Autobody and collision repair workers are responsible for fixing the body of vehicles that have been damaged in collisions. Most autobody and collision repair workers are employed at auto body shops, automobile dealerships, or at manufacturing plants. Some may work for trucking companies or bus lines that hire in-house auto body repairers.
Expectations and responsibilities of a repair specialist
Autobody and collision repair specialists can have many job expectations — or just a few if they specialize in a particular type of repair such as alignment or paint. While job expectations do vary depending on the professional’s position and specialty, generally it is the shop’s supervisor who communicates with the customer, decides what parts are to be ordered and replaced, and who estimates the cost of the repair. Then the job is handed off to the repairer.
The autobody repair specialist has the job of removing and replacing damaged body sections and to straighten the frame of the vehicle if it has been bent. Sections that are severely dented and are to be repaired, versus replaced, must be popped out with pry bars. Smaller dents must be smoothed out by using an anvil and a hammer, and if needed, they may be filled with solder. When the solder hardens it can be sanded smooth. Autobody and collision repairers may take the necessary steps to prep the auto for painting, or the vehicle may be handed off to a paint specialist.
The demand for autobody and collision repair professionals continues to rise and professional autobody specialists may make anywhere from $10 – $25 an hour, depending on their specialty, where they work, and the area where they work.
There are many ways that autobody and collision repair professionals receive their pay. Some businesses pay their autobody professionals a flat rate per job – and the flat rate will vary from job to job. Some autobody professionals may get paid at an hourly rate, others may earn a set salary per week, and others may work on commission. This means they receive a percentage of the labor rate that is charged to each customer for repairing their damaged auto. Some autobody professionals own their own shops and they may determine their own pay. In fact, reports show that roughly 15 percent of collision repair mechanics are self-employed. This is double the number of self-employed individuals who work in other repair and maintenance careers.
Career and employment outlook for repair specialists
In addition to salaries varying, career benefits for collision repair mechanics also vary from business to business. Most reports show that professional collision mechanics generally have access to health insurance, paid leave, and retirement assistance at most major autobody repair shops – regardless of location – and most all automotive dealerships offer these types of incentives to their employees.
Employment for collision repair mechanics is expected to by grow six percent through 2026. In addition to careers opening up because of retirees, there is expected to be an increase in the number of autos traveling the roadways. Mechanics with hands-on formal collision repair training may stand out in the applicant pool when pursuing job opportunities in their field.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm