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Autobody, Lighting, & Structural Tech This forum is brought to you by RPM Electronics in Burnaby.
Discussion about modifying your auotomotive lighting, retrofits, auto body, share projects, ideas, etc.


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Old 10-15-2014, 01:48 PM   #1
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Considering Career in Autobody... Anyone with insight?

Hi,

I'm considering a career in autobody. I want to go to VCC and take either Auto Collision Repair or Auto Refinishing Prep Technician. Which do you think is a better path in the long run career wise when it comes to being able to have a job and salary etc. Pros and cons of both trades.... Would be nice to hear from people that are actually in the trade themselves. I love working on cars too when it comes to the technical aspect of things. And I don't have a whole lot of knowledge so I thought it would be a good career choice so I could learn something that I can put to use in my own cars in the future or when I'm old. It will be nice to get paid to learn something I want to learn.
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Old 10-21-2014, 10:52 PM   #2
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If you can withstand 4 years apprenticeship...being the whipping boy and low wage.
Then yes theres a light at the end of the tunnel when u start making decent coin.
but that takes years of experience. Most dont cut it.
too much to explain. pm me ur specific question.
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Old 10-22-2014, 01:58 PM   #3
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If you are good at the trade yes, you will always have a job. I can think of 10+ shops right now looking for SKILLED technicians in repair or refinishing and going to be alot more demand for them in the near future. Is it going to be easy work, no. Looking at the 2 trades i believe the refinish aspect is alittle easier than the body side. So many different vehicles to learn to take apart and put back together not to mention all the other aspects, frame repair, wielding, suspension work, sheetmetal repair, aluminium repair, etc!
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:08 PM   #4
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I'm currently taking refinishing. It's a lot to take in (information wise). It's a lot quieter than collision though. All I see is them banging around, grinding and welding shit, sweating and removing and installing interior trim like it's a fucking jigsaw puzzle.

That being said, refinishing is REALLY technical and there's gobs of information you need to cram in. There's many, many variables for when you're spraying a car, mixing paint, assessing the substrate (surface of x). I'd say 90% of the work is in the prep.

TL;DR: Refinishing is easier, quieter and not as strenuous but there is A LOT to learn and remember.
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Old 11-26-2014, 11:06 AM   #5
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I'm curious about this too,
I'm thinking about switching to the body shop from service.. does anyone have experience at a dealership in the body shop?
I was a 2nd year auto mechanic apprentice back home but moved provinces and can't afford to start it all over but I want something hands on again.. so I need to weigh my options.

pros, cons, starting out costs- tools, etc... any info helps
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Old 01-15-2015, 06:50 PM   #6
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I've been doing it for 12 years now
It's the lowest paying trade out there

Teachers in vcc and bcit say its possible to rake in 100k a year

I have worked at many shops in my time and if u don't have a life outside work then it will be easy to bring home that kind of money.

Tools are the other thing, I've invested over 30k in them. Some things buy the big name brand. I have wasted money over the years buying cheap princess auto stuff
Some stuff is ok I've owned the same set of 10 dollar lordco screwdrivers for over 10 years

If you really enjoy working on cars then this trade will work out
If your passion for cars is just a hobby then I'd stay away from the trade
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Old 01-27-2015, 01:08 PM   #7
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If you can withstand 4 years apprenticeship...being the whipping boy and low wage.
Then yes theres a light at the end of the tunnel when u start making decent coin.
but that takes years of experience. Most dont cut it.
too much to explain. pm me ur specific question.
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Old 02-11-2015, 10:13 AM   #8
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I took the course at VCC, it's pretty neat.

When I actually did the real life portion of the course, I realised that it wasn't for me. It was worth it in the 80's when ICBC was oblivious and gave rediculous hours for jobs, but now it's hard to break even with jobs at flat rate. Not to mention that you'll be dealing with dirty, wet cars all of the time, being covered by bondo dust, and raging at poor engineering decisions made by OEM's. There is also a steep investment in tools, 99% of shops do not supply small hand and power tools, so you're going to be out a few thousand once you're done.

And poorly fitting jobber parts that ICBC refuses to replace with proper replacements and still makes you fix on the original R&R rate, oh god.

Become an aircraft mechanic, where you work in a relatively clean environment without breathing in bondo dust or dealing with cutting yourself on rust.

Last edited by Yodamaster; 02-11-2015 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 02-11-2015, 12:23 PM   #9
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Become an aircraft mechanic, where you work in a relatively clean environment without breathing in bondo dust or dealing with cutting yourself on rust.
Except that once you are done with training, there are practically no jobs available locally.

If you are willing to relocate to (major cities in) China, I think there is quite a high demand for qualified aircraft mechanic.
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Old 02-11-2015, 01:28 PM   #10
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I was doing it but after seeing how some guys can barely make 8 hours a day and work isn't consistent I decided I want something else. I don't want to have to worry about if my next paycheck is going to be big enough to cover all my bills or not. However the shop im working at now I see guys make consistent 80+ hours in a week working 8-5 mon-fri. I guess it all depends on where you manage to get in on.
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Old 02-13-2015, 05:19 AM   #11
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Common theme I mentioned early.
Most people dont cut it and quit after realizing the low wage and years of experience required to profit from flat rate.
Love how the VCC and BCIT teachers mislead the students about this trade...just so they have a constant stream of students to teach every year.
It's probably the lowest paying red seal trade.
ICBC and the big franchises like Craftsman and Kirmac have ruined it by monopolizing how things are done. It's become a hamburger assembly shop where they assign inexperience apprentice with specific duties.

I cant wait till this bites ICBC so hard in the butt...when no qualified techs are able to fix their cars. The old guys are leaving telling the young guys to find another profession.

Please heed my warning until things change (wont be anytime soon).
Specialize in any other trade besides autobody and general auto mechanic.

Last edited by Ludepower; 02-13-2015 at 05:40 AM.
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Old 02-13-2015, 07:40 AM   #12
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It won't just be biting ICBC in the butt but everyone who drives a vehicle.
Flat rate isn't for everyone and that's how younger people in the trade are taught. Your busting your ass checking every .1 on the sheet making sure you get paid for what you do. It can be exhausting. Like i said before if your good at what you do you can make $30-$40 straight time. That's a decent wage in any trade.
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Old 02-13-2015, 02:29 PM   #13
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Love how the VCC and BCIT teachers mislead the students about this trade...just so they have a constant stream of students to teach every year.
It's probably the lowest paying red seal trade.
I cannot agree with you more. When I first took autobody at BCIT back in 2006, they were saying it's a great industry and you can make 100k+

Not saying it is impossible, but with the way the industry is going, very difficult to be making that kind of money in autobody.

To make $30-$40 straight time, you would need to be very very good at what you do. Most journeyman's that I know are in the mid-high 20's/hr.
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Old 02-13-2015, 02:44 PM   #14
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I chose to re start my automotive s. tech apprenticeship I start on the 23rd.
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I believe cars are meant to be driven. I see zero point in having a beautiful car and never driving it. Might as well have Miranda Kerr in your bed and sleeping on the ground cause you don't want to fudge her mascara...

We go through our entire lives being told what to do every step of the way. The garage was always the one place where you could indulge in your own passion, with not a care for the outside world.
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Old 02-13-2015, 07:03 PM   #15
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Common theme I mentioned early.
Most people dont cut it and quit after realizing the low wage and years of experience required to profit from flat rate.
Love how the VCC and BCIT teachers mislead the students about this trade...just so they have a constant stream of students to teach every year.
It's probably the lowest paying red seal trade.
ICBC and the big franchises like Craftsman and Kirmac have ruined it by monopolizing how things are done. It's become a hamburger assembly shop where they assign inexperience apprentice with specific duties.

I cant wait till this bites ICBC so hard in the butt...when no qualified techs are able to fix their cars. The old guys are leaving telling the young guys to find another profession.

Please heed my warning until things change (wont be anytime soon).
Specialize in any other trade besides autobody and general auto mechanic.
i work at a Craftsman, and i do have to agree with most of what you've mentioned. that being said though, i've seen techs with a 5 figure paycheque on their good months - but take that with a grain of salt, as you need to be an extremely efficient tech to pull that off. it's far from impossible but also far from easy.

as for assigning inexperienced apprentices to specific duties.. care to elaborate? at my shop the apprentices do exactly the same things the journeyman techs do, just on straight time rather than flat rate
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Old 02-14-2015, 12:52 AM   #16
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as for assigning inexperienced apprentices to specific duties.. care to elaborate? at my shop the apprentices do exactly the same things the journeyman techs do, just on straight time rather than flat rate
In the corporates mindset (some kirmac shops are already like this)...they're trying to change the system where each person has a specific mundane duty. You'll have the apprentices do the R&I all day long while the bodyman strictly do the repairs. You'll also have the apprentice preppers...who strictly prep all day long for the painters who are stuck inside their booths.

All the hours are shared between them..and obviously the apprentices do the leg work getting paid less and the journeyman are pissed that they're sharing their hours.

You do know that R+I rates are being lowered to $17 an hour right?
And painters lose 30% off their times because of this so called new system they implemented.

We need someone representing our industry against ICBC...cause with a flick of their fingers...things can change at their discretion.

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It won't just be biting ICBC in the butt but everyone who drives a vehicle.
Flat rate isn't for everyone and that's how younger people in the trade are taught. Your busting your ass checking every .1 on the sheet making sure you get paid for what you do. It can be exhausting. Like i said before if your good at what you do you can make $30-$40 straight time. That's a decent wage in any trade.
Flat rate vs Straight time...doesn't matter what system you choose...you'll need 10+ years experience to become proficient. Compared to other trades where in 4 years you can max out and peak at your industry wage.

Im not trying to sound like an old angry fart. Just being blunt for the prospective apprentices out there. Climbing the autobody ladder is very discouraging just so you can peak at 60k-80k.

Last edited by Ludepower; 02-14-2015 at 01:17 AM.
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Old 02-16-2015, 08:27 AM   #17
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You do know that R+I rates are being lowered to $17 an hour right?
First ive heard of this from $72.11 to $17? This is a pretty big pay cut
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:08 AM   #18
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I used to always believe that staying with one company and working your way up will be the most profitable for yourself. boy was I wrong. I worked at one shop for 6years and quit and went to craftsman and was offered more money than a buddy who had been working there for 5 years. the guy that replaced me at my old shop instantly made the same money as me. it kinda blew my mind, so whenever I have a chance at icbc training days I ask how much people make and tell them how much I made in hopes the painter wage would rise.

In the end it's about what shop your at and how efficient things are run there.

Is there any other red seal pAinters here other than myself and ludepower?
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:08 AM   #19
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I used to always believe that staying with one company and working your way up will be the most profitable for yourself. boy was I wrong. I worked at one shop for 6years and quit and went to craftsman and was offered more money than a buddy who had been working there for 5 years. the guy that replaced me at my old shop instantly made the same money as me. it kinda blew my mind, so whenever I have a chance at icbc training days I ask how much people make and tell them how much I made in hopes the painter wage would rise.

In the end it's about what shop your at and how efficient things are run there.

Is there any other red seal pAinters here other than myself and ludepower?
Sometimes a company cant see the value in an employee until they are gone, so i disagree with staying at a company and working your way up might be more beneficial.
Asking someone how much they make is useless, you don't know how many hours they are producing or not producing. People in this industry need to grow some balls and ask for what they deserve if they feel they are under paid its on you to do something about it.
It doesn't matter what the icbc door rate is, how much the guy next door is paying their painter/body tech or if the boss says he is paying you the industry average.
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:19 AM   #20
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Sometimes a company cant see the value in an employee until they are gone, so i disagree with staying at a company and working your way up might be more beneficial.
Asking someone how much they make is useless, you don't know how many hours they are producing or not producing. People in this industry need to grow some balls and ask for what they deserve if they feel they are under paid its on you to do something about it.
It doesn't matter what the icbc door rate is, how much the guy next door is paying their painter/body tech or if the boss says he is paying you the industry average.
10/10 this guy/girl gets it.

The last two jobs I've applied for/had offered me a wage and I asked for $3 more an hour because I know I'm a hard worker and worth it.

So far no one has said no to me.
BUT if you ask for more, more is expected of you and you need to live up to your word.
Alot of people are self entitled and think the world owes them something. If you're lazy or spend your whole shift on your phone, show up late and just dgaf obviously they're not going to pay you any more than bare minimum.
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I believe cars are meant to be driven. I see zero point in having a beautiful car and never driving it. Might as well have Miranda Kerr in your bed and sleeping on the ground cause you don't want to fudge her mascara...

We go through our entire lives being told what to do every step of the way. The garage was always the one place where you could indulge in your own passion, with not a care for the outside world.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:39 PM   #21
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U guys are talking like ur both straight time workers. It does matter what the other guy is making because if ur better than him, at the very least u should be paid the same or more. Even if it's a couple dollars an hrs. $2-$4 @90-140hrs is $180-$560 more a paycheck. Where I come from, that's abit of a difference.

If ur lazy, on ur phone all the time, come late. U aren't getting paid regardless since ur flat rate.
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Old 02-19-2015, 05:41 PM   #22
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The wages are pretty standardize throughout this trade (ICBC).
So you cant be asking for too much more than the next guy.

Average I say is $25 hour flat rate. I can hit 130 hours every 2 weeks with ease...but that's all dependent if the shop is busy enough.

I don't like being on anyone clock. Flat rate is the way to go.

For me to work straight time...I would need at LEAST want $35 an hour and work for a union shop. Just so it can comparable to other skilled union trades.
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:47 AM   #23
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First ive heard of this from $72.11 to $17? This is a pretty big pay cut
what he said, no i havn't heard of this. you sure this is correct.. ?

they just changed the rates, from 70.77 to 72.11 so i don't see them changing it to $17 lol..
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