Do you have a passion for cars and are fascinated with body painting? Then you might want to consider becoming an automotive body painter. A body tech is one thing and a body painter is quite another. You’ll need to work together to get the job done right.
It helps if you have studied science, art, math and computers in high school. This will help prepare for being an automotive body painter. If you can get a high school apprentice position in an auto body shop in the paint department for starters this is an added plus. They may use your services by having you wash cars or act as a porter but hey, that’s okay. Get to know the people in the shop and pay attention to what they are doing. One of the paint technicians may just take you under his wing and show the ropes. They may show you how to mask off parts and possibly allow you sand fill areas. This is a great start. This may lead to applying spray primer. You’ll learn proper spray techniques with this one.
Having this under your belt, you need to look for an automotive body paint school. Check with your local vocational and community college as well as online. You’ll need to take coursework in understanding some of the chemistry of the paints you’re using as well as how to mix them to make various colors and of course learning various spray techniques. You’ll also learn about safety as these paints contain harmful chemicals.
Continue with your apprenticeship and see how far you can get with it while you take your coursework. While your learning, the owner of the shop may allow you to pain one of their own vehicles to give you practice. Take all the learning you can get. Ask for help when you need it so that you can improve you technique. You may be able to get into a better automotive body paint shop and work with some real pros. You have to realize that painting an automobile is in a way a work of art especially when someone wants a custom design not just a one color cover. It takes considerable time to get really good at this so don’t worry if you make mistakes just go ahead and fix it and move on.
Once you finish your vocational training, you are good to go. You’ll need to update your skills as paint materials and technologies can change rapidly. One way to do this is to attend and I-car (collision and repair) class as well as paint classes whether online or in your area if available. To keep up on paint trends and technological advances read body shop oriented articles.
If you happen to land a position in a large shop as a painter’s helper, keep in mind that you will end up preparing the vehicle for the painter. On the other hand, smaller shops may expect you to do everything from washing, preparing and painting cars.
Believe it or not, production painters have been known to make 3 digit figure incomes but they truly are the experts in the field. They have to be excellent matchers of color. If you can get with one of these, you’ll really have it made.
Please do keep in mind that you are working with paints that contain harmful chemicals that can do serious damage to your skin as well as inside your body and brain. Make sure you always wear proper safety equipment.