To be an auto body mechanic means shouldering the responsibility of repairing and restoring damaged motor vehicles, but to become one takes much more than tinkering on cars as a hobby. Trade jobs are often underestimated and undervalued in the recent world where many young people are pushed to pursue scholarly focuses in higher academia, but auto body specialists, unbeknownst to most, undergo formal training and years of dedicated hands-on experience before signing on at a professional auto body firm level.
An auto body specialist has more responsibilities than simply fixing cars. The job entails strenuous labor on some days, like straightening bent frames, panel installation, pulling dents, and consistently striving for perfection in every layer of applied paint. Even minor jobs demand intensive attention to detail, and for trickier damages dealt onto vehicles, a professional auto body specialist is often called upon to find creative solutions, or conduct thorough research to diagnosis a complex problem.
A successful auto body technician career begins in high school. Professional auto body shops require their specialists to begin forming their background by obtaining a high school diploma or GED. This starting point opens up further opportunities for training and programs to further enhance and hone the necessary skills and experience it takes to become a working auto body specialist.
Some high schools offer vocational training programs in auto body repair, where students learn the basics of their newly budding career. Students are taught to weld, cut, and shape metal, install panels, and learn how to apply fresh paint to a car. Here, students learn what the educational foundation is comprised of in an auto body specialist career: computers and technology, math, chemistry, and physics.
Further sharpening of auto body technical skills is required before reaching the professional level. After high school, an aspiring specialist will seek out a certificate or associate’s degree program to enhance the basics of the field, acquire specialized knowledge, and take courses to gain a full understanding the intimate workings of the auto body repair industry. Courses may focus on a variety of different auto body subjects like dent removal, auto body structural repair, refinishing, and welding. Most programs can be completed in one year, with a 2-year associate’s degree program requiring a broader spectrum of coursework.
Auto body technicians rarely enter a job without receiving a background in auto repair and restoration education. After receiving a GED or high school diploma, then attending and successfully completing a certificate or associate’s degree program, an auto body specialist will be fit to serve in a professional environment to receive on-the-job training. Working alongside experienced, seasoned auto body technicians is one of the best ways to hone skills and further your own education. A hands-on experience is what truly advances an auto body technician, and when exposed to a professional setting with real-world problems, a once student of this vocational field is able to quickly become a master. With on-site experience, an auto body technician will begin work on hybrid vehicles, welding damage vehicles, estimating repair costs, assessing and restoring structural damage, and performing any other necessary duties to outfit damaged vehicles.
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It doesn’t end with a job. Being an auto body specialist at a professional auto body repair firm means advancing your career and even specializing in a specific field of auto body repair work. Career advancement in this field can mean something different for everyone, like opening your own shop, becoming a supervisor of the shop you are employed at, getting certified, or continuing your education in auto body technology, training, and techniques.
Of course, there is an essential ingredient that drives the career of a professional auto body specialist, and that’s the passion to work on cars. Without this compelling interest in cars, there wouldn’t be the success that derives from sheer determination. Working on cars demands certain qualities in a technician that only true car lovers can possess, like patience, a good temperament, and the desire to understand these important machines. The best auto body firms have professional, experienced technicians who have discovered their love of cars early on and have pursued their interests to the fullest extent.