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Auto Body Technology Associate's Degree

Turn your manual skills and passion for working with cars into a money-making proposition. Find out the curriculum of an associate's degree program in auto body technology. Also, see the potential salary and employment projection for automotive body repairers.

What Is An Auto Body Technology Associate's Degree?

An auto body technology associate's degree is a 2-year, 63-70 credit program found at many community and technical colleges. Most auto body associate's degrees are Associate of Applied Science programs in auto body repair technology, automotive collision repair or collision repair and refinishing. These programs are designed to teach you skills in repairing the frames and refinishing the exteriors of cars and trucks that have dents, scrapes or major collision damage.

Courses you're likely to encounter in an auto body degree program include damage diagnosis, welding and cutting, metal finishing and body filling, plastics and adhesives, frames and chassis, glass repair, collision technology and auto body painting. Programs include practical lab sections, and most include an internship or co-op work-study experience. An appropriate work-study plan is usually developed between the school and a school-partnered, independent employer. Because of the need for hands-on training, there are no online programs leading to an associate's degree in auto body technology.

Common CoursesMetal finishing, frames and chassis, collision technology, auto body painting, plastics and adhesives
Benefits of ProgramIncrease employability, strengthen math and reading skills important to the field
CertificationWhile not required, being certified through ASE may be beneficial to career
Median Salary (2018)* $41,330 (for automotive body and related repairers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 9% (for automotive body and related repairers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Why Should I Earn It?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although you can learn on the job, you stand a better chance of being hired if you complete a formal training program (www.bls.gov). Though high schools and vocational schools offer 6-month or 1-year training programs, associate's degree programs include general education coursework in math, English and business. These courses may help you with math and reading skills, which the BLS says are necessary to understand assembly directions and accurately measure vehicle parts.

What Else Do I Need?

Although there's no legal requirement for certification, becoming certified may help your career. Certification is offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which is considered the automotive industry standard for assessing competence. You can qualify to sit for one or more ASE auto body certification exams if you have two years of auto body repair experience or if you have two years of formal training and one year of experience (www.ase.com). Although certification is voluntary, the BLS states that you may need national certification to advance beyond an entry-level position. This is particularly true if you're located in an urban area.

What's My Career Outlook?

In 2019, the BLS projected that employment growth for automotive body and glass repairers would increase eight percent from 2016-2026. If you have formal training, the BLS expects your job opportunities to be excellent due to the increased number of vehicles on the road and the need to replace retiring workers. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $41,330 in 2018.