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Career and Education Opportunities for Auto Body Mechanics in San Diego, California

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for auto body mechanics in the San Diego, California area. About 15,300 people are currently employed as auto body mechanics in California. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 7% to about 16,300 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for auto body mechanics are expected to grow by about 0.5%. In general, auto body mechanics repair and refinish automotive vehicle bodies and straighten vehicle frames.

Income for auto body mechanics is about $18 hourly or $39,230 per year on average in California. Nationally, their income is about $17 hourly or $37,040 per year. Compared with people working in the overall category of Automotive, people working as auto body mechanics in California earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Automotive nationally.

There are sixty schools of higher education in the San Diego area, including one within twenty-five miles of San Diego where you can get a degree to start your career as an auto body mechanic. The most common level of education for auto body mechanics is a high school diploma or GED. It will take only a short time to learn to be an auto body mechanic if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Auto Body Mechanic

Auto Body Mechanic video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, auto body mechanics repair and refinish automotive vehicle bodies and straighten vehicle frames.

Auto body mechanics file, grind, sand and smooth filled or repaired surfaces, using power tools and hand tools. They also sand body areas to be painted and cover bumpers, windows, and trim with masking tape or paper to safeguard them from the paint. Equally important, auto body mechanics have to remove damaged sections of vehicles using metal-cutting guns, air grinders and wrenches, and install replacement parts using wrenches or welding equipment. They are often called upon to position dolly blocks against surfaces of dented areas and beat opposite surfaces to remove dents, using hammers. They are expected to mix polyester resins and hardeners to be used in restoring damaged areas. Finally, auto body mechanics fit and secure windows, vinyl roofs, and metal trim to vehicle bodies, using caulking guns and mallets.

Every day, auto body mechanics are expected to be able to distinguish between colors. They need to visualize how things come together and can be organized. It is also important that they twist and stretch their arms and legs to get work done.

It is important for auto body mechanics to cut and tape plastic separating film to outside repair areas to avoid damaging surrounding surfaces during repair procedure, and remove tape and wash surfaces after fixes are complete. They are often called upon to fill small dents that cannot be worked out with plastic or solder. They also remove upholstery, accessories, electrical window-and-seat-operating equipment, and trim to get access to vehicle bodies and fenders. They are sometimes expected to fit and weld replacement parts into place, using wrenches and welding equipment, and grind down welds to smooth them, using power grinders and other tools. Somewhat less frequently, auto body mechanics are also expected to inspect damage reports, ready or review repair cost estimates, and plan work to be performed.

They also have to be able to remove small pits and dimples in body metal using pick hammers and punches and cut openings in vehicle bodies for the installation of customized windows, using templates and power shears or chisels. And finally, they sometimes have to soak fiberglass matting in resin mixtures, and apply layers of matting over repair areas to specified thicknesses.

Like many other jobs, auto body mechanics must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Diego include:

  • Auto Glass Installer. Replace or repair broken windshields and window glass in motor vehicles.
  • Auto Mechanic. Repair automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles. Master mechanics repair virtually any part on the vehicle or specialize in the transmission system.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Auto Body Mechanic Training

Palomar College - San Marcos, CA

Palomar College, 1140 W. Mission, San Marcos, CA 92069-1487. Palomar College is a large college located in San Marcos, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 28,093 students. Palomar College has less than one year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated two, zero, and zero students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Master Collision Repair & Refinishing Technician: The ASE Collision Repair Test Series includes one test for paint refinishers and three other tests for repair technicians, covering non-structural damage repair, structural damage repair, and vehicle mechanical and electrical system repair.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

Collision Repair and Refinish: Damage Analysis and Estimating : The ASE Damage Analysis and Estimating (B6) Test complements the other tests in the Collision Repair Test series that identify and recognize collision repair technicians and refinishers.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

Undercar Specialist: Exhaust Systems: Successfully passing test X1 will certify you as an undercar specialist in exhaust systems.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

Collision Repair and Refinish: Painting and Refinishing Technician: Successfully passing test B2 will certify you in collision repair and refinish: painting and refinishing.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

Collision Repair and Refinish: Non-Structural Analysis and Damage Repair: Successfully passing test B3 will certify you in collision repair and refinish: non-structural analysis and damage repair.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

Collision Repair and Refinish: Structural Analysis and Damage Repair: Successfully passing test B4 will certify you in collision repair and refinish: structural analysis and damage repair.

For more information, see the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Diego, California

San Diego, California
San Diego, California photo by FlickreviewR

San Diego is situated in San Diego County, California. It has a population of over 1,279,329, which has grown by 4.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in San Diego, 141, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Diego are valued at $323,700 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, six hundred forty-one new homes were constructed in San Diego, down from seven hundred forty-eight the previous year.

The three big industries for women in San Diego are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 35.0% of San Diego residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.4%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in San Diego is 10.5%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of San Diego residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Penasquitos Nazarene Church, Peace Lutheran Church and Paul E Kidd African Methodist Episcopal Church are some of the churches located in San Diego. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

San Diego is home to the Zlac Rowing Club and the Rancho Los Penasquitos Golf Course as well as Adobe Bluffs Park and John F Kennedy Park. Shopping malls in the area include San Diego Factory Outlet Shopping Center, San Carlos Shopping Center and Montgomery Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to San Diego can choose from Best Western Posada at the Yac, Beachfront San Diego and Banana Bungalow Hostel San Diego for temporary stays in the area.