A panel beater typically performs motor vehicle body repairs after a collision occurs. Preparation for this career should begin in high school by taking classes in auto shop, mathematics, and computer science. Additional vocational training from a trade school or community college may also be required to become a panel beater. Most employers require completion of an on-the-job training program along with regional certification before hiring. After you become a panel beater, employment can usually be found at an automobile dealership, collision repair center, or trucking company.
In order to become a panel beater, you should begin taking preparatory courses during high school. Most offer some type of auto shop class that provides instruction in the basics of automobile repair and rebuilding. These classes can give you a foundational knowledge of motor vehicle construction along with instruction in the use of common mechanic’s tools. You should also complete coursework in mathematics to prepare for future vocational training. Taking computer science courses will equip you with the skills needed to operate the computerized equipment utilized in this occupation.
Some companies will allow you to become a panel beater with only a high school diploma, but most employers prefer to hire candidates with additional vocational training. Specialized training can be obtained from a number of different trade schools and community colleges. This training is also offered by many automobile manufacturers through their regional dealerships. Most trade school certificates require one year of classwork, while community colleges typically offer a two-year associate’s degree program. Coursework for these programs typically includes instruction in damage assessment and materials properties, as well as structural repair and welding.
A certain amount of previous work experience is usually needed to become a panel beater. This hands-on experience can often be acquired through a college internship or summer job at a collision repair center. Many community colleges and trade schools offer work-study programs that allow you to receive on-the-job training during the day and classroom instruction at night. A postgraduate apprenticeship can also be completed to gain the necessary work experience. These apprenticeships usually last for two or three years and are often followed by a regional certification examination.
Employment can be found in a number of industries after completing the necessary educational and work experience requirements. Automobile dealerships, collision repair centers, and trucking companies frequently hire skilled, experienced panel beaters. Once employed, your typical duties may include pulling dents, straightening frames, and installing new body panels. You will utilize a variety of specialized equipment including angle grinders, pneumatic hammers, and welding machinery. In small shops, you may also be required to repaint damaged areas after repairs are complete.