What Does an Auto Body Technician Do?
A skilled auto body technician can wipe away the visual reminder of a fender bender.
Technicians repair the bodies of motor vehicles, and they go by several names, including auto body mechanic, auto body specialist, auto body tech, body shop technician and collision repair technician.
They carry out a range of repairs, from hammering out minor dents to windshield replacement to complete rebuilds and paint jobs. When not repairing collision damage, technicians work on body customization or minor repairs, such as buffing out scratches or refurbishing corrosion damage.
Auto body technicians are needed in auto body repair shops at dealerships, independent repair centers or fleet workshops. Auto repair techs can also start their own businesses.
This is a job that puts you in direct contact with customers, so communication skills are important. If you are creative, detail-oriented and work well with others, this could be a good career for you. Keep reading to learn more.
- Work directly with customers to discuss what needs to be fixed
- Prepare damage reports and cost estimates
- Replace damaged body parts, including bumpers, fenders, hoods and trim
- Realign car frames and repair structural damage
- Pound out or patch dents and other minor body damage
- Fit, attach and weld replacement parts into place
- May also prep and paint vehicle surfaces
- Follow safety regulations
How To Become An Auto Body Technician: FAQs
What training do I need?
You will need at least a high school diploma or equivalent to become an entry-level auto body technician. Education requirements vary by employer. Most jobs require a technical school certificate, and some require an associate degree in automotive technology.
Trade and technical school programs combine classroom time on the basics of auto body repair with an internship that provides hands-on training. Some dealerships and independent businesses offer apprenticeships for entry-level auto body technicians who are paired with a mentor to learn the trade.
Students who take any of these paths must pass a series of exams to be certified to practice their trade.
Are there any additional qualifications?
Industry certification matters in this field. Certifications are available for various auto repair specialties through the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), which also certifies auto body shops. Certifications prove expertise, allow you to specialize and open the door for advancement. Most are renewed every five years.
You’ll also need a valid driver’s license.
How long does it take to become an auto body technician?
A certificate typically takes a year. An associate degree from a community college or technical school takes two years. Other combinations of education and experience may vary. For example, an entry-level auto body technician could start working right away through an apprenticeship and work his or her way up to certification.
What is it like to do this job?
Brandon McCoy offered his take on the job above, and here’s a video from an auto body tech in Alberta, Canada, that covers different aspects. (Some of her descriptions are specific to that province, but many are universal.)
Is there a demand for auto body specialists?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predict 6% job growth, with about 17,500 openings each year from now until 2030.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful auto body techs tend to share these traits:
- Dexterity to work with small parts and in small spaces
- Enjoy working with a wide range of tools and equipment
- Good at interacting with customers
- Good attention to detail
- Basic math skills
- Good time-management skills
- Physically fit