Is it almost spring again? You know, the time of year when snow starts to melt, trees are budding and parents of college-bound teenagers are hiding in their basements. It’s a stressful time of year for kids and parents alike. Admission offers are trickling in and that means the big decision is at hand; which post-secondary program should you choose? Well, if you’re considering a career in the collision repair industry, whether as a body or paint tradesperson or another part of the industry, below are 5 good reasons to have confidence in that choice.
After doing the circuit of education fairs, guidance counselor meetings, web searches and campus visits, you’ve probably heard all the advice you can take. I can’t tell you to listen to it all but it seems reasonable to consider what the people that have “been there” say. In BC, the provincial government surveys graduates of apprenticeship programs 6 months after completing their training to find out what they have to say about their in-school training, workplace experiences and employment. The surveys, called Apprenticeship Student Outcomes (APPSO) Surveys, are published at http://outcomes.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/APPSO/APPSOPublications.aspx and include surveys as far back as 2005. Encompassing our first 3 good reasons, here’s what the 2010 survey participants said:
1. They enjoyed their education: most (95%) were very satisfied or satisfied with their in-school training and (93%) were very satisfied or satisfied with their workplace training.
2. Job prospects are good: most (86%) were employed at the time of the survey and found work in less than a month. Of those employed, 96% were working full-time and 95% in jobs related to their in-school training.
3. Wages are good: the median wage of respondents who were employed at the time of the survey (that’s 6 months after completing their apprenticeships) was $29/hour.
Two more good reasons to consider a collision repair career are that you can get grant money to help with the education costs and you have many more education options and career paths than you may realize. Here are more details on good reasons 4 and 5:
4. The Canadian government offers up to $4000.00 per person in apprenticeship grants; that’s a grant not a loan so it doesn’t have to be repaid! See the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) website at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/trades_apprenticeship/index.shtml
5. Apprenticing in body or paint work and practicing as a journeyman is just one option. Some technicians go on to apply their skills in different parts of the industry like teaching in high schools and colleges or working in the government departments that develop education standards and govern trades practice. The Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) or, in BC, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) are examples. You also don’t have to start as a tradesperson; other types of post-secondary education can also lead to a collision industry career. Using the AutoHouse Technologies staff as an example illustrates that point. Our president started out as a journeyman and now runs his own collision repair-focused software company. The rest of us graduated from business and marketing, science and liberal arts programs and worked in other sectors before arriving in the collision repair industry.
So, whether you take the short path or the long one, you don’t have to fear that you’re making the wrong choice. All education and work experience will serve you in some way at some time so the best post-secondary choice you can make is the one you want. If you can take it, there’s one more piece of advice.