Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Summary

automotive body and glass repairers image
Automotive body and glass repairers restore and replace automobile frames.
Quick Facts: Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
2012 Median Pay $37,680 per year
$18.12 per hour
Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 172,200
Job Outlook, 2012-22 13% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 22,900

What Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Do

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

Work Environment

Repair technicians work indoors in body shops, which are often noisy. Most shops are well ventilated to disperse dust and paint fumes. Repair technicians sometimes work in awkward and cramped positions, and their work can be physically demanding. Automotive glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location to repair damaged windshields and window glass.

How to Become an Automotive Body or Glass Repairer

Most employers prefer to hire repairers who have completed a formal training program in automotive body repair or refinishing. Still, many new repairers begin work without formal training. Industry certification is becoming increasingly important.

Pay

In May 2012, the median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $38,380. The median annual wage for automotive glass installers and repairers was $32,650 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of automotive body and glass repairers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be very good for jobseekers with industry certification and formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing and in collision repair.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of automotive body and glass repairers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about automotive body and glass repairers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Do

automotive body and glass repairers image
Automotive body and glass repairers inspect car frames for structural damage.

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

Duties

Automotive body and glass repairers typically do the following:

  • Review damage reports, prepare cost estimates, and plan work
  • Inspect cars for structural damage
  • Remove damaged body parts, including bumpers, fenders, hoods, grilles, and trim
  • Realign car frames and chassis to repair structural damage
  • Hammer out or patch dents, dimples, and other minor body damage
  • Fit, attach, and weld replacement parts into place
  • Install, repair, and weatherproof windows and windshields
  • Grind, sand, buff, and prime refurbished and repaired surfaces
  • Apply new finish to restored body parts

Automotive body and glass repairers can repair most damage from vehicle collisions and make vehicles look and drive like new. Damage may be minor, such as replacing a cracked windshield, or major, such as replacing an entire door panel. After a major collision, the underlying frame of a car can become bent out of shape. Repairers restore the structural integrity of car frames back to manufacturer specifications.

Repair technicians use many tools for their work. To remove damaged parts, such as bumpers and door panels, they use pneumatic tools, metal-cutting guns, and plasma cutters. For major structural repairs, such as aligning the body, they often use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks and hammers. For some work, they use common hand tools, such as metal files, pliers, wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers.

In some cases, repair technicians do an entire job by themselves. In other cases, especially in large shops, they use an assembly line approach in which they work as a team with each repair technician specializing.

Although repair technicians sometimes prime and paint repaired parts, painting and coating workers generally perform these tasks.

The following are occupational specialties: 

Automotive body and related repairers, or collision repair technicians, straighten metal panels, remove dents, and replace parts that cannot be fixed. Although they repair all types of vehicles, most work primarily on cars, sport utility vehicles, and small trucks. 

Automotive glass installers and repairers remove, repair, and replace broken, cracked, or pitted windshields and window glass. They also weatherproof newly installed windows and windshields with chemical treatments.

Work Environment

Automotive body and glass repairers
Automotive body repairers often remove paint from a car frame.

Automotive body and glass repairers held about 172,200 jobs in 2012. About 65 percent worked in automotive repair and maintenance shops, 16 percent worked for automobile dealers, and another 12 percent were self-employed.

Collision repair technicians typically work indoors in body shops, which are often noisy. Most shops are well ventilated to disperse dust and paint fumes. Repair technicians sometimes work in awkward and cramped positions, and their work can be physically demanding. Automotive glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location to repair damaged windshields and window glass.

Injuries and Illnesses

Automotive body and related repairers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Technicians commonly suffer minor injuries, such as cuts, burns, and scrapes. Following safety procedures, helps to avoid serious accidents.

Work Schedules

Most repair technicians work full time. When shops have to complete a backlog of work, overtime is common. This often includes repair technicians working evenings and weekends.

How to Become an Automotive Body or Glass Repairer

automotive body and glass repairers image
Automotive glass repairers replace broken windshields and window glass.

Most employers prefer to hire repair technicians who have completed a formal training program in automotive body repair or refinishing. Still, many new repair technicians begin work without formal training. Industry certification is increasingly important.

Education

High school, trade and technical school, and community college programs in collision repair combine hands-on practice and classroom instruction. Topics usually include electronics, physics, and mathematics, which provide a strong educational foundation for a career as a repair technician. Although not required, postsecondary education often provides the best preparation.

Trade and technical school programs typically award certificates after 6 months to 1 year of study. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in collision repair. Many of these schools also offer certificates for individual courses, so students can take classes part time or as needed.

To keep up with rapidly changing automotive technology, repair technicians need to continue their education and training throughout their careers. Repair technicians are expected to develop their skills by reading technical manuals and by attending classes and seminars. Many employers regularly send workers to advanced training programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification is recommended because it shows competence and usually brings higher pay. In some instances, however, it is required for advancement beyond entry-level work.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is a standard credential for repair technicians. Many repair technicians get further certification through the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair.

In addition, many vehicle and paint manufacturers have product certification programs that train repair technicians in specific technologies and repair methods.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Repair technicians must be able to evaluate vehicle damage and determine necessary repair strategies for each vehicle they work on. In some cases, they must decide if a vehicle is “totaled,” or too damaged to justify the cost of repair.

Customer-service skills. Repair technicians must discuss auto body and glass problems, along with options to fix them, with customers. Because self-employed workers depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Repair technicians must pay close attention to detail. Restoring a damaged auto body to its original state requires workers to have a keen eye for even the smallest imperfection. 

Dexterity. Many repair technicians’ tasks, such as removing door panels, hammering out dents, and using hand tools to install parts, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Repair technicians must know which diagnostic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and other power equipment and tools are appropriate for certain procedures and repairs. They must be skilled with techniques and methods necessary to repair modern automobiles.

Time-management skills. Repair technicians must be timely in their repairs. For many people, their automobile is their primary mode of transportation.              

Training

New workers typically begin their on-the-job training by helping an experienced repair technician with basic tasks. As they gain experience, they move on to more complex work. Some workers may become trained in as little as a 1 year, but generally, workers may need 2 years of hands-on training to become fully certified repair technicians. 

Basic automotive glass installation and repair can be learned in as little as 6 months, but becoming fully qualified can take up to 1 year.

Formally educated workers often require significantly less on-the-job training and typically advance to independent work more quickly than those who do not have the same level of education.

Pay

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Automotive body and related repairers

$38,380

Automotive body and glass repairers

$37,680

Total, all occupations

$34,750

Automotive glass installers and repairers

$32,650

 

The median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $38,380 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,530, and the top 10 percent earned more than $65,390.

The median annual wage for automotive glass installers and repairers was $32,650 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,590, and the top 10 percent earned more than $47,730.

The majority of repair shops and auto dealers pay repair technicians on an incentive basis. In addition to receiving a guaranteed base salary, employers pay workers a set amount for completing various tasks. Their earnings depend on both the amount of work assigned and how fast they complete it.

Trainees typically earn between 30 percent and 60 percent of skilled workers’ pay. They are paid by the hour until they are competent enough to be paid on an incentive basis.

Most repair technicians work full time. When shops have to complete a backlog of work, overtime is common. This often includes repair technicians working evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Automotive glass installers and repairers

14%

Automotive body and glass repairers

13%

Automotive body and related repairers

13%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of automotive body and glass repairers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The growing number of vehicles in use should increase overall demand for collision repair services during the next decade. In some cases, demand may fluctuate throughout the year due to the seasonality of inclement weather in some regions. For example, the need for repair may be greater during the winter months in areas with snow and ice, because this may increase the chance of accidents. However, overall job growth will be limited because new repair technology allows fewer workers to do more work.

The increasing safety features in cars are likely to reduce demand for automotive body and glass repair work. For example, sensor technology, such as back up and parking assist, may decrease collisions. This, in turn, may lessen the need for replacing car bumpers that might otherwise have been damaged in a collision.

In addition, advances in automotive technology have raised the prices of new and replacement parts. This increases the likelihood that a damaged car is declared "totaled"—where repairing the car costs more than its overall value. This scenario will also likely reduce demand for repair work.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are projected to be very good for jobseekers with industry certification and formal training in automotive body repair and refinishing and in collision repair. Those without any training or experience will face strong competition for jobs.

The need to replace experienced repair technicians who retire, change occupations, or stop working for other reasons also will provide some job opportunities.

Employment projections data for Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Automotive body and glass repairers

172,200 195,100 13 22,900

Automotive body and related repairers

49-3021 154,200 174,700 13 20,400 [XLS]

Automotive glass installers and repairers

49-3022 18,000 20,500 14 2,400 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of automotive body and glass repairers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,610
Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, or overhaul buses, trucks, and anything else with a diesel engine.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,320
Glaziers

Glaziers

Glaziers install windows, skylights, and other glass products in storefronts and buildings.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,610
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries.

High school diploma or equivalent $43,820
Painting and coating workers

Painting and Coating Workers

Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics.

See How to Become One $32,850
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Automotive Body and Glass Repairers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm (visited July 31, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014