Students who want to enter autobody technician programs should not be afraid
"So much of our equipment is now computer-based, whether it is some
of our measuring equipment, or wheel alignment machines, or paint mixing machines,"
says Chris Burns. He is the chair of a collision repair department. "Everything
is computerized now."
Many autobody technician programs are about one year long -- some may
be longer. They generally lead to a diploma or certificate.
Portland Community College, for instance, offers a one-year certificate,
a two-year certificate and an associate of applied science degree in auto
The entrance requirement for most programs is a high school diploma.
Recommended classes include basic math, physics and English. And you
should like to work with your hands, of course, preferably on cars.
"The students who have mechanical experience are great," says Steve White.
He is the director of the collision repair program at Portland Community College.
"They know how to get down to the parts that they need to fix. They are
not afraid to take something apart and put it back together. They understand
just how to use wrenches and tools safely and correctly."
But the collision repair trade is different than the automotive trade.
"Taking a car apart and putting it back together is one thing," says White.
"Trying to do any structural or body repair stuff is very different."
Burns says no two auto collision repair jobs are ever the same. And the students
who do the best are those who solve problems creatively, he says.
Students who want to succeed must also be able to work independently, manage
their time well and have high quality standards, adds White. Communication
skills are also important.
Many programs allow students to work part time or help them arrange apprenticeships.
Besides paying for tuition, students in the program must also buy their
own tools. White says the average total cost of the tools that students
need ranges from $1,200 to $1,500. But book costs are very low, he adds.
Not all programs are created equal. Do some research beforehand.
Check out the school and ask instructors some pointed questions about standards,
equipment and placement rates.
You should also ask whether the National Institute for Automotive Service
Excellence (ASE) has certified the school.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Automotive
News and information on the collision repair industry
I-CAR Education Foundation
They are working to improve educational standards throughout
the auto collision repair industry
NACE: The International Autobody Congress & Exposition
An event created and designed for the collision repair industry