How To: Earn An Income By Writing Auto Repair Estimates

Earn An Income By Writing Auto Repair Estimates

Collision Repair Related Careers

When you think of a career in collision repair you probably think of a body repair or paint technician. However, there are a lot of related careers that collision repair can lead to.  For Example, you can work in auto parts stores, dealerships, insurance companies, paint representatives, trainers, etc.  In this article we are going to examine a career as an auto estimator.

What is an auto estimator?

An auto estimator or appraiser is a person that writes auto repair estimates on automobiles that have been involved in an accident. Is is important that the understands the basic car design and know the nomenclature of a vehicle. The estimator must also have good communication skills as they deal with customers on a daily basis. Not only does the estimator have to communicate with customers, but they will also be the contact person for the insurance companies, shop managers, and the shop foreman or technicians. Therefore, communications is a must for an auto estimator. This career pathway is definitely for a people person. In fact, I would even say that a person that writes auto repair estimates for a auto body repair center needs to be part salesman. It is their job to sell themselves, the company, the technicians, and the service that the shop provides. Not all technicians make good estimators, but it is a good idea for the estimator to have experience as a technician or have collision repair training. Although there have been people hired without experience and trained by the shop to write estimates.

Who hires auto estimators? 

There are two different industries that hire auto estimators. One is auto collision repair centers and the other is insurance companies. This can also split into other categories in each industry. Collision shops can be dealerships, franchise shops, or independent shops. Some insurance companies hire their own company auto estimators, while other insurance companies hire independent companies. When you write estimates for the insurance company your title may be an auto appraiser instead of an auto estimator.

What can an auto repair estimator expect to earn?

This can vary on your experience and if you work for a small body shop or a insurance company. However, according to O*Net the national median for an Auto Damage Appraiser is $53,440 and had a growth rate of 7% to 10% in a ten year period. (2006 - 2016) Some collision repair centers will pay their estimators a salary and a percentage of every job that they sell. Therefore, the more estimate sales that the estimator produce, the more income he or she can earn if on one of these types bonus incentives.

What is the first step to becoming an auto estimator?

The first thing you will need is to learn is the basics. You can do this by enrolling in a collision repair training program. Many local community and junior colleges offer these programs. This will allow you to learn the basics about the entire industry. Everything from the body repair, structural or frame repair to painting. Most programs incorporate a basic estimating course within the auto program. This will give you a taste of the industry and determine where you fit in best at. You may decide to become a collision or paint technician instead of a person that generates estimates.  Whatever you decide, this training is the first step to securing a job in the auto collision repair or estimating careers. Some insurance companies require that you have a bachelor degree, but many do not. Experience hold a lot of weight with insurance companies as well. The training is your foundation and how you build the building is up to you. What I mean is, once you have your basics down, you have many opportunities and directions to explore.


  • The best training for your money is going to be at a junior or community college. Community colleges normally focus on smaller groups, which offers lower student per instructor ratio. This leads to a deeper level of learning. They also receive state and federal funding, which allows them to offer quality programs at a much lower cost to the student. Other training facilities include technical schools and private owned schools. Check with your local community college to see if they offer collision repair. If not, ask them if there is a nearby tech school that does. Chances are that they will know where to point you in the right direction. Once enrolled in a collision repair program, you will be on your way to a career as a person that writes  or many other career pathways that collision repair has to offer.

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