Auto Body Technician - Auto Body Prepper
Auto body technicians in the auto body prepper branch of the trade (auto body prepper) are responsible for the restoration of anti-corrosion treatments, substrate identification, surface preparation, undercoat product mixing and application.
Auto body preppers are involved throughout the collision repair process, often beginning with the application of anti-corrosion compounds while the vehicle is still mounted on the frame repair equipment. A key task in the auto body prepper branch involves applying undercoat products in the correct sequence, ensuring chemical compatibility, adhesion and durability. They also remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, deck lids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior components.
Preppers perform substrate preparation mechanically or chemically as required by the job conditions.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Auto body preppers 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, auto body preppers need:
- strength, stamina and the use of proper lefting techniques required to handle heavy tools and parts weighing up to 25 kilograms;
- manual dexterity;
- creativity, patience and an eye for detail;
- good colour vision;
- current knowledge of the annual changes manufacturers make in plastics, electronics, metals, supplemental restraints and paints;
- good customer service skills; and
- commitment to safe work habits.
Auto body preppers 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 $17 to $26 an hour plus benefits, depending on the region.
Experienced auto body preppers may advance to supervisory positions or start their own businesses.
To work as an auto body prepper 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 prepper is 2 years (two 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks of technical training in the first year and 1800 hours of on-the-job training in the second year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the auto body prepper branch 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 apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
- 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-auto body prepper 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
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice auto body preppers earn at least 55 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, and 70 percent in the second 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 - Auto Body Prepper apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrollment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
The auto body prepper branch of the auto body technician trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program
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.