Auto body repair technicians received a mean $19.99 per hour or $41,570 per year as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% of auto body repair techs earn more than $31.27 per hour or $65,030 per year, while the worst-paid 10% make just $10.83 per hour or $22,530 per year. To make this money, technicians examine damage, prepare cost estimates and plan the work. They remove defective parts, hammer out or patch dents and other minor body damage, weld or attach replacement parts, sand and buff surfaces, and apply new paint and other coatings to restored areas.
Auto body repairers can learn their trade in two ways. The first is without any formal education under the guidance of a more experienced worker or the shop supervisor. The second is through a formal postsecondary training program that can last from six months to two years. Although it usually takes only a year to learn the basics, workers typically need three or four years of practical experience to become fully qualified. Continuing education is a must to keep up with fast-changing automobile technology. Certification is not required but is available from national organizations, and can make jobs easier to find.
Of the 131,040 auto body repair techs that worked in the country in 2011, more than 70 percent were employed by automotive repair and maintenance shops. Pay here ran a mean of $19.64 per hour or $40,850 per year. Car dealers provided more than 20 percent of the jobs with mean salaries of $21.04 per hour or $43,760 per year. Wholesalers of motor vehicles and their parts rounded out the top three, averaging $18.96 per hour or $39,440 per year. The businesses with the best salaries were couriers and express delivery services, which paid a mean $31.92 per hour or $66,400 per year, though those businesses employed just 70 techs.
The state with the most employment for the profession was Texas, the second-most populous in the United States. It contained over 7 percent of the jobs at mean wages of $19.67 per hour or $40,920. With almost the same number of workers, California, the most populous state, ranked second for opportunities and had mean salaries at $21.40 per hour or $44,520 per year. Illinois, New York and Ohio rounded out the top five. The states with the least employment for auto repair techs were North Dakota, Vermont, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Iowa. In metropolitan areas, Chicago topped the list for jobs with almost 4 percent of the positions at a mean pay of $21.36 per hour or $44,430 per year.