Panel beaters, or vehicle body repairers, are responsible for the repair of the bodywork of vehicles. You will use various metalwork techniques to remove dents, repair rusted section, and fix panels together. You will need to finish the bodywork in a way that matches the rest of the vehicle.
This type of work is usually carried out in a workshop or in an automotive garage. The role is usually on a shift basis, so you will need to be prepared to work during the evenings and sometimes at weekends.
If you are practical, have an eye for detail, and have an interest in the automotive industry, a career as a panel beater could be for you. Read on to find out more.
What does a panel beater do?
Your day-to-day tasks might include:
- Making assessments of damaged vehicles, deciding how best to repair it and estimating the time and cost for the repair.
- Mending rusted parts of a vehicle’s bodywork.
- Removing any dents in panels.
- Repairing minor scratches, or making replacement panels.
- Welding new or repaired panels into place.
- Finishing the repair in a way that matches the rest of the bodywork or preparing the surface for a paint sprayer.
- Keeping records of all work carried out.
What qualifications do you need to become a panel beater?
There are several routes you could take to become a panel beater. Employers will usually require GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4). You can also study for qualifications at college level in subjects such as Vehicle Maintenance and Repair. City & Guilds offer several relevant courses.
What skills do you need to become a panel beater?
Communication skills: You will need to be able to communicate with customers, explaining the work to be done and the cost.
Dexterity: You will need good hand-to-eye coordination for most of your tasks and the ability to use a range of tools.
Eye for detail: You will need to have good attention to detail, especially when finishing the repair to match the rest of the bodywork.
Practical mindset: You will need a logical way of thinking to work out the best way to make a repair.
How much does a panel beater earn?
Starting salary: £15,000 – £18,000
Experienced: £20,000 – £25,000
These figures are a guide and come from the National Careers Service.
Take a look at the map below to find out what the average panel beater salary is in your area. The figures come from 2017 InAutomotive data.
What are your career prospects as a panel beater?
As you take on more responsibility and build up your experience, you could supervise other panel beaters as a manager. You could also become an automotive technician or, with further training, a mechanic.
John Fitzgerald is a retail manager at Johnsons Hyundai, based in Bootle. He’s worked there for 2 years and has kindly taken the time to share a day in his shoes… Looking for retail manager roles in the automotive world? Click here to find a job you love...
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