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Career and Education Opportunities for Auto Body Mechanics in Wichita, Kansas

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for auto body mechanics in the Wichita, Kansas area. The national trend for auto body mechanics sees this job pool growing by about 0.5% over the next eight years. Auto body mechanics generally repair and refinish automotive vehicle bodies and straighten vehicle frames.

A person working as an auto body mechanic can expect to earn about $16 per hour or $35,130 annually on average in Kansas and about $17 per hour or $37,040 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for auto body mechanics are better than earnings in the general category of Automotive in Kansas and better than general Automotive category earnings nationally.

The Wichita area is home to nineteen schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Wichita where you can get a degree as an auto body mechanic. Auto body mechanics usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so 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 Wichita 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.
  • Farm Equipment Mechanic. Diagnose, adjust, or overhaul farm machinery and vehicles, such as tractors, harvesters, and irrigation systems.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Auto Body Mechanic Training

Butler Community College - El Dorado, KS

Butler Community College, 901 S Haverhill Rd, El Dorado, KS 67042-3280. Butler Community College is a medium sized college located in El Dorado, Kansas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,190 students. Butler Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated six and zero students respectively in 2008.

Hutchinson Community College - Hutchinson, KS

Hutchinson Community College, 1300 N Plum St, Hutchinson, KS 67501. Hutchinson Community College is a small college located in Hutchinson, Kansas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,853 students. Hutchinson Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated seven and three students respectively in 2008.

Wichita Area Technical College - Wichita, KS

Wichita Area Technical College, 301 South Grove, Wichita, KS 67211-2099. Wichita Area Technical College is a small college located in Wichita, Kansas. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 1,842 students. Wichita Area Technical College has a one to two year program in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated fifteen students 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: Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas photo by Pacoperez6

Wichita is located in Sedgwick County, Kansas. It has a population of over 366,046, which has grown by 6.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Wichita, 78, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Wichita cost $106,900 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, 1,012 new homes were constructed in Wichita, down from 1,248 the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Wichita are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is transportation equipment, construction, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 18 minutes. More than 25.3% of Wichita residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Wichita is 8.8%, which is greater than Kansas's average of 6.3%.

The percentage of Wichita residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 46.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Mizpah Baptist Church, Christ the King Lutheran Church and Christ the King Roman Catholic Church are some of the churches located in Wichita. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Wichita is home to the Pleasant Valley and the Wichita Plaza as well as Hyde Park and Watson Park. Shopping centers in the area include Central Heights Shopping Mall, Airpark Shopping Center and Sweetbriar Shopping Center. Visitors to Wichita can choose from Afton Motel, Hampton Inn Wichita-East and Corral Motel for temporary stays in the area.