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CREF, I-CAR Release Results of Collision Industry Survey

The survey provides unique insights on industry trends such as average age, incomes, entry-level worker task expectations and more going back more than two decades.

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The Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) and I-CAR have announced the release of the executive summary of the 2019 Snapshot of the Collision Repair Industry survey.

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The survey provides data on both the business environment and the technician workforce. Over 675 collision repair businesses responded to the survey, representing over 4,500 technicians. The survey provides unique insights on industry trends such as average age, incomes, entry-level worker task expectations and more going back more than two decades.

Previous surveys, conducted every three years, confirmed the need for a continual supply of qualified entry-level technicians, while also showing changes concerning business operations and the collision repair technician workforce.

“The research clearly shows the collision repair industry’s urgent need to build its skilled workforce development efforts,” said Jeanne Silver of CARSTAR Mundelein who serves as chair of the Collision Repair Education Foundation Board of Trustees. “The Snapshot Survey of the Collision Industry results provides a detailed view of the challenges facing the collision industry’s workforce and clearly identifies the path, opportunities and solid financial rewards available to people seeking to train for a career in the industry. We urge the industry to help the foundation deliver these solutions.”

Added I-CAR CEO and President John Van Alstyne, “We are pleased to again work with the Collision Repair Education Foundation in conducting this important industry survey. The survey verifies the critical need for well-trained collision repair technicians – both today and in the future – and it also confirms the outstanding professional and financial opportunities that are available in the industry. Today’s rapidly changing vehicle technologies and materials require technicians who have the training and ability to utilize information, knowledge and skills to repair damaged vehicles correctly. There has never been a better time to consider a rewarding career in the collision repair industry.” 

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Report Highlights

While the total number of collision repair businesses increased slightly (1.6%), the number of technicians has increased significantly (5.2%). The percentage of small shops (with annual sales under $300,000) has steadily declined since 1995, while the share of large shops (over $1 million) continues to increase.

Current Technicians

The average technician age has again increased and is now over 41 years old, rising about 17 percent since 1995. A particular concern for this industry is the lack of growth in the percentage of technicians over 50 years old.

Hiring from another shop, is still the largest source of technician hiring (52%), is similar to 2016 (49%), and is down from 61 percent in 2013. Just over 29 percent were hired from a non-automotive industry or as their first job, higher than in 2016 (25%). Over 11 percent were hired from a related automotive industry, similar to the 2016 survey results.

Compensation

Flat rate (commission) compensation plans have again decreased to just over two of five technicians (43%), now almost equal to hourly/salary plans (40%).

Although there is a wide distribution, annual income tends to increase with shop sales volume. Income figures shown are for production technicians over 20 years old. According to survey respondents, the average income for production technicians rose from $52,997 in 2013 and $53,857 in 2016 to $54,842 in 2019. This is competitive with similar skilled trades and higher than most. Almost 31 percent reported earnings of $70,000 or higher, showing an attractive earning potential as a collision repair technician.

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This report of the survey results will be distributed to high school and college collision school programs across the country this fall, including school guidance counselors. Industry members with questions about the survey or interest in supporting CREF should contact Director of Development Brandon Eckenrode at (312) 231-0258.

To download the survey, click here.

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