Are you interested in pursuing a collision repair career? Want to find out more about what's involved in doing this type of work from someone who has direct experience in the field? Robert Ashby, owner and operator of Apex Collision in Mobile, AL took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to share insights about his experiences in the profession with LoveToKnow Jobs editor Mary White. Find out more about working in automotive repair in this exclusive expert interview.
What is Collision Repair?
Individuals who work in this field perform a variety of tasks related to repairing vehicles that have been damaged in collisions, such as dent removal, straightening bent automobile bodies, and replacing parts that are to damage to fix. Depending on the specialty of a particular shop, professionals in this field may work on cars, trucks, tractor trailers, or other types of vehicles.
Insight from Robert Ashby with Apex Collision
Q: How did you decide to pursue collision repair as a profession?
Ashby: I enjoyed working on cars as a kid and thought it was more practical than a career as a starving artist.
Q: What is your favorite part of working in the collision repair business?
Ashby: The ability to see "before and after" in a relatively short period of time is very rewarding to me. I also enjoy helping my customers get through a potentially stressful situation.
Q: What are the most challenging aspects of working in this profession?
Ashby: When customers come to see me they are usually having a bad day. It is our challenge to help turn it around.
Preparing for a Collision Repair Career
Q: What is the best way for someone who wants to work in collision repair to get started?
Ashby: Most people get started by completing a program at a trade school.
Q: What type of training is required for getting started in this field? While there are numerous certifications (such as ASE and I-CAR), many of the necessary skills are acquired on the job. Attending a trade school helps with the basics, but there's no substitute for getting practical experience working an entry-level position as an apprentice or helper in a repair shop.
Q: What characteristics do auto body repair shop owners look for in employees?
Ashby: Shop owners really look for employees who have good attitudes and desire to learn. Most of the time, we hire workers for attitude and then work on teaching and/or honing the necessary skills.
Q: What final words of wisdom do you offer for individuals thinking about entering this field?
Ashby: The right person can earn a nice living in this business, if the individual is willing to pay some dues and keep an open mind. Completing a collision repair program at a trade school will get you the basics and prepare you for an apprentice level position. From there you need to find a good shop that wants to invest in teaching technicians for the future.
Ready to Get Started?
Are you ready to get started preparing for a collision repair career? It's best to start by completing a formal training program. Doing so will provide you with skills necessary to be considered for work in this field and may open doors to apprenticeship and entry level employment opportunities for you.
Depending on the location where you live or want to attend school, you may be able to find a training program at a local community college or trade and vocational school. There are also a number of private schools that specialize in providing training for people who want to work in the field of automotive repair.
Some well-known educational programs for this profession that you may want to investigate are: