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Apprenticeship

Auto Body Technician

Auto body technicians repair and replace damaged motor vehicle structures and body parts, and interior and exterior finishes. Duties and responsibilities vary in different branches of the trade in Alberta. 

  • Avg. Salary $61,559.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.44
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 4,600
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Car Body Repairer, Customer Service Technician, Mechanic, Motor Vehicle Tradesperson, Service Technician, Truck Body Repairer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

66%
66%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Auto Body Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Motor Vehicle Body Repairers
NOC code: 7322
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to fill holes, dents and seams using soldering equipment and plastic filler, and to apply primers and repaint surfaces using brushes and spray guns

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information from review of damage reports to determine estimates of repair costs; and in planning work to be performed

innovative

Interest in repairing damaged components and straightening bent frames using frame and underbody pulling and anchoring equipment

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

In Alberta, auto body personnel may be certified as:

  • auto body preppers
  • auto body repairers
  • auto body refinishers
  • auto body technicians.

Auto body preppers are responsible for the restoration of anti-corrosion treatments, substrate identification, surface preparation, undercoat product mixing and application. Since they are involved throughout the collision repair process, they generally:

  • apply anti-corrosion compounds while vehicles are still mounted on frame repair equipment
  • prepare substrate chemically or mechanically (if required by job conditions)
  • apply undercoat products in the correct sequence, ensuring chemical compatibility, adhesion and durability 
  • remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, deck lids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior components. 

Auto body refinishers do damage appraisals, surface preparation, minor damage repairs, masking, accurate colour matching, priming and top coating. They also do restoration of anti-corrosion treatments, substrate identification, product mixing and application. Since they are involved throughout the collision repair process, they generally:

  • prepare substrate chemically or mechanically (if required by job conditions)
  • remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, deck lids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior items
  • match colours accurately
  • mix and apply refinish products in the correct sequence, ensuring chemical compatibility, adhesion and durability
  • perform polishing techniques.

A key task in the auto body refinisher trade involves applying refinish products. Complex colour formulations created by automobile manufacturers require that refinishers develop a high skill level in both product chemistry and colour matching.

Auto body repairers do damage appraisals, frame and unibody structural repairs, body sheet metal work, plastic repairs, component replacement and alignment. In general, they:

  • repair supplemental restraint systems such as air bags and seat belts
  • restore the structural integrity of damaged vehicles by cutting away damaged components and welding in new or recycled replacement components
  • remove and install bolt-on components such as hoods, deck lids, fenders, trim, doors, glass and interior components
  • repair damage to body panels and replace sheet metal
  • verify dimensional accuracy and system functions using precise measuring systems and manufacturer's specifications
  • test drive vehicles to ensure proper alignment, handling and component functions.

Auto body technicians are trained to do all tasks in the auto body trade. They may specialize in damage appraisal, frame straightening, surface preparation, sheet metal work and refinishing. After preparing or reviewing motor vehicle repair estimate reports, auto body technicians:

  • use frame machines to straighten bent frames and unitized bodies
  • remove badly damaged sections of vehicles (for example, roof, rear body panels) and attach new sections
  • repair damage to body panels and components made of a variety of materials
  • apply masking to the bumpers, windows and trim, use a spray gun to apply primer, and then clean and smooth the surface before applying the finish. 
  • repair or replace interior and exterior components such as instrument panels, seat frame assemblies, carpets and floorboard insulation, trim panels and mouldings
  • replace accident damage components in hybrid systems, airbags and restraint systems 
  • inspect vehicles for dimensional accuracy and test drive them to ensure proper alignment and handling.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Auto body personnel usually work a 40 hour, five day week with occasional overtime required. They work indoors in a noisy environment and may be required to lift and move items that weigh up to 25 kilograms.

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Auto body personnel need the following characteristics:

  • the strength and stamina required to handle heavy tools and parts
  • manual dexterity
  • creativity, patience and an eye for detail
  • good colour vision
  • the ability to keep up to date with the annual changes manufacturers make in plastics, electronics, metals, supplemental restraints and paints
  • good customer services skills
  • a commitment to safe work habits.

They should enjoy creative decision making and performing tasks that require precision.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

To work in Alberta, an auto body prepper, refinisher, repairer or technician must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2, Math 10-3 and Science 10, or equivalent, or a pass mark in all 5 GED tests, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. 

Terms of apprenticeship for the different branches of this trade vary:

  • Preppers: 2 years (two 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,600 hours of on-the-job training with 4 weeks of technical training in the first year and a minimum of 1,800 hours on-the-job training in the second.
  • Refinishers: 2 years (two 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,600 hours of on-the-job training with 4 weeks of technical training in the first year and a minimum of 1,600 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in the second.
  • Repairers: 3 years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,600 hours of on-the-job training with 4 weeks of technical training in the first year and a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the second and third years.  
  • Technicians: 4 years (four 12 month periods) that include 1,600 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks of technical training in the first year, 1,600 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in the second year, 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the third year, and 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the fourth year. 

High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Only auto body refinisher and auto body technician apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada). 

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Auto body preppers, repairers, refinishers and technicians are employed by auto body repair shops, automobile and truck dealerships, custom shops and sometimes by companies with vehicle fleets.

Experienced auto body personnel may advance to supervisory positions, start their own businesses or become automobile damage appraisers for insurance companies. Alberta certified journeyperson auto body technicians who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Auto body technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7322: Motor vehicle body repairers. In Alberta, 81% of people employed in this classification work in the Other Services (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Repair, Personal, Religious and Other Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 6,500 Albertans are employed in the Motor vehicle body repairers occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 117 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As auto body technicians form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for auto body technicians. 

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates vary depending on the region but generally range from $17 to $26 an hour plus benefits for auto body preppers, and from $19 to $35 an hour plus benefits for auto body refinishers, repairers and technicians (2014 estimates).

  • Apprentice auto body preppers and refinishers earn at least 55% of the journeyperson wage in their place of employment in the first year and 70% in the second.
  • Apprentice auto body repairers earn at least 55% of the journeyperson wage in their place of employment in the first year, 70% in the second and 80% in the third. 
  • Apprentice auto body technicians earn at least 55% of the journeyperson wage in their place of employment in the first year, 70% in the second, 75% in the third and 80% in the fourth year.
Motor vehicle body repairers
NOC code: 7322

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $14.00 $42.00 $24.75 $24.00
Overall $17.95 $43.76 $29.44 $28.00
Top $20.00 $50.00 $34.14 $31.50

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

66%
66%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

63%
63%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

20%
20%

2015 Vacancy Rate

7%
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Mechanics
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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