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Summary of occupation

Panel beaters prepare estimates for the repair of a vehicle. They remove damaged panels from the vehicle which may involve unbolting or cutting. In some cases dents are hammered out, in others the panels need to be replaced. If the vehicle is badly damaged it may need to be pulled back into shape using an auto robot. The panel beater needs to fill any gaps, then file, ground and sand them to a smooth finish. Any other parts that have been removed, such as locks or handles, are replaced

ANZSCO description: Repairs damage to metal, fibreglass and plastic body work on vehicles and forms replacement vehicle panels. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Autobody Repairer, Automotive Body Repairer, Collision Repairer, Vehicle Refinisher
Specialisations: Loss Assessor, Supervisor (Foreman)
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A panel beater needs:

  • to be able to read and understand measurements and specifications
  • have a good understanding of metals, vehicle body parts and mechanics
  • to be enthusiastic about cars
  • to have full use of hands and fingers, good vision and be physically able
  • to be able to work with hand tools and machines
  • to enjoy practical and manual work
  • keep up to date about the latest methods and technology in the industry
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Working conditions

A panel beater would normally work in a workshop for a crash repairer, service station, or car dealer. The work environment tends to be noisy and dusty.

Panel beaters normally work 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday. Some may work on the week-end.

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Salary details

On average, panelbeaters can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 250 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a panelbeater develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.​

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Tools and technologies

Panel beaters need to be proficient with a wide range of tools. For example, general hand and electric machines and hand tools, oxy-acetylene cutting equipment, planishing hammer (to remove dents) and electric welding equipment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a panelbeater, you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in panel beating. The apprenticeship usually takes 42 months to complete, and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

To work as a panel beater in Western Australia, you will need to acquire a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate, or work under the supervision of someone who holds a current certificate. A National Police Certificate is required to gain a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate. The certificate is available from the Commissioner of Consumer Protection at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety​. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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