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Painting and Coating Worker Job Description, Career as a Painting and Coating Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training None

Salary Median—$12.64 per hour

Employment Outlook Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Painting and coating workers cover manufactured goods with paint, finish, or other coating solution and are employed by many different kinds of industries. They paint items made of metal or wood—anything from pencils to automobiles. They apply paint, varnish, primer, rust preventive, lacquer, and other finishes. They coat candy with chocolate or other sugar solution. They coat electrical wires with insulating materials.

Painting and coating workers often have job titles that reflect the technique they use and the products on which they work. Dippers immerse articles in vats

Painting and coating workers apply coverings in various ways including dipping them in vats of paint, liquid plastic, or other solutions. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

of paint, liquid plastic, or another solution to coat them. Tumbling barrel painters also dip materials into a barrel of solution, then rotate it to ensure the product is thoroughly coated. Spray machine operators use spray guns to coat metal, wood, ceramic, paper, or food products with paint or other solutions. Painting, coating, and decorating workers paint and decorate objects such as furniture, glass, pottery, and cakes. Some operators simply set and monitor automated painting machines.

Transportation equipment painters, or automotive painters, are among the most highly skilled painting and coating workers. These workers are employed in auto body repair and paint shops, where they refinish old and damaged cars, trucks, and buses. Their work includes preparing vehicles for painting, mixing paints, and performing intricate and detailed work with manual spray guns.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no set education requirements for painting and coating workers. A high school diploma is helpful, as is completion of courses at community colleges or vocational schools. Training is generally given informally on the job, lasting from a few days to several months. Some processes, such as the application of powdered coatings, take longer to learn. New workers usually learn by watching experienced painters at work. They begin with simple tasks and gradually move on to more difficult jobs.

Most transportation equipment painters start as helpers and gain their skills on the job over one to two years. The National Institute for Automotive Excellence offers certification based on satisfactory completion of a written examination and experience in the field. Achieving the certification can help transportation equipment painters advance in the field.

Getting the Job

School placement offices and state employment agencies keep listings of manufacturing jobs, including openings for painting and coating workers. Applicants can also apply directly to factories that hire painters and coaters. Sometimes factories post job openings on signs outside the building. Newspaper want ads and Internet job sites may also list openings.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Painting and coating workers advance by working on more difficult jobs. With experience, they take on more responsibility and generally earn higher wages. A few painters and coaters become supervisors. Some with formal training become sales or technical representatives for paint or chemical companies. Some transportation equipment painters open their own auto body shops.

The number of jobs for painting and coating workers is expected to grow more slowly than average through 2014. The increasing numbers of products manufactured abroad will decrease the demand for these workers. The number of jobs will also decrease as improvements in automation of painting and coating machines allow each worker to be more productive. The number of jobs may also fluctuate due to changes in the economy.

Transportation equipment painters have a better job outlook, since the detailed work these painters do does not lend itself to automation. Demand for refinishing is expected to continue to grow, leading to employment increases. Employment in this sector should grow about as fast as average. These workers can also expect steady work, as damaged automobiles are anticipated to require repair regardless of fluctuations in the economy.

Working Conditions

Painting and coating workers work indoors, in usually well-ventilated booths. However, they are sometimes exposed to dangerous fumes and should wear masks or respirators. Legislation has led to better ventilation systems and a safer work environment.

The work of painting and coating workers tends to be repetitive. They must often stand for long periods, so they should be in good health, and they should be able to reach and bend easily. Good eyesight is an asset in this field. Painting and coating workers typically work forty hours per week, although there may be some overtime work. Many plants have two or three shifts and pay higher wages for the night shifts. Transportation equipment painters who own their own shops sometimes work long hours, depending on workflow. Many painters and coaters who work for manufacturers and large motor vehicle dealers belong to labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Where to Go for More Information

Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology
492 Norristown Rd.
Blue Bell, PA 19422-2350
(610) 940-0777

International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades
1750 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 637-0700

International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 624-6800

Sheet Metal Workers International Association
1750 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 783-5880

Earnings and Benefits

Wages vary according to experience, location, industry, and the plant's pay scale. In 2004 painting and coating workers earned a median hourly wage of $12.64. Transportation equipment painters earned a higher median hourly wage of $16.89. Some automotive painters earn a commission based on the labor charge to the customer. Under the commission system, earnings can vary widely depending on how quickly a painter works. Benefits often include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesManufacturing & Production