobody and glass repairer jobs were predicted to increase 9% from 2014-2024.
Certificate and associate's degree programs in this field exist to teach students the skills needed to be autobody repairmen, with specializations in a number of areas to improve their technique with different aspects of repair.