Also known as automotive body repairers, panel beaters are service technicians that repair a vehicle and vehicle components back to their factory state. Their responsibilities include inspecting damaged parts, repairing and assembling them to fit and look as close as possible as the original structure.
Panel beaters straighten bent frames, remove dents and replace damaged body parts. They use special machines to align damaged frames, body sections and unit bodies. Panel beaters work a lot with their hands or they use hand tools and special gear. Their craft requires both physical strength and extreme attention to detail. This craft has long-term demand in the automotive market and body repairers can practice their profession in numerous other sectors of the industry as well.
Becoming a panel beater requires mandatory panel beater courses, apprenticeship, and hands-on training experience. The job is part of the MerSETA (Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority) landscape. To become a panel beater, you need to have an NQF Level 2 with a pass in mathematics, four years of apprenticeship in the field, and have a national certificate that shows the completion of panel beater courses. Courses in Automotive Body Repairing are offered at False Bay, Northlink and Umgungundlovu TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges.
Engineering Graphics and Design
False Bay TVET College
NCV: Engineering and Related Design: Motor Mechanics
ND Mechanical Engineering - Fitter and Turner
Umgungundlovu TVET College
NCV Engineering and Related Design
Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services (MerSETA ) - www.merseta.org.za
South African Motor Body Repairers Association (SAMBRA) - https://sambra.biz/
Collision Repairers Association of South Africa (CRASA) - https://crasa.org.za/
Why did you choose this profession?
Growing up, I always loved the motor industry and I figured if this drove me then why not get a qualification in what I was good at.
What training did you undergo and where?
I received my trade certification in spray painting and panel beating at Westlake College, where I got my qualification.
Describe a typical day on the job
Pushing production and keeping the clients happy. Some days are more stressful than others, but it’s what keeps me motivated.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My favorite part of this job is seeing the end results after a job is completed as well as knowing that the customer is satisfied and as happy as what I am.
What don’t you like?
The job can be very demanding, stressful and tiring.
What hurdles have you had to overcome?
I believe that what you put in is what you get out and one main hurdle I have had to overcome is getting the work we do up to standard.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
Owning my own business!
What are your future goals?
From here on forward I would like to create a bigger working environment, so that we will be able to employ more people as well as allow the business to grow even bigger.
In your line of work, is experience as important as formal training?
Yes, definitely. Panel beating is a hands-on job, so practical training is crucial.
Is there a type of personality best suited to this work, or certain traits one should have (or not have)?
You have to have a love for cars and looking forward to an end result of the repair and restoration. Having customer etiquette is very important and also taking action, using your own initiative.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?
Firstly, love what you do. Do not allow yourself to be in a position that you do not want to be in, especially if it’s not what you want. Put in everything that you have to give. Nothing is easy; you need to make the most of it, so you can get the best out of it.
Describe your job in three words
Passionate, detailed and challenging.
Interview date: May 2021