3 minute read


Education and Training: High school, apprenticeship of 2-4 years
Average Salary: $15.85 per hour
Job Outlook: Good

A painter applies paint, varnish, stain, and other finishes to buildings and wall coverings to make the surface clean and attractive. Paints are applied to walls and exterior surfaces to prevent corrosion from weather. A painter is responsible for preparing the surface to be painted by removing the old paint by sanding, wire brushing, or water and abrasive blasting. They also make the surface smooth by filling nail holes and cracks and rubbing sand paper on rough spots. On newer surfaces, painters might be required to use a primer or a sealer before applying the top coat. Painters are also required to select the appropriate paint for the surface, depending on the durability, customer’s requirements, and method of application.
Painters often use their knowledge of color harmony to mix and match colors. This process might be automated in some hardware or paint shops. Painters might be required to produce a textured effect on the walls. Other types of decorative techniques adopted by painters include sheen striping, color blocking, and marbling.

Education and Training Requirements

Most painters are required to undergo an apprenticeship program of 2-4 years. Apprenticeship programs often require high school education. Apprenticeship programs offer paid, on-the-job training to painters. Some apprenticeship programs also include several hours of classroom training. As part of these programs, painters are taught about color harmony, surface preparation, techniques for applying paints, preparing surfaces, and paint mixing.
Some painters might also attend various vocational courses lasting about a year of training. Various painters work as helpers for senior experienced painters to receive on-the-job training.

Getting the Job

To get a job as a painter, in addition to some form of training, it is recommended to have previous work experience. Most employers are keen on knowing about previous projects completed and the individual contribution made. Employers look for excellent manual skillfulness, color sense, and good vision. Since the work is physically demanding, painters need good overall physique and loads of stamina.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for painters are good with a projected overall growth in employment expected to be 7% for 2008-2018. Painters often leave their jobs to work in other, higher-paying industries. As such, the demand for skilled and experienced painters will continue to grow. Since there are no strict training requirements for the job of a painter, many people with limited training and skills take up the role of a painter as an entry-level job.
For career development, painters can undergo specialized courses and certifications offered by institutes such as the National Association for Corrosion Engineers. These courses can last from one day to several weeks. With experience, painters can move over to supervisory roles. Some of them even become painting contractors wherein they have a pool for painters working for them.

Working Conditions and Environment

Painters have variable schedules ranging from 30-40 hours a week. They need to spend a lot of time bending, stretching, climbing, and kneeling. They often work by standing on scaffoldings or ladders. This requires a lot of stamina as painters spend considerable amount of time painting walls, with arms raised above their heads. This can be extremely tiring.
Painters are exposed to uncomfortable positions and often need to work outside in warm weather. Illness and work-related injuries are common in the painting profession.

Salary and Benefits

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median hourly wages for painters were $15.85 in May 2008. An entry level painter can expect to get $10 per hour whereas an experienced and trained painter can even get $33 per hour. The earnings for painters typically go down during bad weather conditions.

Where to Go for More Information

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
7234 Parkway Dr.
Hanover, MD 21076
(410) 564-5900

Painting and Decorating Contractors of America
1801 Park 270 Dr., Ste. 220
St. Louis, MO 63146
(314) 514-7322

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConstruction & Skilled Trades