Automotive Refinisher Kaipeita Waka

Automotive refinishers prepare vehicle surfaces, match and mix colours, and apply paint to vehicles.

Automotive refinishers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss vehicle-painting options with customers or managers
  • sand vehicles to prepare for painting
  • select and mix paints
  • apply paint
  • buff and polish finished paintwork.

Physical Requirements

Automotive refinishers need to have:

  • good hand-eye co-ordination
  • normal colour vision for matching colours
  • no breathing problems or dermatitis as they work with harmful chemicals.

Useful Experience

Useful experience includes:

  • experience with vehicles or driving
  • working in an automotive workshop or in panelbeating
  • work as a signwriter or industrial spray painter.

Personal Qualities

Automotive refinishers need to be:

  • punctual, motivated, responsible and honest 
  • careful, patient and accurate, with an eye for detail
  • able to follow instructions and ask questions
  • able to work independently and as part of a team
  • good at problem solving.


Automotive refinishers need to have knowledge of:

  • how to prepare a vehicle for painting
  • vehicle painting techniques
  • different paint types and colours and how to apply them correctly
  • colour-matching and spray-painting.

Automotive refinishers who run their own business need small business skills.


Automotive refinishers:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in collision repair (paint and panel) workshops and in vehicle paint shops
  • work in conditions that may be noisy and fumy, so they need to use protective equipment.

Automotive Refinishers can earn around $23-$28 per hour.

Chances of getting a job as a Automotive Refinisher are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for automotive refinishers varies depending on qualifications and experience.

  • Apprentice automotive refinishers can expect to earn the minimum wage or a little more.
  • After one to five years they usually earn up to $28 an hour.
  • Automotive refinishers with more than five years' experience can earn between $28 and $38 an hour.
  • Self-employed automotive refinishers and those in roles with more responsibility or skill can earn more than this.

Source: Collision Repair Association, 2021; Automotive Employment NZ, 'Motor Body Staff', May 2020; and OneStaff, 'What's My Rate? New Zealand Industrial and Trades Wages Report - 2021', 2021.

Automotive refinishers may progress to set up their own automotive refinishing business.

Years Of Training

3-4 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become an automotive refinisher. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Refinishing may be useful. 

To become a qualified automotive refinisher you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain one or both of:

  • New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair and Automotive Refinishing (Level 3) 
  • New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Refinishing (Level 4).

MITO oversees automotive refinisher apprenticeships.

Automotive Refinisher