Collision repair and refinishing can be a good career move for those who enjoy hands on work. Read on to find out more about becoming a collision repair professional.
With the sheer number of vehicles on the road, accidents are inevitable, and while some incidents may leave a car totaled, most do not. This is where collision repair becomes important. Once all the immediate post-crash issues are dealt with, car owners will inevitably look to restore their vehicle to its pre-crash state.
Restoring damaged vehicles requires a unique blend of technical skill and artistic talent, making collision repair an enticing career move for many people. If you are one of the many individuals looking to enter a collision repair training course but do not know where to begin, you are in luck, as this topic will be explored in greater depth below.
What Is Collision Repair?
Before diving into the certification process and the various training options, it is worth taking a moment and to go over precisely what collision repair technicians do on a day-to-day basis. In essence, collision repair technicians are responsible for fixing the bodies of vehicles that have sustained damage in a collision or accident. They do this by using a broad set of tools, skills, and knowledge, all of which require a formal education process to use and understand appropriately. Refer to the list below for a closer look at what type of duties a collision repair technician performs.
Repair damaged body panels using body hammers and other dent-repair tools.
Weld metal parts that have been damaged or have fallen off.
Use hydraulic jacks and other heavy-duty equipment to realign wheels and axles.
Developing an estimate of repair costs.
Filling, sanding, and airbrushing damaged exteriors.
Rewiring of damaged electronics.
Repainting and other cosmetic bodywork
What Is The Training And Certification Process?
If you are thinking about becoming a collision repair technician, you will be happy to know that the training and certification process is not very complicated, and most people can complete all the required steps within one or two years. If you are not familiar with the process and would like to learn more, refer to the information below.
Step 1: High school Diploma or GED
Although most programs have no formal requirements, some prefer that applicants have either a high school diploma or a GED. Even if your program of choice has no such requirement, many employers strongly prefer applicants who possess a high school education.
Step 2: Enroll In A Program
When comparing different schools and programs, you should understand the different types of collision repair certificates and degrees available. In general, applicants will have three options available to them.
Certificate: Collision repair certificates can be completed in as little as one or two semesters. Although some certificate programs teach the fundamentals, most of these programs cater to individuals who already have some level of training and experience in the field and are looking to improve their skills in a particular area or specialty of collision repair. As a result, certificate programs are generally not the best option for anyone looking to begin their career in collision repair.
Diploma: A diploma program is the standard route most individuals will take on their way to becoming a collision repair professional. Most diploma programs take roughly a year to complete and offer a much more comprehensive education than certificate programs.
Associates Degree: When it comes to collision repair and refinishing, an associate's degree is the highest level of education available and takes around two years to complete. Associate degree programs offer more hands-on training than diploma programs and introduce students to some specialty concepts and skills that they are unlikely to get anywhere else.
Some programs, especially two-year associate's programs, will provide students with the opportunity to participate in a paid apprenticeship program. Although such a program is not required, it provides valuable hands-on work experience that will impress future employers.
Unlike some other fields, there is no need to be certified if you wish to work in collision repair. However, these certificates can increase employment opportunities, as some of the higher-paying shops and garages will only hire certified technicians. As of now, there are two main certifications.
I-CAR: I-CAR, short for Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is a collision repair certificate that requires recipients to possess welding skills and have a good understanding of how to repair different makes and models of vehicles. Many schools are partnered with I-CAR, allowing their students to receive certification upon graduation.
ASE: The National Institute For Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE for short, has four certification tests for technicians and one for estimators. If you pass one of the tests and complete two years of work experience, you achieve the title of ASE Collision repair or refinishing technician. If you manage to complete all four technician tests, you can now call yourself an ASE master collision repair or refinishing technician.
Top Programs And Schools
Idaho State University runs an ASE-certified collision repair course that accepts 20 students a year. Along with financial aid options and a top-rated program, Idaho state offers a total of four different collision repair programs, ranging from 1.5 to 2 years in length.
Duration: 1.5 - 2 years
Total Cost: $15,938 - $22,301
Location: Pocatello Idaho
Rollo technical institute offers another quality option that is both certified and well-reviewed by students and industry professionals. One interesting aspect of Rollo Technical Institute is they allow senior high school students to participate in the program while they are still in school.
Duration: 2 years
Total Cost: $21,600
Location: Kansas, Missouri
WyoTech is a technical institute that specializes in collision repair and is one of the best around. Not only is the program certified, but it also has relationships with both ASE and I-CAR. One of the main reasons why WyoTech students experience such success is because this nine-month program is over 60% hands-on, meaning students are in the shop practicing their craft more often than not.
Duration: 9 months
Location: Laramie Wyoming
The New York Automotive and Diesel Institute offers an information-packed certification course that spans four semesters. Aside from being ASE certified, NYADI also offers stackable certificates in partnership with top car manufacturers like Ford, Isuzu, Mercedes, and Chrysler.
Duration: 1 year
Location: Jamaica New York
Offering both certificate and diploma programs, WKCTC is an excellent option for those looking for a more affordable program. As with the other programs on this list, graduates will be eligible to apply for certification from ASE. The diploma program is split up into two 16 week semesters, which includes a good balance of hands-on and classroom learning.
Duration: 32 weeks
Location: Paducah Kentucky