Automotive Refinishing Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Automotive Refinishing Technician trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Technicien/technicienne en peinture d’automobiles

NOC: 7322

Designation Year: 1992

RSOS Products for Download

The Automotive Refinishing Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Automotive Refinishing Technician A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Automotive Refinishing Technician A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Automotive Refinishing Technician (PDF, 716 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Automotive Refinishing Technician Trade

“Automotive Refinishing Technician” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. Prior to October 2018, the trade name was Automotive Painter. This standard covers tasks performed by automotive refinishing technicians whose occupational title may vary across provinces and territories of Canada. For official provincial or territorial names, please refer to the Ellis Chart.

Automotive refinishing technicians work on the surfaces of motor vehicles, primarily in restoring vehicle finishes once body work has been completed. Some of the duties that an automotive refinishing technician completes include: removing layers of old coatings; matching colours and mixing paints; preparing surfaces for painting by spot filling, sanding, and masking; applying primers, primer surfacers, sealers, base coats, single-stage and clear coats; cleaning and polishing painted surfaces; and applying protective coatings.

Automotive refinishing technicians use hand and power tools and automotive refinishing equipment in their work. Computers and related software are used for computerized paint colour reading, generating paint formulas and tinting recommendations, and documentation.

Journeypersons in this trade usually work indoors and can expect a work environment that includes paint fumes, dust and noise. Health and safety are important issues for automotive refinishing technicians, as they are exposed to chemical hazards such as paints and solvents, and physical hazards such as shop equipment, power tools and lifting equipment. Automotive refinishing technicians are exposed to repetitive movements, bending, lifting and reaching on a daily basis. Ongoing safety training and a good knowledge of government safety standards and regulations are important in providing a safer working environment as well as addressing environmental concerns.

Many automotive refinishing technicians work in close contact with auto body and collision technicians who tend to work in multi-shop companies, independent or dealership auto body and collision shops. Automotive painting duties may overlap with auto body and collision technicians’ duties, particularly in small shops. In larger places of employment, automotive refinishing technicians likely work as specialists, after body repairs have been completed. They may also work with estimators, partspersons, detailers, preppers, glass installers and production managers. While they may work as part of the repair team, automotive refinishing technicians tend to work independently. They may work in the automotive, truck and transport, commercial transport, heavy equipment, motorcycle, specialty vehicle, aviation and aerospace sectors.

Key attributes for people entering this trade include: mechanical aptitude; manual dexterity; good colour vision; the ability to do precise work that requires attention to detail; and, problem solving and multitasking skills. Good physical condition and agility are important because the work often requires considerable standing, bending, crouching, kneeling and reaching.

Being an automotive refinishing technician is very rewarding. With experience, journeypersons have a number of career options, including supervisory or teaching/training in the field, insurance appraiser, estimator and manufacturers’ representative.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the skills and knowledge which support each sub-task of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Automotive refinishing technicians read repair orders (work orders and estimates), labels, application or installation instructions, technical data sheets (TDS), manufacturers’ service bulletins and manuals for safe use and storage of paints, solvents and equipment. They also read trade publications to learn about new technologies, products and materials.

  • Document Use

    Automotive refinishing technicians reference safety or hazard icons to obtain information on a product’s toxicity. They read forms and tables to determine product specifications such as temperatures, humidity, drying times and ratios. Automotive refinishing technicians also use colour chips, vehicle information, tinting charts and technology to determine colour variant to achieve a blend-able match. They use safety and environmental documentation such as safety data sheets (SDS), VOC and isocyanates logs, maintenance logs, and TDS. They track and log colour libraries. They use business-related documentation such as: time sheets, repair orders (work orders), production schedules and pre-delivery checklists.

  • Writing

    Automotive refinishing technicians write notes on repair orders (work orders) and forms to describe previous damage, work that was carried out and any irregularities. Automotive refinishing technicians may write reports describing workplace accidents and note information for the colour library, chemical tracking and equipment logs. They may prepare lists for ordering inventory.

  • Oral Communication

    Automotive refinishing technicians communicate with colleagues and customers about the scope of work and work completed. They explain procedures to apprentices and estimators. Automotive refinishing technicians need to communicate with suppliers and manufacturer representatives.

  • Numeracy

    Automotive refinishing technicians monitor temperatures, humidity and pressure levels. They calculate quantities of materials needed and mix refinishing materials based on weight, volume, ratios and formulas. Automotive refinishing technicians may also estimate time required to complete painting tasks including force-drying calculations.

  • Thinking

    Automotive refinishing technicians use analytical and problem solving skills to determine appropriate solutions to refinishing issues such as surface imperfections, contamination, production problems and equipment problems. Automotive refinishing technicians make decisions about which products to use to create the desired finish. They use organizational skills to enhance production schedule and maintain work flow.

  • Working with others

    Automotive refinishing technicians spend most of their time working independently but they are required to coordinate activities with colleagues from body repair, detailing, vehicle preparation and office staff to maintain production schedule. They may also work directly with colleagues to help them with vehicle preparation duties.

  • Digital Technology

    Automotive refinishing technicians may use digital tools and equipment to measure temperature, humidity, air pressure and paint thickness. They may also use digital devices to determine paint colours and codes. Automotive refinishing technicians may use computer software to retrieve paint formulas and access instructions for selecting and mixing appropriate refinishing materials. Workplace records and technical and safety information may be recorded and accessed using computers.

  • Continuous Learning

    Automotive refinishing technicians are continuously learning to keep up with the changes in the industry in relation to products, vehicles and equipment. They may attend manufacturers’ or suppliers’ seminars to become a certified user of their products. Some jurisdictions require automotive refinishing technicians to participate in continuous learning.

Trends in the Automotive Refinishing Technician Trade

The use of environmentally responsible materials is continually evolving in the trade. Regulations controlling their use and disposal are becoming stricter than in previous years.

Computer software is used for colour formula and document retrieval and assists in colour matching and mixing. Online paint training and general information retrieval is increasing rapidly as well as the use of computers to monitor and report on usage of liquids, material costs and inventory.

Manufacturers’ systems involving spectrophotometers, internet-based ordering software and equipment are more involved in the day-to-day operations. High tech equipment such as speed-dry, anti-static guns, nitrogen spray systems are increasing efficiency but making the paint process much more technical. While these high technology tools are helpful, they are only supplemental to the trained eye of an experienced professional automotive refinishing technician who is attuned to fine detail.

Hybrid, electric vehicles (EV) and alternative fuel vehicles are becoming increasingly popular. Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have specific recommendations for working on these types of vehicles to prevent vehicle damage and ensure worker safety.

Vehicle build technology is also advancing and affecting refinishing work. More aluminum and composite materials are used, and automotive refinishing technicians must be aware of the effect these materials have on how they do their job.

Auto manufacturers are increasingly using 3 and 4 stage paint colours and specialty micro flake metallic with specialized preparation and application procedures. Specialized anti-scratch products (ceramic/nano coating and ceramic clear coat) are increasingly being used. Faster curing products are also increasing efficiency.

Innovation is seen in areas such as nanotechnology, applications using nitrogen spray systems, and curing technologies involving ultraviolet (UV) and broadband infrared curing.

The introduction of high-solid contents and waterborne paints has decreased the level of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, as well as the use and disposal of VOCs. Some manufacturers have developed ways to continue to use solvent-based products using exempt solvents that produce lower levels of VOCs.

The structure of day-to-day operations in repair facilities has changed with more specialization of departments and work. Attention to detail and problem-solving skills are becoming more critical for the trade to be able to overcome color match challenges and thus eliminating rework and decreasing costs.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional regulations and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and at a high quality without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturers, client expectations, the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Acts, and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) regulations must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Daniel Chudy - Ontario
  • John Euloth - British Columbia
  • Wayna Faria - Ontario
  • Mark Idt - Prince Edward Island
  • Mark Klimchuk - Manitoba
  • Kyle Kushnir - British Columbia
  • Mathieu Lachapelle-Boucher - Quebec
  • Gavin MacKenzie - Alberta
  • Garth Shaw - Manitoba
  • Derek Topolnisky - Alberta
  • Warren Weinert - Saskatchewan

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Sectoral Initiatives Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of British Columbia, the host jurisdiction for this trade.