This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Automotive refinishers prepare vehicle surfaces, match and mix colours and apply paint to vehicles.
Automotive refinishers usually earn
$20-$30 per hour
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay varies depending on qualifications and experience.
- Apprentices may start out on the minimum apprentice wage, the minimum wage, or a little more.
- Qualified automotive refinishers usually earn between $20 and $30 an hour.
- Self employed automotive refinishers and those in roles that involve more responsibility or skill can earn more than this.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Automotive refinishers may do some or all of the following:
- discuss vehicle painting options with customers or managers
- prepare vehicles for painting
- select and mix paints
- sand vehicles to prepare for painting
- apply paint
- buff and polish finished paintwork.
Skills and knowledge
Automotive refinishers need to have:
- knowledge of how to prepare a vehicle for painting
- knowledge of vehicle painting techniques
- knowledge of paint types and colours and how to use them effectively
- colour-matching and spray-painting skills.
Automotive refinishers who run their own business need small business skills.
- usually work regular business hours
- work in paint and panel workshops and in vehicle paint-shops
- work in conditions that may be noisy and fumey.
What's the job really like?
Emma Keightly - Automotive Refinisher
How did you get into your job?
"It wasn't planned at all. I had a one-day placement at a paint shop down the road as part of the course, and I ended up working part-time while I was at school. Then it just progressed into full-time work."
What does the job involve?
"Because I am still learning, my main job at the moment is priming the cars after the panelbeaters have worked with them. I clean off rust and dirt to get the cars ready for painting. It can be a bit repetitive, but once I have more experience I will do more painting on the cars. It’s a gradual process because there's so much to learn.
What do you like most about it?
"It's cool to see the transformation of a car from being completely covered in rust to the finished job."
What's the hardest part?
"Colour matching is one of the hardest things to learn. People can explain it to you as much as they want, but it takes a lot of time to fully understand it."
Any future plans?
"I'd like to do something more creative, like airbrushing, or maybe one day own my own paint shop."
Rowan talks about life as a car finisher - 1.11 mins. (Video courtesy of Got a Trade? Got it Made!)
The best thing about the job is the reward you get at the end with all the preparation and all the hard work, the final coat of clear is the most rewarding thing, and having your name on that paint job.
It’s great earning while you’re learning because you get a bit of a kick-start in life. You know with the uni students going to uni they have to spend thousands of dollars on student loans and stuff like that, and I am probably going to be buying a house sooner rather than later in life.
When I look back at the decision to do the apprenticeship I think it was a good decision because after having this qualification you’ve always got it under your belt. You can go overseas and it always comes with you, that qualification is always going to be there. I’ve got it made because I get paid while I’m learning and it’s something that I really enjoy.
I’m Rowan, I’ve got a trade and I’ve got it made.
To become a qualified automotive refinisher you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a Level 4 National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Body) with a strand in refinishing. This involves on-the-job training and book work and is done through MITO.
Entry skills course useful
Completing the Level 2 National Certificate in Motor Industry (Entry Skills) is recommended before beginning an apprenticeship.
Many employers prefer apprentice automotive refinishers to have at least three years of secondary education. Useful subjects include English and maths.
Students can also take part in a secondary school automotive training programme called Startup, which is run by MITO and provides a pathway for students into the automotive industry.
The programme includes both theory and practical components so students can gain NCEA credits as well as practical work experience. Students can also gain the Level 1 National Certificate in Motor Industry (Foundation Skills).
Automotive refinishers need to be:
- accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to follow instructions
- able to concentrate for long periods.
Useful experience includes:
- working in an automotive workshop or in panelbeating
- work as a sign writer or industrial spray-painter.
Automotive refinishers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination and normal colour vision. It is recommended that automotive refinishers do not suffer from breathing problems or dermatitis.
Find out more about training
- 0800 882121 - email@example.com - www.mito.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates the numbers of automotive refinishers remained fairly stable between 2010 and 2012.
However, motor industry sources indicate the overall number of automotive refinishers is likely to fall in the long term. This is because more people are replacing rather than repairing car parts after they have had accidents.
Types of employers
Most automotive refinishers work for:
- specialised collision repair businesses and car painters
- general automotive workshops that deal with cars, boats and trucks
- motor vehicle dealerships.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- MITO, 'Investment Plan 2014', 2014.
Progression and specialisations
Automotive refinishers may start off as employees before establishing their own businesses and becoming self employed.
Last updated 18 April 2017