Windscreen Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Windscreen technicians replace and repair windscreens as well as rear and side windows. They work on a wide range of vehicles - from cars and vans, to heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses and trains. Few vehicles have the same windscreen, therefore technicians must follow specific replacement instructions for each particular vehicle.

Windscreen technicians are usually mobile, working on the roadside and outside people's homes, although some may be based at a garage or specialist repair centre.

Mobile technicians use a van that is fully equipped with everything they need. They receive job sheets at the start of the day which detail all the jobs that need to be completed.

Windscreen glass is a very complex material made from two bent pieces of glass bonded together using a plastic layer in between. This makes the glass resistant to penetrating objects and prevents people from being ejected out of the vehicle. This type of laminated glass is also very rigid and contributes to a vehicle's structural strength, making it an important safety feature.

Typically the work involves:

  • Removing moulds and trims from around windows.
  • Disconnecting any electrical components.
  • Removing damaged glass.
  • Selecting the correct size of windscreen to be fitted to the vehicle.
  • Replacing the glass according to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications.
  • Refitting all the removed components.

In most cases, windscreen technicians install glass that has been pre-cut or shaped. For buses and agricultural vehicles it may be necessary to cut and shape the window from a large piece of glass, using a template and a range of specialist cutting tools.

Mobile technicians may sometimes need to arrange for a vehicle to be taken to a depot to be repaired undercover. This may be due to poor weather (some adhesives used to install a windscreen do not work in wet conditions), poor fitting environment or the complexity of the removal process.

Some windscreens can be repaired, which is done by using a special resin to fill in any chips or cracks. The area is then polished, leaving the repair virtually invisible. Some installation companies may also offer sun-roof conversions and/or window tinting.

The work of a windscreen technician involves a high level of customer care as they are in day-to-day contact with the public. Health and safety is also a crucial part of this job.

Most windscreen technicians work around 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, usually from 9.00am to 5.00pm. However, some technicians may work for companies that run an emergency call-out service operating 24 hours a day, therefore shift work may be required.

Mobile technicians spend their day on the road, driving from job to job. They may have to work in all weather conditions. A full, clean driving licence is required.

Some work is also carried out in vehicle workshops where conditions vary considerably. Most will be ventilated to prevent a build-up of fumes.

Technicians wear overalls or a company uniform, gloves, eye protectors and safety footwear. Specialist tools are provided by employers. The job involves a fair amount of physical effort. Technicians also work with chemicals, including glues and resins, and they must not be allergic to any of these substances.

Trainee windscreen technicians may earn £12,500 a year.
With experience, windscreen technicians may earn up to £20,000 a year and specialist technicians may earn up to £25,000 a year.

Some companies offer overtime, bonus schemes and the use of a company vehicle outside working hours.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

With nearly 35 million vehicles on the road, there is a constant demand for well-trained, highly-skilled windscreen technicians. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 and 5,500 windscreen technicians employed in the UK.

There are opportunities all over the UK working for:

  • Car servicing workshops and repair garages.
  • Specialist glass fitters used by insurance companies for windscreen replacement.
  • Freight haulage firms.
  • Vehicle manufacturers.
  • Public transport companies - bus and train operators and airlines.

Jobs may be advertised in local Connexions centres, in Jobcentre Plus offices, in the local press and on large companies' websites.

Education and Training

There are no set entry requirements for windscreen technicians. Many enter as school leavers and are employed by an employer as an apprentice. To follow an Apprenticeship, it is useful to have some GCSEs (A*-E), particularly in English and maths, or equivalent vocational qualifications.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

There are a range of general automotive qualifications available, including BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in vehicle repair and technology offered at colleges across the UK.

It is possible to train as a windscreen technician having worked in other areas of employment, provided applicants can cope with the physical requirements of the job.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is usually provided by employers, and apprentices combine practical on-the-job training in the workplace with part-time attendance at college. Apprentices work towards NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in automotive glazing.

Larger national companies have their own dedicated training centres where technicians can work towards NVQ qualifications.

Glass Training Ltd promotes Learning for All, a scheme which encourages companies to set up their own learning programmes in the workplace.

It is important for technicians to keep up to date with the latest developments associated with vehicles. They may be expected to attend short courses or continuing professional development (CPD) events to maintain skill levels throughout their career. Employers may arrange attendance on courses, but technicians are also expected to take responsibility for keeping up to date with developments in the industry.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A windscreen technician should:

  • Have a good general knowledge of motor vehicles.
  • Be able to follow written instructions.
  • Be able to work off-site, without supervision.
  • Communicate well with customers and members of their team.
  • Be able to work quickly and methodically.
  • Have good levels of fitness.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experienced windscreen technicians may be promoted to a training or supervisory role.

It is also possible to move into customer services or work up to management level.

Get Further Information

Autoglass®, 1 Priory Business Park
Cardington, Bedford MK44 3US
Website: http://www.autoglass.co.uk/Careers

Glass Training Limited,
Suite 28, The Quadrant,
99 Parkway Avenue,
Parkway Business Park,
Sheffield S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0070
Website: www.glass-training.co.uk

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI),
Fanshaws, Brickendon,
Hertford SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511 521
Website: www.theimi.org.uk and
www.automotive-skills.org.uk

Proskills UK, Centurion Court,
85b Milton Park, Abingdon,
Oxfordshire OX14 4RY
Tel: 01235 432032
Website: www.proskills.co.uk

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