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Working As A Paint Machine Operator

  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Stressful

  • $33,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Paint Machine Operator Do

Painting and coating workers often use machines to paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics.

Duties

Painting and coating workers typically do the following:

  • Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products
  • Select the paint or coating needed for the job 
  • Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated
  • Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating 
  • Apply paint or coating
  • Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas

Millions of items ranging from cars to furniture are coated by paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other types of liquid applications. Painting or coating is used to make a product more attractive or protect it from the elements. The paint finish on an automobile, for example, makes the vehicle more attractive and provides protection from corrosion.

Before workers begin to apply the paint or other coating, they often need to prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it carefully to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. Masking is frequently required and involves carefully covering portions of the product with tape and paper.

After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. A common technique is dipping an item in a large vat of paint or some other coating. Spraying products with paint or another coating is also common. Many factories use automated painting systems.

The following are examples of types of painting and coating workers:

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine. During the process, these workers program the machine, tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to touch up flaws.

Dippers use power hoists to immerse products in vats of paint, liquid plastic, or other solutions. This technique is commonly used for small parts of electronic equipment, such as cell phones.

Painting, coating, and decorating workers apply coatings to furniture, glass, pottery, toys, books, and other products. Paper is often coated to give it a gloss. Silver, tin, and copper solutions are frequently sprayed onto glass to make mirrors.

Spraying machine operators use spray guns to coat metal, wood, ceramic, fabric, and paper products with paint and other coating solutions.

Transportation equipment painters are the best known group of painting and coating workers. There are three major specialties:

  • Transportation equipment workers, or automotive painters, usually refinish old or damaged cars, trucks, and buses in automotive repair and paint shops by applying paint by hand with a spray gun. Those who work in repair shops are among the most competent manual spray operators: they perform intricate, detailed work and mix paints to match the original color—a task that is especially difficult if the color has faded. Painting an old car is similar to painting other metal objects.
  • Transportation equipment painters work on new cars and oversee several automated steps. A modern car is first dipped in an anticorrosion bath, then coated with colored paint, and finally painted with several coats of clear paint to prevent damage to the colored paint.
  • Other transportation equipment painters either paint equipment that is too large to paint automatically—such as ships or giant construction equipment—or do touchup work to fix flaws in the paint that are caused by damage either during assembly or during the automated painting process.

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How To Become A Paint Machine Operator

Most painting and coating workers learn on the job after earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Training for new workers usually lasts from a few days to several months.

Education

Painting and coating workers in the manufacturing sector usually must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers outside of manufacturing sometimes hire workers without a high school diploma.

Taking high school courses in automotive painting is recommended.

Some automotive painters attend a technical or vocational school where they receive hands-on training and learn the intricacies of mixing and applying different types of paint.

Training

Most entry-level workers receive on-the-job training that may last from a few days to a few months.

Workers who operate computer-controlled equipment may require additional training in computer programming.

Manufacturing transportation equipment painters typically learn to paint on the job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Voluntary certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is recognized as the standard of achievement for automotive painters. To obtain certification, painters must pass a written exam and have at least 2 years of experience in the field. Recertification is required every 5 years. Few painting and coating workers other than automobile painters obtain certification.

ASE-approved training in refinishing taken while one is enrolled in high school, a trade or vocational school, or a community college may substitute for up to 1 year of work experience. To keep the certification, painters must retake the exam at least every 5 years.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Some workers make elaborate or decorative designs. For example, some automotive painters specialize in making custom designs for vehicles. 

Color vision. Workers must be able to blend new paint colors in order to match existing colors on a surface.

Mechanical skills. Workers must be able to operate and maintain sprayers that apply paints and coatings.

Physical stamina. Some workers must stand at their station for extended periods. Continuous standing or activity can be tiring.

Physical strength. Workers may need to lift heavy objects. Some products that are painted or coated may weigh over 50 pounds.

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Average Length of Employment
Machine Operator 3.2 years
Machine Operater 3.1 years
Line Operator 2.5 years
Top Careers Before Paint Machine Operator
Painter 9.4%
Cashier 8.2%
Packer 3.1%
Driver 3.1%
Top Careers After Paint Machine Operator
Painter 7.9%
Driver 5.3%
Operator 3.2%
Cashier 3.2%
Owner 2.6%
Assembler 2.6%

Do you work as a Paint Machine Operator?

Top Skills for A Paint Machine Operator

  1. Product Quality
  2. Heavy Equipment
  3. Ensure Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained the higheststandards for product quality and service.
  • Steel Fabricator Forklift Operator Painter of heavy equipment Packing and shipping of equipment
  • Planned and implemented alterations to ensure safety, to improve operator ergonomics, and to increase machine productivity.
  • Scrape, sandpaper, prime, or seal surfaces prior to painting
  • Operated forklift to load or unload trucks as well as to locate materials and supply line in cooperation with production control.

Paint Machine Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

80.2%

Female

16.6%

Unknown

3.2%
Ethnicity

White

61.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.4%

Black or African American

12.6%

Asian

6.7%

Unknown

2.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Hmong

33.3%

Tagalog

33.3%

Spanish

33.3%

Paint Machine Operator Education

Schools

Norfolk State University

9.5%

Ferris State University

4.8%

Ohio University-Southern Campus

4.8%

Baker College

4.8%

East Texas Baptist University

4.8%

Texarkana College

4.8%

Kent State University at Salem

4.8%

Middle Georgia Technical College

4.8%

Williamsburg Technical College

4.8%

Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Jackson

4.8%

University of Oklahoma

4.8%

Spartanburg Technical College

4.8%

Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College

4.8%

Jackson State Community College

4.8%

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

4.8%

Lakeland College

4.8%

Blackhawk Technical College

4.8%

Central Piedmont Community College

4.8%

Jefferson Technical College

4.8%

Franklin University

4.8%
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Majors

Business

17.0%

General Studies

11.3%

Computer Science

7.5%

Engineering

7.5%

Precision Metal Working

5.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

5.7%

Automotive Technology

5.7%

Electrical Engineering

5.7%

Graphic Communications

3.8%

Fine Arts

3.8%

Industrial Technology

3.8%

Education

3.8%

Criminal Justice

3.8%

Liberal Arts

3.8%

International Business

1.9%

Psychology

1.9%

Engineering Technology

1.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.9%

Medical Technician

1.9%

Health Sciences And Services

1.9%
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Degrees

High School Diploma

55.1%

Associate

13.2%

Certificate

12.5%

Bachelors

9.6%

Diploma

8.1%

Masters

0.7%

License

0.7%
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Updated May 18, 2020