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Average Salary
$31,503
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
3,181
Job Openings

Painter Careers

A Painter prepares and paints walls and surfaces. As a painter, you will clean and tape the job site, covering up furniture or surfaces you wish to protect from damage. You will prep scaffoldings for buildings, carry out minor repairs, apply plaster to fill cracks and holes, cover fixtures, and scrape off old paint. You might apply primers, solutions, or sealer on the walls of rooms, buildings, or other structures before going in with wallpaper or paint on the walls.

You will need to blend paint, oil, and other materials to achieve the desired vision of your client and use the necessary tools to efficiently apply a durable coating to the surfaces in question.

You have to be able to follow orders and manage your time efficiently, as well as carry out the necessary logistical arrangements such as acquiring and transporting your tools and materials.

What Does a Painter Do

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

Duties

Painters typically do the following:

  • Cover floors, furniture, and trim with dropcloths, tarps, and masking tape, to protect surfaces
  • Remove and replace pictures and outlet and switch covers
  • Fill holes and cracks with putty or plaster
  • Prepare surfaces by scraping, wire brushing, or sanding to a smooth finish
  • Calculate the area to be painted and the amount of paint needed
  • Apply primers or sealers so the paint will adhere
  • Install scaffolding and set up ladders
  • Apply paint or other finishes, using handbrushes, rollers, or sprayers

Applying paint to interior walls makes surfaces attractive and vibrant. In addition, paints and other sealers protect exterior surfaces from damage caused by weather, sunlight, and pollution.

Because there are several ways to apply paint, workers must be able to choose the proper tool for each job, such as the correct roller, power sprayer, or brush. Choosing the right tool typically depends on the surface to be covered and the characteristics of the material applied.

A few painters—mainly industrial—use special safety equipment. For example, painting in confined spaces, such as the inside of a large storage tank, requires workers to wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. On some projects they may operate abrasive blasters to remove old coatings, which may require the use of additional clothing and protective eyewear. When painting bridges, ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding, bosun’s chairs, and harnesses in order to reach work areas.

The following are examples of types of painters:

Construction painters apply paints, stains, and coatings to interior and exterior walls, new buildings, and other structural surfaces.

Maintenance painters remove old finishes and apply paints, stains, and coatings later in a structure’s life. Some painters specialize in painting or coating industrial structures, such as bridges and oil rigs, to prevent corrosion. These workers are sometimes called industrial painters.

Artisan painters specialize in creating distinct finishes by using one of many decorative techniques. One such technique is adding glaze for increased depth and texture. Other common techniques include sponging, distressing, rag rolling, color blocking, and faux finishing.

How To Become a Painter

Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.

Education

There are no specific education requirements to become a painter, but high school courses in mathematics, shop, and blueprint reading can be useful. Also, some 2-year technical schools offer courses through apprenticeships affiliated with union and contractor organizations. Credits earned as part of an apprenticeship program usually count toward an associate’s degree.

Training

Most painters learn their trade on the job. They typically begin by doing simple tasks, such as helping carry materials and laying drop cloths, and then move on to more complicated tasks, such as priming surfaces to be finished.

Some painters learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship, although a few local unions have additional time requirements. For each year of the typical program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Through technical instruction, apprentices learn how to: use and care for tools and equipment, prepare surfaces, mix and match paint, and read blueprints. In addition, they may learn about application techniques, the characteristics of different finishes, including wood finishing, and safety practices. 

After completing an apprenticeship program, painters are considered journey workers and may perform tasks on their own.

Unions and contractors sponsor apprenticeship programs. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

Although the vast majority of workers learn their trade on the job or through an apprenticeship, some contractors offer their own training program for new workers. The National Association of Home Builders through the Home Builders Institute offer Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT), which covers information for eight construction trades, including painting.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Those interested in industrial painting can earn several certifications from NACE International Institute or from the Society for Protective Coatings. The most common certification, from both groups, is called Protective Coating Specialist. Courses range from 1 day to several weeks, depending on the certification program and specialty. Applicants also must meet work experience requirements.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Painters must be able to identify and differentiate between subtle changes in color.

Customer-service skills. Workers who paint the inside and outside of residential homes often interact with clients. They must communicate with the client, listen to what the client wants, and help select colors and application techniques that satisfy the client.

Detail oriented. Painters must be precise when creating or painting edges, because minor flaws can be noticeable.

Physical stamina. Painters should be able to stay physically active for many hours, because they spend most of the day standing with their arms extended while climbing ladders.

Physical strength. Painters must lift and move numerous items during the course of a job. For example, a 5-gallon bucket of paint weighs over 40 pounds.

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Average Salary
$31,503
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
6%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
3,181
Job Openings

Painter Career Paths

Top Careers Before Painter

Cashier
14.8 %

Top Careers After Painter

Cashier
9.5 %
Driver
7.2 %

Painter Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Painter

Painters in America make an average salary of $31,503 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $40,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $24,000 per year.
Average Salary
$31,503
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Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Los Angeles, CA
Salary Range35k - 55k$45k$44,652
New York, NY
Salary Range30k - 45k$37k$37,476
Saint Paul, MN
Salary Range30k - 45k$37k$37,471
Vancouver, WA
Salary Range28k - 48k$37k$37,203
Eau Claire, WI
Salary Range28k - 42k$35k$34,711
Evanston, IL
Salary Range28k - 41k$35k$34,502
$23k
$55k

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Painter Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Painter. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Painter Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Painter resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Painter Demographics

Gender

male

81.1 %

female

15.2 %

unknown

3.7 %

Ethnicity

White

64.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

22.2 %

Black or African American

8.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.0 %

French

5.5 %

Polish

3.2 %
See More Demographics

Painter Education

Majors

Business
18.0 %

Degrees

High School Diploma

35.6 %

Certificate

30.5 %

Bachelors

13.3 %
See More Education Info

Online Courses For Painter That You May Like

The Acrylic Painting Academy
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Get Started With Acrylic Painting...

Foundations for Mastering Watercolor Painting
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4.8
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An in-depth, approachable look at painting materials that will make mastering the medium truly possible...

Impressionism - Paint this Autumn painting in oil or acrylic
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4.5
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Learn Impressionism techniques creating this Autumn landscape painting. For total beginner through advanced painters...

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Top Skills For a Painter

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 12.5% of painters listed sand on their resume, but soft skills such as color vision and customer-service skills are important as well.

  • Sand, 12.5%
  • Safety Procedures, 10.6%
  • Exterior Surfaces, 7.0%
  • Exterior Painting, 6.4%
  • Drywall Repair, 5.8%
  • Other Skills, 57.7%
  • See All Painter Skills

Best States For a Painter

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a painter. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Painters make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $46,532. Whereas in California and Massachusetts, they would average $44,788 and $41,791, respectively. While painters would only make an average of $41,625 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Rhode Island

Total Painter Jobs:
12
Highest 10% Earn:
$54,000
Location Quotient:
1.66
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Painter Jobs:
45
Highest 10% Earn:
$68,000
Location Quotient:
0.95
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Minnesota

Total Painter Jobs:
52
Highest 10% Earn:
$54,000
Location Quotient:
1.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Painter Employers

1. Tradesmen International
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$31,314
Painters Hired: 
186+
2. CertaPro Painters
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$28,082
Painters Hired: 
97+
3. Aerotek
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$32,249
Painters Hired: 
92+
4. Tidewater
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$32,119
Painters Hired: 
78+
5. BAE Systems
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$35,749
Painters Hired: 
66+
6. Caterpillar
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$36,146
Painters Hired: 
52+

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