By Donnie A Smith
Why choose collision repair as a career pathway?
Hands-on: Why should your job be boring and dreadful? You can earn income doing the things you like to do. If you’re someone that likes working with your hands, a high-tech environment and you enjoy being able to step back and see the results of your work; then collision repair may be a good fit for you.
High income potential: I-Car Education Foundation completed a survey, showing the average income that a collision repair technician earns. You may be surprised that the average income of $51,312 is higher then many other comparable trades. In fact, the top 10% earn $88,460. Although, just like with any career, you shouldn’t expect this your first year on the job. These are the incomes you can expect to make with experience and commitment.
Job Security: As roads and highways become more populated with vehicles, the results are more auto accidents. Unfortunately, the automotive industry is not finding enough trained technicians to properly repair these modern day vehicles. This means job security for you.
Work will never be outsourced: Think about it! Could you imagine a damaged vehicle being loaded on a ship, taken overseas, repaired, and shipped back to the customer…it’s not going to happen. We need trained collision and paint technicians right here in the United States, in every state and every city to repair our cars. As a technician, you will never have to worry about your job being outsourced.
What are some of the things to consider when choosing a school to attend?
NATEF certified: Make sure the school is a National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) accredited. This gives you peace of mind knowing that the school has met the NATEF standards and is a quality school. NATEF is national recognized in the automotive industry and will give you a competitive edge, when you pursue a job. In order to be NATEF accredited, all instructors must be Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified to teach. This means that you will have competent instructors to ensure your success in the future.
I-Car affiliation: Make sure the school is affiliated with I-Car. I-Car is an organization that helps the collision industry with on-going training. They provide training to technicians already on the job and they provide curriculum and support to colleges and technical schools to prepare students for the world-of-work. I-Car is known throughout the collision industry and will give your potential employer another perk to hire you.
Where do I find a school like this and how do I enroll?
1. Call the school to set up a time you can visit with them and ask to tour the collision repair program.
2. Is the collision program accredited? If so, who are they accredited through?
3. Are they affiliated with I-Car and what curriculum do they use?
4. Ask if one of the program instructors are available to speak with. You can ask them program specific questions. This will give you a better feel of the program and the instructors.
5. What is their student per instructor ratio?
6. Find out what requirements, tools, tuition,and fees are required.
7. Have them explain the difference between a certificate and an associates degree. (some technical schools do not offer associates degrees)
8. Does the college have any articulation agreements with any other schools, which allows the student to transfer into a four-year university?
9. Once you feel you have made the correct decision, ask them to direct you to an advisor. The advisor will walk you through the steps to get you enrolled.