Body shops and auto collision repair centers throughout the U.S. are expected to add more than 15,000 jobs to the workforce between 2014 and 2024. Numerous schools across the country offer formal collision repair training for aspiring members of the industry, and NATEF-accredited programs are among the most respected and reliable of all auto body training schools.
Thinking about becoming an auto body technician yourself? Here's some info about NATEF collision repair training schools and how your education can lead to a solid career.
What is NATEF?
NATEF, which stands for National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission it is to improve the quality of auto mechanic and collision repair training programs nationwide. NATEF officials examine instructional resources and program structure to ensure that collision repair and mechanic schools can give students the skills necessary to succeed once they graduate into the working world.
What are the Benefits of Attending Auto Body Schools?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals who attend training programs at collision repair schools tend to move on to positions of independence and greater responsibility quicker than those who jump straight into the job search without formal training. Here's a short list of subjects you're likely to study in your auto body technician training program:
- Painting and refinishing
- Structural analysis and repair
- Damage estimating
- Heating and air conditioning
- Plastic and adhesives repair
- Suspension and alignment
- Airbrushing techniques
Depending on the program you choose, another benefit may be the ability to take a portion of the credits you earned in auto body school and transfer them into a bachelor's degree program at a public or private university. If you're hoping to further your education after a few years as an auto body technician, make sure to look for collision repair schools that offer their training as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree plan, rather than a certificate or diploma.
How Much Does an Auto Body Technician Make?
Data published by the BLS show that the mean annual auto body technician salary was $45,180 nationwide in 2016, with the average for workers at dealership service centers coming in at $46,160. Some of the largest salaries by industry in the nation belonged to collision techs who worked for car manufacturers — auto body repairers in that industry reported mean annual wages of $50,240 in 2016.
Auto body techs with specialized expertise or extensive experience on the job tend to make more money per year on average. BLS stats don't contain reports for each level of education or income, but 2016 data indicate that the top 25 percent of earners in the industry took home $55,460 or more — more than $10,000 per year greater than the national average — while the top 10 percent of auto body technician salaries all came in above $70,620 the same year.
How Can You Enroll in Auto Body Schools?
If you think you're ready to find a collision repair training program in your area, it's always a good idea to reach out and speak to a few schools individually before settling on one. Browse through our listings below to get an idea of what's out there, then get in touch and find out how you can get started on the path to a sturdy career in auto body repair.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Automotive Body and Related Repairers, Occupational Employment and Wages, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493021.htm; Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Installation-Maintenance-and-Repair/Automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm; accessed November 2017
- About NATEF, National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, accessed February 28, 2016, http://www.natef.org/About-NATEF.aspx
- School pages, accessed February 28, 2016: Automotive Collision Technician Program, Ohio Technical College, http://www.ohiotech.edu/auto-collision-technician-program/; Auto Collision Repair Technology, Southeast Community College, https://www.southeast.edu/autocollisionrepair/