Four years ago I was at my second year of university, doing my Bachelors in English and History, with the goal of becoming a teacher. But something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel like I was making the best use of myself. I was heading farther and farther down a path I wasn’t sure about. I thought this was where I wanted to be, but it didn’t feel as I had imagined. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but in that moment I knew it was no longer this.

Unwilling to put any more time or energy into something I knew was not for me, I left school. The more research I did, the better automotive refinishing looked to me. So I decided that I would become an automotive painter. I started my apprenticeship, working to attain my work experience hours for a year before I decided to leave my family’s shop in central B.C. and move to Vancouver. I signed up for the foundational refinishing prep technician course at Vancouver Community College. Attending school and engaging with learning again made me sure that I had made the right choice.

I achieved my certification and I am now employed at a collision repair shop, where I am an automotive refinishing apprentice. I work on the surfaces of motor vehicles, mostly restoring finishes after bodywork repairs have been done. Some of my duties include matching and mixing colour, preparing metal surfaces for painting by spot filling, sanding, masking, applying primer, colour coats, and clear coat.

Now I look forward to every day in my career. I have just over a year of my apprenticeship left, but I know there will always be new things to learn. Once I finish my Red Seal, I would like to move into custom work and explore the more artistic side of refinishing.

Kiara Reissner

Excerpted from Collision Quarterly, Winter 2019

Collision Quarterly, Winter 2019

Scroll to Top