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Collision Repair Jobs: Opportunities & Outlook

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If you’re a car enthusiast, love working with your hands and have an eye for detail, a career as a collision repair technician may be perfect for you.

Due to exciting advancements in technology, the field is continuing to evolve. However, the need for technicians remains. In fact, as the field grows, opportunities for skilled technicians are becoming abundant.

Keep reading to learn all about what a collision repair technician does, the types of projects they work on, job opportunities and more.

Collision Repair Career Info

If this is a career path you’re considering, you might be wondering, “What does a collision repair technician do?”

Collision repair technicians (also known as auto body technicians) repair collision damaged vehicles utilizing proper repair procedures, parts and paint. Accidents happen on the roadways every day, and trained technicians are needed to fix the damage. A collision repair technician’s job is to repair these vehicles so they look and drive like new.

Every accident is different, which means the damage technicians come across always presents a new set of challenges. For this reason, it’s important for collision repair technicians to be trained and well-versed in different repair techniques required to fix whatever jobs may come their way.

Collision Repair Technician Job Duties

  • Inspect vehicles for damages
  • Review damage reports, estimate damage costs and plan work
  • Remove and replace damaged parts
  • Realign car frames to repair structural damage
  • Weld parts into place
  • Prime, sand, buff and grind repaired surfaces
  • Apply new finishes to restored parts

Collision Repair Jobs

Training in collision repair can prepare you for multiple career paths. Depending on your interests, you can customize your career to pursue something you’re passionate about. Some potential auto body collision repair technician jobs include:

Non-Structural Technician

Non-structural technicians restore damaged exterior panels to their original appearance, integrity and function. Using hand tools and power tools, these technicians remove and repair damaged parts, install new parts and weld when needed. They work with glass, metals and plastics, and electrical and mechanical parts.

Steel Structural Technician

These technicians restore vehicle dimensions and structural integrity to collision-damaged vehicles. Using three-dimensional measuring and straightening equipment, steel structural technicians diagnose and return damaged frames and parts to manufacturer’s specifications. To succeed in this role, you must be able to use hand tools and power tools to remove or repair damaged parts, weld when necessary and install new parts.

Refinish Technician

The role of a refinish technician is to prepare and apply paint to repaired vehicles so their appearance is restored to pre-accident condition. This process often includes final sanding, color mixing and tinting, sanding, spray booth operations, and applying primers, sealers and clear coats. They may need to blend the color into adjacent panels for a better color match to the existing vehicle’s color.

Aluminum Structural Technician

Aluminum structural technicians restore aluminum structural dimensions and structural integrity to collision damaged vehicles. Using measuring and frame equipment, they diagnose damage and return damaged frames or unibody parts to meet manufacturer specifications. They use hand tools and power tools to remove and repair damaged parts, install new parts and weld when needed.

Estimator

Estimators play a critical role in the auto body repair process. They inspect, analyze and evaluate damaged vehicles to create an accurate, complete damage report. Building relationships with vehicle owners, repairers and insurance personnel, they negotiate costs and close customer sales. They are often tech-savvy, as they use computer software to write estimates.

Auto Physical Damage Appraiser

These technicians inspect, analyze and evaluate damaged vehicles to create complete, accurate damage reports. They often travel to a vehicle’s location, which often includes tow facilities, repair facilities, dealerships, and customer homes and offices.

Auto physical damage appraisers are responsible for documenting every aspect of claims investigation and processing. They follow company claims processes to achieve a fair and accurate settlement, customer satisfaction, and cost management.

Electrical/Mechanical Technician

Electrical/mechanical technicians diagnose and repair collision-related mechanical damage, including steering, suspension, air conditioning, engine and brakes. Using measurement and alignment equipment, they diagnose damage and return front and rear wheel alignments to manufacturer’s specifications.

Production Manager

The role of production management is to make the repair process as seamless as possible from start to finish. A production manager oversees the process and staff to ensure technicians are performing safe and efficient repairs and that the customer feels valued.

Where Collision Repair Technicians Work

Depending on their role, auto body technicians work in different environments. Many work in body repair shops of franchised dealerships, independent repair centers and fleet workshops. These types of environments are typically fast-paced, which means having the ability to manage your time well is essential.

Collision repair technicians often work directly with their clients, which makes having great communication and customer service skills a must. Customers look to technicians to explain the problems and provide solutions, so it’s important for them to be patient, great listeners and available to answer any questions.

How Much Do Collision Repair Technicians Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for automotive body and related repairers was $42,730 in May 2018.25

When it comes to advancing in the field, many shops want to promote from within. Having additional skills and education can give you an advantage and open doors to exciting opportunities. 

As the complexity of vehicle design increases, so will the need for technicians trained on the latest tools and technology. By investing in yourself through training and keeping up with the industry as it changes, you may be able to qualify for a higher wage.

What Is The Job Outlook For Collision Repair Technicians?

As the complexity of vehicle design increases, so will the need for technicians trained on the latest tools and technology. Having additional skills and education can open doors to exciting job opportunities and help give you an advantage. When it comes to advancing in the field, many shops want to promote from within.

How Do I Become a Collision Repair Technician?

The role of a collision repair technician is complex. These professionals must have a particular set of skills, which requires the completion of a training program that will expose them to the types of scenarios they’ll experience in the field.

Certification is an important element in preparing for a career in collision repair. Receiving specialized education from a collision repair technician school like Universal Technical Institute (UTI) is often a requirement for becoming an auto body repair technician.1 Having certifications will prepare you to perform your job well, which can make you a strong candidate when applying for jobs.

Due to UTI’s relationship with I-CAR, the provider of collision repair training standards as defined by the industry, students can receive valuable auto body repair certifications that can help them pursue careers after they complete their training. Graduates earn recognition of their high level of training as I-CAR ProLevel individuals and receive I-CAR certificates for:

  • Non-Structural Technician Level 1
  • Steel Structural Technician Level 1
  • Aluminum Structural Technician Level 1
  • Estimating Level 1
  • Refinish Technician Level 2

Graduates who achieve the Axalta Refinish Certification receive Refinish Technician Level 3 status to become Platinum individuals. Additional industry certifications include Axalta Cromax Pro Certified Refinisher Safety & Pollution Prevention (S/P2), 3M Plastics and Composite Repair Systems, Chief Velocity Certification, EPA 609 A/C Certification and Lean Efficiency Certificate.

Overall, the collision repair industry is full of exciting opportunities for those who have a passion for cars and are looking to start a new career!

Want to Learn More About the Collision Technology Program?

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