Auto Body Technician
Auto body technicians repair and replace damaged motor vehicle structures and body parts, and interior and exterior finishes.
Journeyperson auto body technicians may specialize in damage appraisal, frame straightening, surface preparation, sheet metal work, and refinishing.
After preparing or reviewing motor vehicle repair estimate reports, auto body technicians:
- use frame machines to straighten bent frames and unitized bodies
- remove badly damaged sections of vehicles (e.g., roof, rear body panels, etc.) and weld in new sections
- repair damage to body panels and weld sheet metal
- apply masking to the bumpers, windows and trim and use a spray gun to apply primer. The auto body technician will then clean and smooth the surface before applying the finish
- repair and/or replace interior and exterior components such as instrument panels, seat frame assemblies, carpets and floorboard insulation, trim panels and mouldings
- replace accident damage components in hybrid systems, airbags and restraint systems
- inspect vehicles for dimensional accuracy and test drive them to ensure proper alignment and handling
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Auto body technicians usually work a 40-hour, five-day week with occasional overtime required. They work indoors in a noisy, sometimes dusty, environment. Although most shops are well ventilated, the work involves exposure to dust and fumes.
There is always some risk of injury involved in working with sharp metals and power tools.
The work is most rewarding for creative decision-makers who perform expert and very precise work.
To be successful in the trade, technicians must have:
- strength, stamina and the use of proper lifting techniques to handle heavy tools and parts weighing up to 25 kilograms;
- hand skills to perform technical repairs;
- creativity, patience and an eye for detail;
- good colour vision;
- current knowledge of the changes in plastics, electronics, metals, finishes and vehicle systems;
- computer literacy skills;
- good customer service skills; and
- commitment to safe work habits and industry safety programs.
Auto body technicians are employed by auto body repair shops, automobile and truck dealerships, custom shops and sometimes by companies with vehicle fleets.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $19 to $35 an hour plus benefits, depending on the region.
Experienced auto body technicians may advance to supervisory positions, start their own businesses or become automobile damage appraisers for insurance companies.
To work as an auto body technician in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for an auto body technician is 4 years (four 12 month periods). This includes 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks of technical training in the first year; 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in the second year; 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the third years; and 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the fourth year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the auto body prepper, repairer or refinisher branches of the trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a auto body technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice auto body technicians earn at least 55 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second year, and 75 percent in the third year and 80% in the fourth year;
- complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for Auto Body Technician apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
Auto body technicians who hold a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.