Automotive Sheet Metal Worker

Automotive sheet metal workers cut and shape sheet metal components into the correct forms and sizes for the bodywork of vehicles. 

Automotive sheet metal workers cut and rivet sheet metal, applying heat treatment. They finish off the sheet metal by joining, filing, sanding and smoothing it down. They use electrical and gas welding techniques to join soft steel of different thickness.

Automotive sheet metal workers often have to draw plans, according to which the parts are cut and put together. It is important that the components fit together exactly. They need to know about the qualities of different metals, since decisions must be made as to the correct type of metal to be used. 

They usually work indoors in a workshop and mostly at a bench. Neon or indirect lighting is often used to soften the glare reflecting from the bright surface of the sheet metal. The work is of a relatively clean nature but the hammering can cause some noise.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • enjoy working with your hands
  • mathematical aptitude, since geometrical principles are constantly applied
  • knowledge of and interest in metals
  • able to work accurately and neatly
  • good eye-hand coordination
  • good health and physical fitness
  • good vision and colour discrimination

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate.
Some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to Study

There are four ways to qualify as an automotive sheet metal worker:

1. Apprenticeship

An apprentice is employed by a company for a fixed contract of between 18 months and 4 years under the supervision of a qualified artisan. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test in order to qualify as an automotive sheet metal worker. 

2. Learnership

A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from 1 to 3 years and includes theoretical and practical training. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test in order to qualify as an automotive sheet metal worker. 

3. Certificate

A National Certificate in Engineering can be completed at a TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) College offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

4. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

RPL provides an opportunity for workers with experience in plumbing to have their experience formally recognised to become qualified. RPL is conducted at specific training centres and TVET Colleges with the expertise to offer this services. 

Skills programmes:

As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.


  • motor vehicle manufacturers
  • bus body building companies
  • automotive body repair shops

Further Information

MerSETA (Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services)
merSETA House
95 7th Avenue, 
Corner Rustenburg Road, Melville, 
Johannesburg, 2109
Tel: (010) 219-3000

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a motor manufacturing or bus building concern
  • make an appointment to speak to an automotive sheet metal worker about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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