What they do

Panel beaters prepare estimates for the repair of a vehicle. They remove damaged panels from the vehicle which may involve unbolting or cutting. In some cases dents are hammered out, in others the panels need to be replaced. If the vehicle is badly damaged it may need to be pulled back into shape using an auto robot. The panel beater needs to fill any gaps, then file, ground and sand them to a smooth finish. Any other parts that have been removed, such as locks or handles, are replaced.

Working conditions

A panel beater would normally work in a workshop for a crash repairer, service station, or car dealer. The work environment tends to be noisy and dusty.

Panel beaters normally work 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday. Some may work on the week-end.

Tools and technologies

Panel beaters need to be proficient with a wide range of tools. For example, general hand and electric machines and hand tools, oxy-acetylene cutting equipment, planishing hammer (to remove dents) and electric welding equipment.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a panelbeater, you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in panel beating. The apprenticeship usually takes 42 months to complete, and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a panel beater in Western Australia, you will need to acquire a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate, or work under the supervision of someone who holds a current certificate. A National Police Certificate is required to gain a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate. The certificate is available from the Commissioner of Consumer Protection at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.