The job of a paint and bodywork technician is to repair minor bumps, scrapes and scratches on vehicles that have been damaged and repaint the affected areas to leave them looking as good as new. They may also provide customised paint jobs for clients involving a repaint of the entire car.
What do you need to have studied?
Although no formal qualifications are needed to start work as a paint and bodywork technician, the most common way into the profession is through an apprenticeship, which will usually require four GCSEs. The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has a pre-apprenticeship programme for students aged 14 to 16 that will usually lead to a full apprenticeship with a garage. It is also possible to study for an NVQ, SVQ or National Diploma in a field such as motor vehicle body and paint operations and then apply directly to a garage or bodyworks shop afterwards.
How do you get a job?
For some, an apprenticeship with a garage may turn into a full-time position once training has been completed. Those studying for NVQs or similar qualifications will need to look for jobs locally in garages or those advertised in automotive magazines.
Is there an interview process?
There will usually be an interview process when applying for an apprenticeship or a position at a new garage, but they are often quite informal. Employers are more interested in the skills and qualities that a potential technician possess, such as their eye for detail and professionalism.
What are the opportunities for career progression?
There is a high demand for skilled paint and body technicians, with opportunities in both large and small repair businesses up and down the UK. Large haulage firms also recruit technicians to work exclusively on the company’s fleet of vehicles, or you may be able to branch out into the more creative side of the business by creating customised paint jobs for clients. There may also be opportunities to set up your own business, to train new apprentices or to work abroad.
Once you have been working in the industry for at least two years you can apply to the Automobile Training Association (ATA) for accreditation. The qualification is recognised across the industry and is designed to enhance the career prospects of people working in the automotive business by providing employers with proof that their skills are of an advanced standard.
What’s the salary?
A newly qualified body repairer can expect to earn between £14,500 and £18,000 per year. Once you’ve got a few years of post-qualification experience under your belt and an ATA accreditation, salaries can reach £25,000 and over.
What benefits are there?
Work as a paint and bodywork technician is varied and challenging, as every paint job will require different skills. You may be dealing with a minor scratch that can be painted over quite easily or a classic Ferrari that has been heavily damaged in an accident. In addition, seeing the finished article freshly painted and handing it back to the customer as good as new provides workers with a real sense of job satisfaction. You could use your training and qualifications to set up or join a business specialising in the growing field of vehicle customisation, allowing you to pursue a more creative career.
What are the toughest parts of the job?
Attention to detail is a must, and your employer will expect you to produce work that is flawless, durable and completed to a deadline; as a result the job can be stressful. It is also important to observe strict health and safety guidelines at all times.