Vehicle body repairer

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Sandra Paul is a vehicle refinisher. She works in the bodyshop of a large car dealer in Doncaster.

What does your job involve?

My work involves repairing minor accident damage on customers' vehicles, preparing vehicles for repainting after body repairs have been completed, and mixing and applying the paint.

What kind of repairs do you do?

I work on all sorts of repairs. For instance, today I've already replaced the front bumper bar on a silver Mercedes C200 that had been damaged in an accident, and a Ford Fiesta came in with a rust complaint under the weather-strips.

How do you repair damage?

For the Mercedes, I put the new bumper on a trestle and looked up the colour code. The standard colour shade seemed a little dark so I prepared a test card using a lighter formula that I found to be a perfect match. The new bumper and trims were cleaned and tacked ready for painting. I then mixed the colour and applied the paint, adding two coats of lacquer.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I use a paint mixing scheme to ensure perfect colour matching and paint spraying equipment, including a spray booth which is used when large areas of a vehicle are resprayed. I also use specialist hand tools and I wear full personal protective equipment, including an air feed mask.

What hours do you work?

I work from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

What attracted you to the motor trade?

I became interested when I went on a work experience placement at school. I was determined to make this my career and when I left, I registered with Doncaster Motor Trades Group Training Association (GTA) on its work-based learning programme.

Did you find it easy to get a placement?

Not initially. I was sent to a number of interviews and I was usually the only female there. Eventually, though, I got a placement in a bodyshop.

What did your training involve?

I attended a training centre one day a week whilst working in the bodyshop. It soon became obvious that I enjoyed working as a vehicle painter. I did NVQs in Vehicle Body & Paint Operations (Refinishing) at Levels 2 and 3. I am now a permanent member of the paint team, working with minimum supervision on all types of preparation and painting.

What skills and qualities do you need to succeed as a body repairer?

You have to be a perfectionist, with an eye for detail and colour. You must also be patient and a reliable team member.

What do you like best about your work?

I take great pride in my work and seeing the end results is the best part of my job.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to become a fully-qualified vehicle painter, with the long-term objective of running my own bodyshop.

Route to becoming a vehicle body repairer

  • GCSEs.
  • Work-based learning programme.
  • IMI Vehicle Body & Paint Operations (Refinishing) NVQ Levels 2 and 3.

Sandra's body repairer tips

  • Look at tasters of work experience placements and try out the work.
  • Research what the job involves and its long-term future.
  • Persevere – don't become disillusioned if you are rejected at interviews.

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Salary of a body repairer

  • A qualified body repairer/refinisher earns between £18,000 and £30,000.

Getting in

  • The most common route into this work is through an Apprenticeship or work-based learning. National and regional training organisations can help with Apprenticeships and training placements.
  • Relevant qualifications for vehicle body repairers or refinishers include: an IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) Certificate/Diploma in Vehicle Body and Paint Operations and an IMI National in Body Repair and Refinishing, City & Guilds Progression Awards in Automotive Vehicle Servicing and Repairs, NVQs/SVQs in Vehicle Body and Paint Operations at Levels 2 and 3, and a BTEC First Diploma in Vehicle Service and Technology (Body and Paint).

Modified: 16 June 2013

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