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The requirements to become a collision estimator can include experience, formal certifications, and familiarity with software used in the auto industry. Shops and insurance companies with a need for independent investigators may set their own standards, depending on their needs. It’s also usually necessary to have a driver’s license in good standing, as these people may need to drive as part of the work. Job openings are commonly listed in regional papers and trade publications and may provide an idea of the expectations held by employers in a specific region.
It may be possible to become a collision estimator through on the job training. Some shops take on apprentices who learn about collision and car repair through practical experience. Trainees can gradually develop more skills and take on projects on their own. While they work, they get familiar with computer systems and other tools of the trade so they can make accurate estimates.
Other shops may require people to have formal certifications before they can start work. It may be necessary to have a professional certification from an industry group to become a collision estimator. This indicates that the applicant has met the requirements for certification, including experience and passage of an examination. Some shops prefer to use qualified appraisers, because it may be necessary to estimate the value of a vehicle to determine if it should be totaled for insurance purposes or repaired.
Training for someone who wants to become a collision estimator can be available through a trade or technical school. This can provide an opportunity to learn about mechanics, auto body repair, and related subjects. Coursework to prepare to apply for an appraiser’s license is also an option for people who need this certification to work. Even if it is not specifically required, it can be helpful, and may open up more opportunities in the future. Supervisory positions, for example, may be offered to people with more qualifications first.
It is important to keep up with industry trends after someone has become a collision estimator. This includes changes in pricing for parts and labor, as well as issues specific to particular cars. Accurate estimates are critical so customers know how much repairs are likely to cost and can use this information to make decisions about how to address damage. For insurance purposes, accuracy is also critical, because it can determine the amount of coverage provided and whether the insurance company will approve the repairs.
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