Steps to Get A Columbus Auto Body Repair Certification
In the United States alone, the automotive industry maintains over 950,000 steady employees. Also, for every 60 million vehicles produced, the industry will need to hire 9 million professionals and technicians. Through these stats, it’s clear that a future in the automotive industry has huge potential.
But where do you start? And how do you get an auto body repair certification?
Well, let’s lay out the progressive steps you’ll likely take to achieve a certification in auto body repair:
1 – Do You Have a High School Diploma or GED?
First things first: you’ll need to meet the admissions requirements for your institute and program of choice. It’s very, very rare to find a technical school that doesn’t require a high school diploma or GED.
If you already have one, you can move on to step two. However, if you don’t have a diploma or GED, you’ll want to acquire one first. For many programs, you can take a GED online. Depending on how much time you can commit to studying, you can acquire a GED in less than 3 months.
2 – Choose a School or Institute
Now you can choose a school or institute that meets you preferences and location. Below, I’ve provided a list of some potential school options that offer collision repair / auto body repair certifications and diplomas.
•Universal Technical Institute
•New York Automotive and Diesel Institute
•Gateway Community College
When you’re looking for schools, compare tuitions costs, coursework expectations, program information, and any other addition data that’s necessary. Also, make sure you check reviews of the schools. Receiving feedback from current or previous students is a great way to gauge the effectiveness and integrity of the institute or program. In addition, make sure the school is accredited. The last thing you want is to receive a certificate that isn’t accepted in most workplaces.
3 – Choose a Program
In the auto repair industry, there’s many program options. For instance, students can take an auto collision repair program that teaches the basics of welding, painting, and manipulating or shaping metal. Alternatively, prospective students can also purse an autobody technician program that offers similar coursework.
Many program options offer very similar training but include a different program name. So, when you’re browsing through options, make sure you read the program overview to ensure you’re choosing an option that fulfills your expectations.
Most institutes have online guides and platforms where you can contact admissions / program specialists. Talking with an employee of the school is a great way to gain information and ask any lingering questions.
4 – Figure out Your Finances
School can be expensive, especially in today’s world where more and more Americans are pursuing some form of post-secondary or technical education. However, there are measures in place to make school more affordable. Most institutes offer some form of financial aid or scholarships. For instance, the Universal Technical Institute offers over 20 different scholarship options for their students.
The cost of additional education can depend on a variety of factors, including:
•Institution (size and prestige)
•Amount of extra fees (such as gym fees, book expenses, etc.)
•Program length and complexity
Although program costs vary largely, you can generally expect to pay at least $7,000 for your tuition. So, if you don’t have the necessary amount in your savings, then consider applying for student loans. Although this is not a preferable option, it’s an additional path that is available if you need it.
5 – Complete Your Course Work and Hands-on Training
Once you have successfully enrolled in your program, it’s time to start your course work and hands-on training. Depending on your institute, program lengths can last anywhere between 1 -2 years. However, in that time, you’ll acquire necessary training to excel in the workplace.
Most schools offer about 40% of hands-on training or ab’ work, while the remainder of the course entails classroom learning and examinations. Keep in mind, that every institute is different and some may offer more or less hands-on training. However, most effective learning takes place when you’re directly implementing your new skills. So, look for a program that offers at least 40% of this training.
Here’s a list of some of the skills you can expect to learn with your certificate:
•Removing and installing automotive glass
•Body and frame repair
During your training, you may also require additional certifications that will be valuable for your automotive career.
6 – Receive Your Certificate
After all that hard work, it’s finally time to achieve your certificate. Throughout your training, you’ll likely be tested on lab performance, professionalism, and coursework. Also, some institutes require you to pass an exam before you receive your certificate or diploma. For instance, Gateway Community College requires their students to pass the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair certification exam before they can achieve their formal education.
7 – What’s Next?
After you receive your certification, it’s time to start the job hunt. This next step may sound daunting, but keep in mind that by 2026, approximately 172,000 automotive jobs will open. Also, remember the statistics I provided at the beginning of this article.
Another positive: auto body techs can expect to make a median salary of $41, 540.