- A high school diploma is the sole prerequisite for enrollment in most cases. High school shop and auto body repair classes provide good preparation for would-be auto mechanics.
Hands-on work with tools and repair projects make up the core of postsecondary degree and certificate programs for auto body repair, with classroom study playing a supporting role. Classes may cover structural and non-structural damage, panel removal and repair, welding and cutting techniques, plastics and adhesives, primer and topcoat, damage assessment, body filling, metal finishing, glass repair, anti-collision technology and repair shop equipment.
Although voluntary, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers four certification examinations for auto body mechanics. These have become widely adopted credentials, especially in urban areas of the U.S. Body mechanics earn certification if they pass an exam and possess two years of work experience. The completion of an educational program for auto body repair can count as one year of experience. Mechanics that pass all four exams are certified as ASE Master Collision Repair and Refinish Technicians.
Job Duties and Skills
In the preliminary stages of a job, auto body mechanics examine vehicles, assess damage, and provide a cost estimate. In the repair stage, they straighten frame damage if necessary, pull or fill dents, cut and reshape metal, replace broken glass and apply paint. Auto body mechanics need an eye for form and color, the strength to lift heavy objects and steady hands. They must also exhibit a willingness to withstand temperature extremes and exposure to paint fumes and material dust.
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