Vehicle Body Repairer
Vehicle body repairers mend damage to the bodywork of motor vehicles. Their work involves hammering out dents, fitting new doors, bonnets and windscreens, and replacing body panels. They use special measuring equipment called body jigs, and carry out welding repairs.
Also known as
- Automobile Body Repairer
- Body Repairer, Vehicle
- Car Body Repairer
- Motor Vehicle Body Repairer
A vehicle body repairer fixes damaged vehicles by restoring the vehicle body to its original shape.
To get the vehicle back into shape, brackets are bolted onto it and the repairer uses a jig to straighten the chassis by pulling it square.
A vehicle body repairer's work involves hammering out dents or filling them with plastic compounds.
They also fit new doors, bonnets, windscreens, bumpers and panels supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. Sometimes, they cut and shape sheet metal on a workbench themselves, and weld or rivet it into place. They may also order replacement parts.
In workshops where spray painting is not a separate job, they also clean the new or repaired area with solvents, sand it down and mask windows and chrome. Areas not needing to be painted are covered or removed.
They then brush on a primer (a preparatory coat) and rub that down, mix paint to match the rest of the vehicle, spray on the necessary number of coats and polish the final coat. They may use computerised paint mixing technology to get the match exactly right.
The work is usually under cover in garages and workshops, and in bright artificial light. Workshops can get noisy.
Vehicle body repairers usually do spray painting in special booths with extractor fans. They wear overalls or other clothing to protect against dirt, oil and grease. They wear masks to protect from dust and fumes.
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 repairer, you need:
- To be good with your hands.
- To be patient and careful to achieve a perfectly smooth finish.
- Practical skills.
- The ability to pay close attention to detail in your work.
- To be able to work well without supervision - you may be the only vehicle body repairer in a garage.
- Good communication skills - you may be dealing with customers.
- Good teamwork skills.
- A responsible and safety-conscious approach to your work.
- To be physically fit and agile, as this work involves bending, lifting and lying under vehicles.
Your colour vision may be tested. A driving licence may be required for this job.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Vehicle body repairers earn in the range of £16,000 - £18,500 a year, rising to £21,000 - £25,000 a year, with experience. Salaries of up to £30,000 a year are possible for senior positions.
Hours of work
Vehicle body repairers usually work a 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. You may have to do shift work, overtime and work on Saturdays.
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 large garages handling private cars and vans, 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 repairers occur throughout the UK.
Opportunities occur for qualified and experienced vehicle body repairers to become self-employed.
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
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 (Body Repair).
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 (Body Repair) at levels 2 and 3.
Vehicle body repairers 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.
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.
Skills gained in sheet metal work or spray painting for a manufacturing firm will help you to enter this career.
- 22% of people in occupations such as vehicle body repairer are self-employed.
- 7% work part-time.
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)
Address: 15 Dundrod Road, Nutts Corner, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SS
Tel: 028 9082 5653
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844