Panel beaters repair damage to metal, plastic and fibreglass bodywork on vehicles. They also make and form vehicle panels using machines or hand tools.
Personal requirements of a Panel Beater
- Enjoy practical and manual activities
- Able to work with hand tools and machines
- Good hand-eye coordination
- Able to visualise the end product
- Normal colour vision
- Aptitude for technical activities
Education & Training for a Panel Beater
To become a panel beater you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in Automotive Body Repair Technology. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.
Duties & Tasks of a Panel Beater
Panel beaters may perform the following tasks:
- remove damaged panels and components by unbolting or cutting them away
- repair damaged body panels with specialist tools and equipment
- use measuring, mechanical and hydraulic equipment to restore vehicles to factory clearances
- cut and join replacement sections or damaged panels using correct welding procedures
- repair dents with plastic fillers, and file, grind and sand repaired surfaces using power and hand tools
- fit the repaired panels on the framework of the vehicle and refit body hardware, such as door locks and door trims
- replace badly damaged sections with new or second-hand panels
- realign chassis and body frames using chassis aligners and measuring systems
- remove and replace accident-related mechanical items
- remove and replace auto-electric components
- help vehicle body builders to build custom-designed, speciality or vintage vehicles
- assist with spray painting vehicles.
Working conditions for a Panel Beater
Panel beaters work in workshops and wear protective clothing.
Employment Opportunities for a Panel Beater
Panel beaters mainly work for crash repairers, new and used car dealers and motor vehicle manufacturers. A few work for motor body builders on the construction of new bodywork.
Panel beaters may progress to supervisory and management positions, especially in larger organisations. They may also establish their own motor vehicle repair businesses.
Others may move across from panel beating to related occupations such as vehicle painting and welding. Some become loss assessors in insurance companies or take up sales positions in industrial machinery and equipment.
Employment opportunities depend on the number of cars on the road, the number of accidents and technological change, especially in vehicle body structures and materials.