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.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but construction and mechanical technologies and maths to at least NCEA Level 1 are useful.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies, and the StartUp, STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

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