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Become A Painter

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Working As A Painter

  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $39,695

    Average Salary

What Does A Painter Do

A Painter is a person who paints buildings, walls, ceilings, and woodwork. They fill cracks and holes with the appropriate material, mix paint and other materials to prepare the right color or texture, and paint surfaces according to instructions with various tools.

How To Become A Painter

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


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.


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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Painter jobs

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Painter Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Polish

  • German

  • Japanese

  • Italian

  • Carrier

  • Arabic

  • Portuguese

  • Russian

  • Venetian

  • Korean

  • Chinese

  • Dakota

  • Mandarin

  • Greek

  • Czech

  • Hebrew

  • Romanian

  • Khmer

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Painter Education


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Real Painter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Apr 01, 2013 $115,000
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Apr 01, 2011 $110,000
Background Painter Nickelodeon Animation Studios Inc. Burbank, CA Aug 29, 2016 $87,256
Matte Painter Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Jun 25, 2012 $86,318
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Apr 01, 2011 $80,266
Painter Creative Engineering, Inc. Islandia, NY Jul 22, 2016 $66,435
Scenic Painter Vision Scenery Corporation, Inc. Selma, CA Nov 17, 2016 $66,310
Painter DBD Contracting, LLC Freeport, NY Aug 21, 2015 $63,700
Painter JSB Enterprises DBA Harrington New York, NY Jan 27, 2015 $60,299
Painter JSB Enterprises DBA Harrington New York, NY Jun 07, 2011 $59,062
Painter Alchemy Services Inc. Hackensack, NJ May 11, 2011 $58,436
Painter Harinc Corp Medford, MA Oct 14, 2015 $57,117
Painter Avid Management Inc. Somerville, MA May 14, 2015 $57,117
Bodyshop Bodyman/Painter Raiford Motor, Inc. Port Arthur, TX Oct 26, 2016 $54,000
Painters R.C Painting Nantucket, MA May 04, 2016 $44,766
Painter Palmer Wellington Painting Nantucket, MA May 16, 2016 $44,766
Painter Hans Dalgaard Painting Inc. Nantucket, MA Apr 01, 2016 $44,766
Painter Jebco Enterprise, LLC Hamburg, NJ Jan 04, 2011 $43,827
Painter Beverly 84 LLC Dover, NJ May 31, 2011 $43,827
Painter Diamond Paper Peelers Wharton, NJ Sep 09, 2011 $43,827
Painter J & L Painting Contractors, Inc. Roselle, NJ Sep 28, 2015 $43,410
Painter S & S Painting and Coatings, Inc. Castro Valley, CA Sep 02, 2011 $43,243
Painter Load Trail, LLC TX Sep 01, 2014 $33,392 -
Painter Load Trail, LLC TX Nov 01, 2014 $33,392 -
Painter R.C. Painting Inc. MA Mar 15, 2013 $32,891
Painter Hans Dalgaard Painting Inc. MA Mar 15, 2013 $32,891
Painter Load Trail, LLC TX Sep 01, 2014 $32,703 -
Painter Archive Finishing LLC Hailey, ID Nov 01, 2014 $32,119
Painter GAE Mi Construction LLC Roswell, GA Oct 28, 2015 $32,000
Painter Persona, Inc. Watertown, SD Apr 01, 2015 $31,868

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Top Skills for A Painter


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Top Painter Skills

  1. Prep Uneven Surfaces
  2. Drywall Repair
  3. Sand
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Use of putty, wood filler, spackling and caulks interior and exterior to prep uneven surfaces and joints.
  • Paint with airless sprayer, conventional sprayer, brush, roll, drywall repair and ceiling texture.
  • Prepared locations for painting including sanding, masking, and use of drop cloths.
  • Prepare surfaces, maintain clean work areas, promote a safe work environment by ensuring established safety procedures are followed.
  • Worked with a group of entrepreneurial college students cleaning and painting houses.

Top Painter Employers

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Painter Videos

To Be a Painter

Day in the Life of a Line Painter

The Prince and the Coachline Painter