By Debbie Holden 09 Nov 2017 6 min read

Panel beater job description


Panel beaters, or vehicle body repairers, are responsible for the repair of the bodywork of vehicles. You will use various metalwork techniques to remove dents, repair rusted section, and fix panels together. You will need to finish the bodywork in a way that matches the rest of the vehicle.

This type of work is usually carried out in a workshop or in an automotive garage. The role is usually on a shift basis, so you will need to be prepared to work during the evenings and sometimes at weekends.

If you are practical, have an eye for detail, and have an interest in the automotive industry, a career as a panel beater could be for you. Read on to find out more.


Working conditions
Career prospects


What does a panel beater do?

Your day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Making assessments of damaged vehicles, deciding how best to repair it and estimating the time and cost for the repair.
  • Mending rusted parts of a vehicle’s bodywork.
  • Removing any dents in panels.
  • Repairing minor scratches, or making replacement panels.
  • Welding new or repaired panels into place.
  • Finishing the repair in a way that matches the rest of the bodywork or preparing the surface for a paint sprayer.
  • Keeping records of all work carried out.


What qualifications do you need to become a panel beater?

There are several routes you could take to become a panel beater. Before you pursue these courses, it’s worth noting that most employers will require GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4).

  • College course: City & Guilds offers a Vehicle Accident Repair course. Find out more about it here. Other courses might be called Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, for example

There are apprenticeships available for this role if you’re looking for a more hands on approach and want to get paid while you study. This will give you the practical experience you need to learn how a panel beater does their job. The apprenticeship will last around two to three years, and will consist of the following units:

  • Removal and repair of panels
  • Refit of mechanical and electrical trim
  • Repair of paint defects and refinishing


Working conditions

Working as a panel beater means you will likely work in a body repair shop, which will operate during normal working hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm). Larger bodyshops may have longer working hours and operate a split shift system. You will need to have a reasonable level of physical strength and stamina for this profession, and it is important that you consider health and safety methods e.g. wearing protective equipment and following safety procedures to protect yourself from any hazardous substances.


What skills do you need to become a panel beater?

Communication skills: You will need to be able to communicate with customers, explaining the work to be done and the cost.

Dexterity: You will need good hand-to-eye coordination for most of your tasks and the ability to use a range of tools.

Organisational skills: You will likely be juggling different tasks each day, so learning to prioritise your work will be essential.

Eye for detail: You will need to have good attention to detail, especially when finishing the repair to match the rest of the bodywork.

Practical mindset: You will need a logical way of thinking to work out the best way to make a repair.

Adaptability/flexibility: You could end up working later if you have a deadline to meet or an increased workload some day, so being adaptable to the situation is essential. You may also need to adapt to different makes of cars, while maintaining the quality of your work.

Good level of general fitness: This is quite an active role and you will need to be able to handle large sheets of metal.


How much does a panel beater earn?

Starting salary: £15,000 – £18,000

Experienced: £20,000 – £25,000

Senior: £30,000

These figures are a guide and come from the National Careers Service.

According to data from our most recent annual report, the average salary for a panel beater in 2019 was £33,285.04.

Take a look at the map below to find out what the average panel beater salary is in your area. The figures come from 2020 InAutomotive data.


What are your career prospects as a panel beater?

As you take on more responsibility and build up your experience, you could supervise other panel beaters as a manager. You could also become an automotive technician or, with further training, a mechanic.