Automotive Body and Glass Repairers


Quick Facts: Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
2017 Median Pay $40,580 per year 
$19.51 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 180,000
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 14,900

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Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Do

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

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Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Duties of Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body 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

  • Sand, buff, and prime refurbished and repaired surfaces

  • Apply new finish to restored body parts

Automotive glass installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Examine damaged glass or windshields and assess repairability

  • Clean damaged areas and prepare the surfaces for repair

  • Stabilize chips and cracks with clear resin

  • Remove glass that cannot be repaired

  • Check windshield frames for rust

  • Clean windshield frames and prepare them for installation

  • Apply urethane sealant to the windshield frames

  • Install replacement glass

  • Replace any parts removed prior to repairs

Automotive body and glass repairers can repair most damage from vehicle collisions and make vehicles look and drive like new. Repairs 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 weakened or compromised. Body repairers restore the structural integrity of car frames to manufacturer specifications.

Body repairers use pneumatic tools and plasma cutters to remove damaged parts, such as bumpers and door panels. They also often use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks and hammers for major structural repairs, such as aligning the body. For some work, they use common hand tools, such as metal files, pliers, wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers.

In some cases, body repairers complete 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 individual performing a specialized task. Although body repairers sometimes prime and paint repaired parts, painting and coating workers generally perform these tasks.

Glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location and perform their work in the field. They commonly use specialized tools such as vacuum pumps to fill windshield cracks and chips with a stabilizing resin. When windshields are badly damaged, they use knives to remove the damaged windshield, and then they secure the new windshield using a special urethane adhesive.


Work Environment for Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body and related repairers held about 160,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of automotive body and related repairers were as follows:

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair: 57%

Automobile dealers: 19%

Self-employed workers: 9%

Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance: 6%

Automotive glass installers and repairers held about 19,600 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of automotive glass installers and repairers were as follows:

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair: 87%

Self-employed workers: 4%

Construction: 2%

Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores: 2%

Body repairers typically work indoors in body shops, which are often noisy. Most shops are well ventilated, so that dust and paint fumes can be dispersed. Glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location to repair damaged windshields and window glass.

Automotive body and glass repairers sometimes work in awkward and cramped positions, and their work can be physically demanding.

Injuries and Illnesses

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

Work Schedules

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


How to Become an Automotive Body and Glass Repairer

Most employers prefer to hire automotive body and glass repairers who have completed a training program in automotive body or glass repair. Still, many new body and glass repairers begin work without previous 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 technical instruction. Topics usually include electronics, repair cost estimation, and welding, all of which provide a strong educational foundation for a career as a body repairer.

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.

Training

New workers typically begin their on-the-job training by helping an experienced body repairer with basic tasks, such as fixing minor dents. As they gain experience, they move on to more complex work, such as aligning car frames. Some body repairers may become trained in as little as 1 year, but they generally need 2 or 3 years of hands-on training to become fully independent body repairers.

Basic automotive glass installation and repair can be learned in as little as 6 months, but becoming fully independent can take up to a year of training.

Workers who complete programs in collision repair often require significantly less on-the-job training. They typically advance to independent work more quickly than those who do not have the same level of education.

Throughout their careers, body repairers need to continue their training to keep up with rapidly changing automotive technology and materials. Body repairers 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, such as those offered by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a standard credential for body repairers. In addition, many vehicle and paint manufacturers have product certification programs that are used to train body repairers in specific technologies and repair methods. 

A few states require a license to perform automotive glass installation and repair. Check with your state for more information.

Advancement

Automotive body and glass repairers earn more money as they gain experience, and some may advance into management positions within body shops, especially those workers with 2- or 4-year degrees.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Automotive body and glass repairers evaluate vehicle damage and determine necessary repair strategies. In some cases, they must decide if a vehicle is “totaled,” or too damaged to justify the cost of repair.

Customer-service skills. Automotive body and glass repairers discuss auto body and glass problems, along with options to fix them, with customers. Workers must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Automotive body and glass repairers must pay close attention to detail. Restoring a damaged auto body or windshield requires workers to have a keen eye for even the smallest imperfection.

Dexterity. Automotive body repairers’ 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. Automotive body repairers must know which diagnostic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and other power equipment and tools are appropriate for certain procedures and repairs. They must know how to apply the correct techniques and methods necessary to repair automobiles.

Physical strength. Automotive body and glass repairers must sometimes lift heavy parts, such as door panels and windshields.

Time-management skills. Automotive body and glass repairers must be timely in their repairs. For many people, their automobile is their primary mode of transportation.


Salaries for Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

The median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $41,970 in May 2017. 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 $25,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,670.

The median annual wage for automotive glass installers and repairers was $34,170 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,690.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for automotive body and related repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair: $41,880

Automobile dealers: $41,340

Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance: $41,310

In May 2017, the median annual wages for automotive glass installers and repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction: $38,060

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair: $34,150

Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores: $31,180

The majority of repair shops and auto dealers pay automotive body and glass repairers 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.

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


Job Outlook for Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Overall employment of automotive body and glass repairers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty (see table below).

An increase in the number of vehicles on the road should bolster demand for automotive body and glass repair over the next decade. Demand may fluctuate throughout the year due to the seasonality of inclement weather in some regions. The need for repair may be greater during the winter months in areas with snow and ice, for example, because these conditions increase the chance of accidents.

The adoption of advanced safety features, such as automatic braking for collision avoidance and more durable automotive glass, may reduce future demand for automotive body and glass repair work, but this technology will take time to become commonplace.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are projected to be good for automotive body and glass repairers. The need to replace experienced automotive body and glass repairers who change occupations, retire, or stop working for other reasons will also provide many job opportunities.

The best opportunities in automotive body repair will be available to those with industry certification and training in automotive body repair and refinishing, and in collision repair.

Employment projections data for Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 2,955,200

Projected Employment, 2026: 3,392,200

Change, 2016-2026: +15%, +437,000


Careers Related to Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

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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.

Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators

Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators evaluate insurance claims. They decide whether an insurance company must pay a claim, and if so, how much.

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians (also known as diesel technicians) and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

Glaziers

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

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

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

Painting and Coating Workers

Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics, often with the use of machines.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians$61,260
Automotive Service Technicians and MechanicsPostsecondary nondegree award$39,550
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators$64,690
Diesel Service Technicians and MechanicsHigh school diploma or equivalent$46,360
GlaziersHigh school diploma or equivalent$42,580
Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service TechniciansHigh school diploma or equivalent$49,440
Painting and Coating Workers$36,010

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Automotive Body and Glass Repairers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm