The United States is the largest market for automobile sales of any country in the world, with more than 250 million registered passenger vehicles. The bad news is that more than 6 1/2 million of those cars get into accidents every year. But the good news is that there is steady work for anyone considering work in collision repair.
The best collision repair technicians have a good deal of patience, a flair for the creative as well as good attention to even the smallest detail.
To become a professional collision repair technician requires formal and specialized training in automotive repair work. Especially in the past decade, cars have been designed using very sophisticated computer technology. This means that study is necessary to learn how to repair a damaged vehicle, taking into account its software and sophisticated innovations.
Most collision repair technicians also study custom design work because after a damaged automobile is brought in for repair, owners often decide to change or upgrade existing features while the car is being worked on. Study in collision repair covers the heating and cooling system of the car, electrical circuits, air conditioning systems, power accessories, restraint systems, aluminum and steel panel repair, suspension systems, spot welding, structural straightening, traction control systems and anti-lock brakes.
But collision repair work goes behind fixing the damaged system. Even after the car has been restored to drivable condition, it may still look pretty ugly and mangled, so the second phase of collision repair enters the picture, refinishing. Coursework includes operating a paint spray gun, detailing, blending, proper damage estimating and analysis, welding, repair and corrosion refinishing.
A typical day for a collision repair technician might involve replacing steel panels, molding steel and plastic back into its original shape, welding and reforming entire sections of an automobile, as well as painting and applying a new finish to repaired sections of the auto using buffers and paint sprayers.
Once you have graduated from a certified collision repair school or course of study, your instructors can help guide you to employment in the workforce. Positions might be at small body shops that handle a wide range of repair projects. Or you might join a larger franchise chain and become a specialist at doing just one thing, such as electrical work or welding.
The nation's ongoing accident rate does not seem to be slowing down, so there will always be work available for talented and qualified collision repair technicians.