Most full auto body or paint repair technicians are paid on what are called flat-rate hours. Publications that auto body shops utilize such as All-Data will state the number of labor hours it takes to repair certain elements on a vehicle. For example, if you were repairing a bumper and a hood and the All-Data manual said the bumper would take 2 hours and the hood 1.5 hours, then you’d gain a total of 3.5 flat rate hours. Those flat-rate hours are multiplied by your flat-rate wage. If you had a wage of $20 per flat-rate hour, you would receive $70 for that job.
The flat-rate wage offered for newbies in the world of auto body repair is usually between $17 and $22 per flat-rate hour. As you gain more experience your auto body job prospect wages will be increased, sometimes to as high as $25-$28 per flat-rate hour—especially if you become ASE certified.
In a busy auto body shop, technicians can expect to complete up to 120 flat-rate hours per a two-week pay period (biweekly). If you’re at the low end of the flat-rate wage, say $20, that can amount to over $60,000 per year. More experienced technicians that are certified can garnish and demand a much higher flat-rate hour—at independent body shops with much work.
Chain auto body shops will not offer as high a flat-rate wage as independent shops. The reason? Chain auto body shops are more of an assembly-line atmosphere where more than one technician may work on one job and, therefore, they often hire technicians with only one experience level in paint, body, or frame repairs.
Independent shops, on the other hand, look for ASE-certified auto body and paint technicians that have full knowledge of paint, body, and frame repairs, and those with a little mechanical experience are even more valuable.
If you feel the auto body repair world is right for you, do consider apprenticeships, seek out programs in high school or community colleges, or enroll in an onsite auto body college. The wages are high for experienced technicians and proper training can make your auto body job prospects much better if you have the proper education behind you. Finally, car accidents are inevitable, so the need for auto body technicians is basically a recession-proof field.
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Image Credit: http://lagunaautobody.com/images/paint_booth.jpg