Collision Repair Technician
Kaihangarau Tinana Waka
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Collision repair technicians repair and replace damaged body parts of cars and other vehicles.
Collision repair technicians usually earn
$17-$35 per hour
Source: Collision Repair Association, 2017.
Pay for collision repair technicians varies depending on qualifications and experience.
- Apprentices may start out on the training minimum wage, the minimum wage, or a little more.
- After one to two years they usually earn between $17 and $19 an hour.
- After two to five years they usually earn between $20 and $25 an hour.
- Collision repair technicians with over five years' experience can earn between $25 and $35 an hour, and may receive other benefits.
- Very experienced collision repair technicians or those running their own business may earn more than this, but for those who are self-employed, income depends on the success of their business.
Source: Collision Repair Association, 2017.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Collision repair technicians may do some or all of the following:
- talk to customers about vehicle repairs, and estimate costs
- remove and replace parts to access repairs, or to allow for painting
- align and reshape damaged panels and frames
- carry out structural repairs using a chassis machine and 3D measuring equipment
- replace sections of vehicles and weld in replacements following manufacturers' instructions
- repair rust
- sand and prepare panels and parts for spray painting
- spray paint panels.
Skills and knowledge
Collision repair technicians need to have:
- knowledge of metals and vehicle parts
- skills in repairing, fitting and preparing vehicle panels and frames
- an understanding of mechanics
- some knowledge of spray-painting techniques.
Collision repair technicians who run their own businesses need small business skills.
Collision repair technicians:
- usually work regular business hours
- work in paint and collision repair workshops
- work in conditions that may be noisy and fumy, so they need to use protective equipment.
What's the job really like?
Rebecca explains her job as a collision repair apprentice – 1.19 mins. (Video courtesy of MTA)
[I do] panelbeating – lots of of bogging, stripping, full-on repairs, cut, weld.
I also even help out the painters a bit, help out the glass guys too and the auto-sparkies, so you do get a nice variety being the apprentice.
It's absolutely different every single day – you'll never get the dents the same, you'll never get the the same kind of car, never the same strip – it's really good.
So there is a lot of theory work to do for the apprenticeship – you really have to put your head into it. It doesn't help if you can do all the work but not have the piece of paper to show for it, you know?
Opportunities for women? It's a great opportunity – it's well worth it.
I plan to go learn how to air-brush, do some old-school cars, you know some hot rods, paint some dragsters!
I do wake up in the morning going, "Yep! I'm happy to go to work today." It is awesome.
There are no specific requirements to become a collision repair technician. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair may be useful.
To become a qualified collision repair technician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain one or both of:
- New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair and Automotive Refinishing (Level 3)
- New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair – Non-Structural Repair (Level 4).
MITO oversees collision repair technician apprenticeships.
No specific secondary education is required for this job, but many employers prefer apprentices to have at least three years of secondary education. Useful subjects include maths, construction and mechanical technologies, and English.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Ignition and Accelerate StartUp programmes run by MITO are a good way to gain industry experience.
StartUp students can gain:
- up to 42 NCEA credits
- practical work experience
- National Certificate in Motor Industry – Foundation Skills (Level 1).
These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
Collision repair technicians need to be:
- motivated, responsible and honest
- careful, patient and accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to follow instructions and ask questions
- able to work independently
- good at problem solving and basic maths.
Useful experience for collision repair technicians includes:
- experience with, and passion for, vehicles
- spray painting
- work in an automotive industry trade such as automotive engineering
- car grooming
- metal fabrication or car restoration
- sheet metal work.
Find out more about training
- 0800 882 121 - www.mito.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
More cars on the road leading to higher demand for collision repair technicians
Demand for collision repair technicians is expected to grow due to:
- an increase in car ownership rates and a corresponding increase in crashes, which then require the services of collision repair technicians
- not enough people completing apprenticeships in collision repair.
About 2,500 collision repair technicians work in New Zealand, but this is not enough to meet the demand and employers find it difficult to get staff.
As a result, the job of panelbeater (also known as collision repair technician) appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list.
This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled collision repair technicians from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Types of employers varied
Most collision repair technicians work for:
- specialised collision repair workshops
- general automotive workshops that deal with cars, boats and trucks
- motor vehicle dealerships such as Ford or Toyota.
About 17% of collision repair technicians are self-employed, and 11% employ other staff.
- 1 News Now, 'The Industry's Still Tarnished with that Dirty Brush – Panelbeaters Cry Out for Apprentices', January 2017, (www.tvnz.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission), 2016.
- Pritchard, N, general manager, Collision Repair Association, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, October 2017.
Progression and specialisations
Collision repair technicians may progress to set up their own business, or become assessors, tutors, or estimators.
Some collision repair technicians specialise in a particular aspect of the job, such as body work or painting.
Last updated 5 January 2018