Women Forging a Path in the collision repair industry
Becoming technicians and estimators.
The collision repair industry is known for having long standing employees. A life-long career is common because people enjoy their work and fixing vehicles. For Jaime Shewbridge, a 30-year career in this industry as a woman is an incredible achievement.
Beginning in the 90’s Jaime has built up a career in this sector and now she is an I-CAR HOSD/welding instructor, Capital Collision Equipment trainer and State Farm P&C claims associate.
In 2020 Jaime won the I-CAR instructor of the year award and in 2021 with the welding instructor of the year award. Despite the achievements, Jaime claimed to be surprised receiving such prestigious awards and put it down to hard work and following her trainers and managers closely over the years. Putting on teaching events, she aimed to please everyone at her classes. Ensuring they learned something at the end of each session which they could take with them throughout their career.
Diving deeper into the craft and work that Jaime had achieved over the years, she stated that a thousand hours would go into each task to ensure she is doing it correctly. Training classes on pieces of equipment also helped, along with genuine curiosity and interest on tasks. Going out of her way to offer information in preparation to classes resulted in the incredible career and achievement Jaime had as a woman in the collision repair industry.
At the age of 16 Jaime was involved with a local body shop with data entry and admin tasks. The career progressed after being recommended by her computer science teacher. Jaime’s career developed into customer service representative, estimator, parts specialist, assistant manager, production manager and then manager.
At 21, Jaime was recruited by an insurance agency. Taking the roles of appraiser, inspector, supervisor, and team manager. Before heading back to the collision repair industry and then to insurance, in an oversight department.
The late 90’s turned Jaime into an I-CAR instructor. She soon realized that repair information was scarce, leading her down the path of raising awareness of the I-CAR classes, which were also not highly attended at the time. This paved the way to reaching instructor status after the lack of teachers available in this industry. Still serving as an aide instructor today.
Shewbridge’s workday as an instructor is as follows:
- Viewing equipment videos from manufacturers to be informed on how equipment works.
- Sifting through manuals and contacting support teams if tech isn’t working.
- Speaking to event staff that are involved in the collision repair industry, explaining how they can be as successful in this career path as Shewbridge is.
- Acting as a judge in competitions, explaining what I-CAR is – all as a volunteer.
- Being a mentor and guidance for students in the trade who need moral boosting and reassurance they can make it in this career.
Being a teacher in this industry is another step up. As students need to be individually assessed at the end of each session. Each session also needs to be prepared, taught correctly, understood, and managed by Shewbridge.
Being a Woman in the Industry
Students are often surprised to find that Jaime is also a female name and when they see their instructor as a woman they can sometimes be skeptical. But afterwards Jaime has spoken highly of great feedback she receives and how much of an incredible teacher she is in the industry.
At the beginning of Shewbridge’s career, there were few women in the industry. Nowadays that number has increased, and it is a much more common industry for women to join. Jaime has said how much it has provided for her family, and how there are zero issues with joining the collision repair industry.
As long as you are keen, motivated to learn and follow all the classes and coursework, there is no reason why women can’t be a part of this industry. Providing the repair process is followed correctly and the owner, OEM and repair shop are all satisfied that the work has been completed then you are on the right path in having a successful career in the industry as a woman.