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Most young people aren’t knocking down the doors of shops, wanting to dedicate their lives to a career in collision repair.
But what about the ones who are? What about the ones who do want to enter this profession? Where can they go to find a school in their area with a solid, up-to-date autobody program?
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation’s (NATEF’s) Web site at www.natef.org is a great starting (and finishing) point.
NATEF is an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates technician-training programs against standards developed by the automotive industry for certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
To start, click on “Career Info” to get insight into various jobs. The site offers career information for automobile, autobody, AFV and truck technicians and parts specialists.
To determine if there’s an accredited training site in your state for a specific area of expertise, click on the “Certified Programs” button to search for certified schools. Choose a category, enter a state and click on the “Find Certified Programs” button. For example, if you check the “autobody” box and click on Wyoming in the list of states, www.natef.org will pull up a listing for Laramie County Community College, in Cheyenne, and offer a name and phone number for someone in the Autobody Department. It also lists the areas in which the school is certified (non-structural analysis/damage repair, structural analysis and damage repair, plastics and adhesives, painting and refinishing) and notes when the certification expires (June 2003).
NATEF doesn’t endorse specific curricular materials or provide instruction. It does, however, set standards for the content of instruction, which includes tasks, tools and equipment, hours and instructor qualifications. Program standards are developed based on ASE task lists and are designed to bring training programs to a level at which participants are properly trained for entry level into the industry. Once a training program meets the established standards and goes through the certification process, it can be certified as a program that actually teaches technicians to today’s industry standards.
And that’s not all. The Web site also offers an online certification section that allows users to order a certification or re-certification manual and/or submit applications for certification or re-certification online.
There’s also more information to come on the site, including a links page to various industry Web sites and additional academic information.
It’s a great place to send someone who wants a career in collision repair. There’s a huge difference between what’s taught at different schools. Some schools are known for having strong journalism programs. Others are known for having strong engineering programs. Make sure you do your part and recommend that young people entering this industry attend a school known for having a strong autobody program.
Writer Cheryl McMullen is managing editor of BodyShop Business.