The Ultimate Guide to Landing Auto Body Jobs

Auto body jobs make great careers because they provide variety in day-to-day work; job stability since accidents are common; and a sense of satisfaction when a vehicle is restored and back on the road.

So how can you land these coveted auto body careers? See the six tips below to get started.

1. Be passionate and stay curious.

Landing automotive body careers starts with an inherent passion for cars. Your interest will drive you to study, work hard and pursue your dream career. Having a natural curiosity for learning restoration techniques will put you ahead of your peers and help you stand out as a strong job candidate.

2. Earn your automotive education.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to earn your credentials. Pursuing an auto degree serves many purposes because it:
• Teaches you foundational knowledge for performing mechanical and electrical repairs.
• Builds your network of peers and mentors.
• Exposes you directly to companies hiring now.
• Gives you professional certification, which helps you get hired.
Earning your degree is the most helpful step on your path to landing auto body careers, and you can graduate and start working in as little as two years. Dedicated students often find automotive body jobs while still in school, giving them real-world experience upon graduation.

3. Connect with mentors in the industry.

Connecting with mentors is often cited as the most beneficial decision when searching for a job. The auto industry is a tight-knit community, so make as many friends as you can because there’s a good chance that word-of-mouth will get you hired.

Another benefit of having a mentor is the support you’ll have to advance your collision repair knowledge. The most successful people in auto body jobs have had a great mentor who took them under their wing to teach everything they know.

4. Get an internship.

Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and gain professional experience. In addition to building your knowledge, internships help you decide if your career choice is the right decision for you. You may find out you love working with people and don’t care for the hands-on side of auto body jobs. This is great to know before you get too far down your career path so you can make adjustments in your education.

5. Understand you have to start somewhere.

The reality is you likely won’t land your dream auto body job right after graduating. Oftentimes you’ll need to do the grunt work and prove your knowledge before you move up the career ladder. Industry professionals advise to keep this in mind and put in the time needed to show you’re serious about advancement.

6. Demonstrate your dedication to expanding your knowledge.

The only constant in the auto industry is change. That means you need to adapt and keep up with trends along with the industry. Professionals who advance their auto body careers are constantly learning the latest techniques and materials to restore vehicles so they can take on bigger challenges. Plus, the more you know, the higher your paycheck will be.

 

Auto Career Paths

pointer

Auto Service Tech:

Diagnose, repair and perform preventative maintenance on cars and light trucks. Virtually every system on today’s vehicles is electronically controlled by computers, and auto techs use sophisticated diagnostic tools to improve engine performance and repair transmissions, steering and suspension, brake, electrical and heating and air conditioning systems. There is a high demand for well-trained technicians.

Salary: $39,600 median salary1

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Service Techs:

  • Love for hands-on work
  • Drive to take on a challenge and solve problems
  • Motivation to learn and adapt to ever-changing technology
  • Attention to detail when working on cars

Collision Tech:

Use specialized tools, materials and techniques to straighten or replace damaged body panels and structural components as well as perform related mechanical and electrical repairs, restraint system repairs and stationary glass replacement. Employees are in high demand, as accidents are common.

Salary: $43,800 median salary2

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Collision Techs:

  • Attention to detail
  • Committed to keep up with techniques to restore modern vehicles
  • Interpersonal skills to work with the team and with customers
  • Ability to manage time efficiently and deliver repairs on time

Paint Tech:

Automotive paint technicians perform partial and complete refinishing of vehicles, applying the latest two-stage and three-stage paint technology. Create exciting custom paint jobs on new and vintage cars.

Salary: $47,760 median salary3

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Paint Techs:

  • Steady hand and good hand-eye coordination
  • Attention to detail
  • Eye for creativity
  • Interpersonal skills to work with the team and with customers

Service Advisor:

Act as liaison between customers and auto techs to guide car repairs through the shop. Help identify cause of damage and options for repairs. Assist in ordering parts and double-checking car repairs. Deliver repaired vehicles to customers.

Salary: $38,700 median salary6

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Service Advisors:

  • Knack for customer service, verbal and written communication
  • Ability to build trust and relationships with customers
  • Technical know-how of cars and repairs
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once
pointer

Collision Estimator:

Identifies required repair work and computes cost of replacement parts and labor to restore vehicle to its pre-accident condition using electronic estimating software. Explains estimate to customer and answers questions the customer has about the work needed. Works with insurance company representatives to manage claims.

Salary: $46,500 median salary4

Education: High school diploma required. Past auto experience recommended.

Traits of the Best Collision Estimators:

  • Attention to detail to ensure accuracy
  • Strong set of interpersonal communication skills
  • Customer service mindset dedicated to helping customers get back on the road
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once

Auto Shop Owner:

Manage the day-to-day operations of an automotive repair facility, including staffing, facility/equipment, customer service, financial, marketing and other aspects of running a business. Often work in other positions within the industry before becoming an auto shop owner.

Salary: Varies based on experience and location.

Education: High school diploma required. Post-secondary education in business and/or automotive repair recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Shop Owners:

  • Entrepreneurial and self-motivated personality
  • Ability to lead a team and solve problems
  • Go-getter attitude to tackle everyday challenges
  • Attention to detail to ensure shop is profitable and efficient

Parts Professional:

An automotive parts professional handles parts purchases by wholesale and retail customers over the phone, electronically and in person. The parts professional uses electronic catalogs to identify, source, sell and deliver the correct part needed for the job. They assist customers, manage inventory and deal with any returns or warranty issues that arise. Parts professionals work in a variety of settings, from auto parts stores and automotive recycling facilities to wholesale supply businesses and new car dealers.

Salary: $45,400 median salary5

Education: High school diploma required. Past auto experience recommended.

Traits of the Best Parts Professionals:

  • Extensive knowledge of auto repair and parts
  • Committed to customer service and communication
  • Experience in inventory management

Auto Machinist:

An automotive machinist builds, reconditions and repairs entire engines and various engine parts. A machinist operates equipment such as engine dynamometers, drills, lathes, mills and other shop hand tools. Machinists work in auto parts stores, industrial tool and die shops, or even as pit crew mechanics for NASCAR or other race circuits.

Salary: $42,1007

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Machinists:

  • Love for working with your hands
  • Drive to take on challenges and solve problems
  • Steady hand and good hand-eye coordination
  • Passion to work as a critical part of a team