Collision Estimator Career
There are many possibilities when it comes to a career in collision repair. Typically, one might think of a body repair position or a paint technician. However, there are a lot of related careers that collision repair can lead to. For example, you can work in an auto parts store, a dealership, with an insurance company, as a paint representative, a trainer, etc. This article will examine a career as a collision estimator.
A collision estimator is a person that writes repair estimates on vehicles that have been involved in an accident. The estimator must have good communication skills, as they will be dealing with customers on a daily basis. Not only does the estimator have to communicate with customers, but they will also be the contact person for the insurance companies, shop managers and the shop foreman or technicians. Therefore, good communication is a must for a collision estimator.
This career pathway is definitely for a people person. In fact, a collision estimator that writes repair estimates for an auto body repair center needs to be part salesperson. It is their job to sell themselves, the company, the technicians and the service that the shop provides. Not all technicians make good estimators, but it is a good idea for the estimator to have experience as a technician or have collision repair training. (Although there have been people hired without experience and trained by the shop to write estimates.)
There are two different industries that hire collision estimators. One is collision repair centers and the other is insurance companies. This can also split into other categories in each industry. Collision shops can be dealerships, franchise shops or independent shops. Some insurance companies hire their own company collision estimators, while other insurance companies hire independent companies.
What you can earn as a collision estimator will vary depending on your experience and whether you work for a small/large body shop or an insurance company. However, according to O-Net, the national median for a collision estimator is $53,440 and had a growth rate of 7% to 10% in a ten-year period. (2006 – 2016) Some collision repair centers will pay their estimators a salary and a percentage of every job that they sell. If on one of these types of bonus or incentive plans, the more sales that the estimator produces, the more income he or she can earn.
If you’re interested in getting into the collision estimator field, the first thing you will need is to learn is the basics. You can do this by enrolling in a collision repair training program at a local community/technical college. This will allow you to learn about the scope of the industry; from body and structural repair to painting. Most programs incorporate a basic estimating course within the auto program. This will give you a taste of the industry and determine where you best fit in. You may decide to become a body or paint technician instead of a collision estimator.
Whatever you decide, this training is the first step to securing a job in the collision repair industry. Education and experience hold a lot of weight with both auto body repair shops and insurance companies. The training is your foundation, and once you have your basics down, you have many opportunities and directions to explore for a successful career.