The auto body technician — otherwise known as the auto body repairer or collision repair technician — is responsible for the repair and replacement of vehicle bodies and their parts. They perform collision repair for all kinds of vehicles, from cars and trucks to buses and motorcycles.
Auto body technicians must be able to identify and correct problems with an automotive body. They use a variety of tools, including hammers, screwdrivers and sanders. They may also use welding equipment to repair or replace metal panels.
If specific body parts can’t be fixed, auto body repairers can typically replace vehicle bodies completely.
In addition to repairs, auto body technicians may also be responsible for painting vehicles. They must match the paint color exactly, and they must apply the paint evenly.
Some auto body technicians specialize in one type of repair, such as dent repair or glass installation. Others may specialize in a particular type of vehicle or work with specific materials, such as fiberglass.
Many auto body technicians learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship program. These programs typically last 4 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Some states require auto body technicians to be licensed.
Auto body technicians typically work in auto body shops. They may work for dealerships or auto body repair shops that specialize in a particular type of vehicle, such as motorcycles. Auto body technicians typically work full time. Some may work evenings or weekends to accommodate customer’s schedules.
Professional Auto Body Technicians Do Not Do Mechanical Repair
There is a difference between an auto body technician and a mechanic. Auto body technician jobs focus on the exterior of the vehicle. This includes the frame, doors, windows and glass. A mechanic focuses on the engine and other mechanical parts of the vehicle. (Learn more about auto body vs mechanic.)
Auto Body Technician Job Duties
There is a lot that goes into a body technician job description. Auto body technician responsibilities include:
- Read repair orders and examine damaged vehicles to determine how to proceed with repairs;
- Remove upholstery, accessories, electrical window and seat motors, lighting fixtures, trim and other components and systems, using hand tools and power tools;
- Hammer out dents, buckles and defects using blocks and hammers;
- Realign car frames;
- Weld replacement parts to repaired surfaces;
- Grind down protruding welds;
- File finished surfaces using a power grinder or hand file until smooth;
- Apply primers, which help to solve problems like extensive rust or body damage;
- Mix paint by following prescribed color charts;
- Spray-paint surfaces using an airbrush or a spray gun and mix colors to achieve the correct hue.
Auto Body Technician Skills
In addition to technical skills, auto body technicians need interpersonal skills. They must be able to communicate well with customers, insurance adjusters and colleagues. Because many technicians work in small shops or independent repair centers, they also need business skills.
Auto body technicians should have the following skills:
- Customer-service skills. When dealing with customers, auto body technicians must be polite and understanding. They often must explain the repair process in a way that a layperson can understand.
- Interpersonal skills. Auto body technicians must be able to work well with others. They often work in teams to complete repairs, so it’s important that they be able to communicate effectively and cooperate.
- Business skills. Many auto body technicians own their own shops or work in small shops. As such, they need business skills such as marketing, accounting and human resources.
- Technical skills. Auto body technicians must have a wide range of technical skills. They must be able to use tools such as grinders, sanders and welding equipment. They also must be familiar with the inner workings of a car, such as the engine, transmission and suspension.
- Time-management skills. Auto body technicians must be able to manage their time effectively.
Auto body technicians play an important role in the automotive industry. They are responsible for repairing and maintaining the bodies of cars and trucks. To be successful, they need a wide range of skills, including technical, business and time-management skills.