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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit and a mouth mask, is sanding down the wing of a blue car.  He is in a garage.

    Preparing the paintwork for re-spraying.

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit, is pouring paint into a tin.

    Mixing paints by weight.

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit and a full face mask, is kneeling on the floor of a workshop.  He is spraying a car with paint using a hand-held, spray-gun.

    Spraying the car.

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit, is polishing a car, using an electronic device.  He is in a garage.

    Polishing the car.

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit, is crouched down next to a blue car.  He is covering parts of the car with paper using tape, to protect it from spray paint.

    Other parts of the car are covered with paper to protect them from the spray paint.

  • A man, wearing a white protective suit, is using a microfiche monitor to check paint mixing instructions.  He is in a workshop.  On the wall to the side of him are rows of jars of paint.

    Checking paint mixing instructions using a microfiche.

Vehicle Body Refinisher


Vehicle body refinishers apply a paint finish to vehicles that have been damaged in accidents. They prepare the surface to be sprayed and make sure that the paint they use has been mixed and prepared properly to match the right colour for the vehicle.

Also known as

  • Car Spray Painter
  • Painter, Vehicle Spray
  • Vehicle Spray Painter

Video: - Alastair: Vehicle Spray Painter

Work Activities

A vehicle body refinisher receives a vehicle from a vehicle body repairer, who will have replaced or repaired any damaged body panels.

They inspect and clean the repaired area and decide what they need to do to complete the repair. They remove any wax, grease or dust from the vehicle before painting. They may discuss with customers or managers what options are available for the vehicle.

They smooth the surface of the metal by hand, with special types of sandpaper or by using a machine. They then check the surface by looking at it and touching it. They may remove or cover any parts of the vehicle which are not to be painted.

The next task is to prepare and apply the paint. It's very important that the colours and tints exactly match the existing surface. Vehicle body refinishers may use computerised paint mixing technology in this process, although matching colours by eye is still important.

They use a hand-held spray gun that applies the paint in a fine spray. They usually need to apply several coats to prevent the metal from rusting. When the paint is dry, they polish the surface so that it blends with the rest of the vehicle.

Vehicle body refinishers need to wear protective clothing, including masks and goggles. Their work takes place in workshops, which can get noisy.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a vehicle body refinisher, you need:

  • To enjoy practical and physically active work.
  • To be accurate in your work, paying close attention to detail.
  • To be able to interpret written instructions and technical information.
  • An awareness of health and safety issues.
  • To be able to operate and control a range of specialised equipment.
  • Good hand to eye co-ordination.
  • To be able to use computerised paint mixing technology.
  • To be physically fit and able to cope with bending, lifting and kneeling - a lot of work takes place on your feet.
  • Good communication skills, as you could be dealing with customers.

The work may be unsuitable for you if you have respiratory or bronchial conditions. Your colour vision may be tested.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

Vehicle body refinishers earn in the range of £15,000 - £18,000 a year, rising to £20,500 - £25,000 a year, with experience.

Hours of work

Vehicle body refinishers usually work a 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. Shift work, overtime and Saturday working may be required.

What's happening in this work area?

The automotive repair and maintenance industry has suffered significantly during the recession as people are putting off minor, non-essential routine vehicle repair work. Independent garages, relying on word-of-mouth for business rather than advertising/marketing, seem to have been less affected than other garages.

There is evidence that many businesses in this sector are making redundancies and are not replacing these staff.

Where could I work?

Employers include motor vehicle retail dealerships and firms and organisations with large fleets of vehicles. These include road haulage companies, bus and coach operators, public utility companies, supermarket chains, local authorities, and taxi and delivery companies. Railway operators may also have opportunities.

Opportunities for vehicle body refinishers occur throughout the UK.


Opportunities occur for qualified and experienced vehicle body refinishers to become self-employed or move into related areas such as insurance assessment or equipment sales.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.

Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment agencies and internet job boards.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You usually enter this career by applying for a trainee post with an employer.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start.

Some training organisations, including Retail Motor Industry Training (Remit) and some of the larger employers, provide an Advanced Apprenticeship.

Some people study full-time at college before entering employment, for example for an Edexcel (BTEC) National qualification, or a City & Guilds or Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) qualification in Vehicle Body and Paint Operations (Refinishing).


Most entrants train in the workplace, with day- or block-release to a further education college or a manufacturer's centre of excellence.

Training leads to a qualification such as Vehicle Body and Paint Operations (Refinishing) at levels 2 and 3.


Vehicle body refinishers can progress to specialist posts or to team leader/supervisor positions after further training and experience.


To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C or above, possibly including English and Maths.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Entrants with skills gained in vehicle body repair work, have opportunities to enter further training.


Most colleges will consider applications from older candidates who don't have the usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.


  • 15% of people in occupations such as vehicle body refinisher are self-employed.
  • 9% work part-time.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468



Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)

Skills for the motor industry

Address: Fanshaws, Brickendon, Hertford SG13 8PQ

Tel: 01992 511521



Transport Training Services Ltd (TTS)

Irish enquiries

Address: 15 Dundrod Road, Nutts Corner, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SS

Tel: 028 9082 5653



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


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