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Career and Education Opportunities for Auto Body Mechanics in Detroit, Michigan

Auto body mechanics can find many career and educational opportunities in the Detroit, Michigan area. There are currently 7,750 jobs for auto body mechanics in Michigan and this is projected to grow by 7% to about 8,280 jobs by 2016. 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.

Auto body mechanics earn about $19 per hour or $41,280 per year on average in Michigan and about $17 per hour or $37,040 per year on average nationally. Incomes for auto body mechanics are better than in the overall category of Automotive in Michigan, and better than the overall Automotive category nationally.

There are two schools within twenty-five miles of Detroit where you can study to be an auto body mechanic, among seventy-three schools of higher education total in the Detroit area. Given that the most common education level 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 Detroit 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.
  • Machine Repairman. Lubricate machinery, change parts, or perform other routine machinery maintenance.
  • Mechanical Door Repairer. Install, service, or repair opening and closing mechanisms of automatic doors and hydraulic door closers. Includes garage door mechanics.
  • Medical Equipment Repairer. Test, adjust, or repair biomedical or electromedical equipment.
  • Motorcycle Mechanic. Diagnose, adjust, or overhaul motorcycles, scooters, or similar motorized vehicles.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Auto Body Mechanic Training

Washtenaw Community College - Ann Arbor, MI

Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E Huron River Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48105-4800. Washtenaw Community College is a large college located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,906 students. Washtenaw Community College has a less than one year and a one to two year program in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated five and fifteen students respectively in 2008.

Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills, MI

Oakland Community College, 2480 Opdyke Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-2266. Oakland Community College is a large college located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 24,957 students. Oakland Community College has a one to two year program in Autobody/Collision and Repair Technology/Technician which graduated eight 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: Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan photo by Durova

Detroit is located in Wayne County, Michigan. It has a population of over 912,062, which has shrunk by 4.1% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Detroit, 86, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Detroit are priced at $108,900 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, eighty-five new homes were built in Detroit, down from one hundred fifty-four the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Detroit are health care, educational services, and transportation equipment. For men, it is transportation equipment, construction, and administrative and support and waste management services. The average commute to work is about 28 minutes. More than 11.0% of Detroit residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 4.2%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Detroit is 27.0%, which is greater than Michigan's average of 14.3%.

The percentage of Detroit residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.7%, is less than both the national and state average. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Detroit is home to the Memorial Park Marina and the Detroit Golf Club as well as Chene Park and Mallett Playground. Visitors to Detroit can choose from Corktown Inn, Clark's Motel and Days Inn of Downtown Detroit for temporary stays in the area.