With winding roads and plenty of roaming animals, West Virginians are no strangers to auto collision repairs. Fred Eberle Technical Center offers students the training they need to excel in this always in-demand career.
Scott Currence, the automotive collision repair instructor at FETC, said participants in the program will learn to fix anything that has to do with body structure, from damage due to deer hits, to rollovers, to small scratches.
“We also learn to repair some mechanical stuff, such as suspensions,” Currence said.
Now is a great time for young people to pursue a career in auto repair.
“The problem we are running into is the average age of a body shop technician is in the 50s,” he said. “We need younger people coming in to fill the void, because in the next 15 to 20 years the majority of workers will be retiring.”
Currence said the job outlook and the money is good for body shop technicians certified in automotive collision repair.
“Money-wise, the sky is the limit, but you have to go out and work for it,” Currence said. “The last body shop job I had was nearly 20 years ago and I made nearly $100,000. So the money is there. People are always going to wreck cars, and they are always going to need them to be fixed. Most of the work we do is paid for by insurance companies.”
He said the program completers will attend classes for two years.
“We get kids who try this out and really like it,” Currence said. “It is work and students need to be motivated. I’ve seen a change in the last few years – some students who go to college accumulate a lot of student loans, and they end up stocking shelves. With our careers, most have on-the-job paid internships with no student loan debt.”
Currence said the program also deals with painting vehicles and matching paint colors. Students who specialize in a particular area, such as painting, are often in higher demand.
“Some shops look for technicians who can do anything from start to finish, but that is kind of dying off,” Currence said.