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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

  • $34,000

    Average Salary

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.

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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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Painter Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Journeyman Painter 6.4 years
Painter Foreman 5.8 years
Painter Supervisor 5.0 years
Spray Painter 4.8 years
Lead Painter 4.1 years
Carpenter/Painter 4.0 years
Finish Painter 3.8 years
Roof Painter 3.7 years
House Painter 3.5 years
Industrial Painter 3.4 years
Buildings Painter 3.0 years
Painter 3.0 years
Landscape Painter 3.0 years
Interior Painter 2.9 years
Shipyard Painter 2.7 years
Painter Apprentice 2.1 years
Painter Helper 2.0 years
Painter Assistant 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Painter
Cashier 13.8%
Cook 6.3%
Driver 4.3%
Server 4.2%
Manager 4.0%
Supervisor 3.6%
Owner 3.6%
Welder 3.2%
Carpenter 3.1%
Technician 2.9%
Top Careers After Painter
Cashier 9.2%
Driver 6.6%
Owner 5.7%
Cook 4.9%
Technician 4.2%
Welder 3.9%
Supervisor 3.7%
Server 3.7%
Manager 3.6%
Carpenter 3.5%

Do you work as a Painter?

Average Yearly Salary
$34,000
Show Salaries
$24,000
Min 10%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Median 50%
$49,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Sony Corporation of America
Highest Paying City
Los Angeles, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.2 years
How much does a Painter make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Painter in the United States is $35,001 per year or $17 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $24,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $49,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Painter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Apr 01, 2013 $115,000
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Apr 01, 2011 $110,000
Background Painter Nickelodeon Animation Studios Inc. Aug 29, 2016 $87,256
Matte Painter Dreamworks Animation LLC Jun 25, 2012 $86,318
Matte Painter Pacific Data Images, Inc. Apr 01, 2011 $80,266
Painter Creative Engineering, Inc. Jul 22, 2016 $66,435
Scenic Painter Vision Scenery Corporation, Inc. Nov 17, 2016 $66,310
Painter DBD Contracting, LLC Aug 21, 2015 $63,700
Painter JSB Enterprises DBA Harrington Jan 27, 2015 $60,299
Painter JSB Enterprises DBA Harrington Jun 07, 2011 $59,062
Painter Alchemy Services Inc. May 11, 2011 $58,436
Painter Avid Management Inc. May 14, 2015 $57,117
Painter Harinc Corp Oct 14, 2015 $57,117
Bodyshop Bodyman/Painter Raiford Motor, Inc. Oct 26, 2016 $54,000
Painter Hans Dalgaard Painting Inc. Apr 01, 2016 $44,766
Painters R.C Painting May 04, 2016 $44,766
Painter Palmer Wellington Painting May 16, 2016 $44,766
Painter Beverly 84 LLC May 31, 2011 $43,827
Painter Jebco Enterprise, LLC Jan 04, 2011 $43,827
Painter Diamond Paper Peelers Sep 09, 2011 $43,827
Painter J & L Painting Contractors, Inc. Sep 28, 2015 $43,410
Painter S & S Painting and Coatings, Inc. Sep 02, 2011 $43,243
Painter Load Trail, LLC Nov 01, 2014 $33,392 -
$39,653
Painter Load Trail, LLC Sep 01, 2014 $33,392 -
$39,653
Painter Hans Dalgaard Painting Inc. Mar 15, 2013 $32,891
Painter R.C. Painting Inc. Mar 15, 2013 $32,891
Painter Load Trail, LLC Sep 01, 2014 $32,703 -
$39,653
Painter Archive Finishing LLC Nov 01, 2014 $32,119
Painter GAE Mi Construction LLC Oct 28, 2015 $32,000
Painter Persona, Inc. Apr 01, 2015 $31,868

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Top Skills for A Painter

  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.
  • Assisted with drywall repairs and light carpentry Painted various residential and commercial locations learned about ladder and height safety
  • Painted home exteriors in residential areas including scraping and sanding for preparation.
  • Provided Interior and exterior painting services to residential customers; assured quality of work to maintain customer satisfaction and relations
  • Provided and performed basic standardized procedures and direct personal resident and industrial painting skills and safety procedures.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Painters

  1. Alaska
  2. North Dakota
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Nebraska
  5. Mississippi
  6. Utah
  7. Maine
  8. Vermont
  9. New Jersey
  10. Arizona
  • (7 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)

Painter Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 71,809 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.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Painter Resume

View Resume Examples

Painter Demographics

Gender

Male

81.1%

Female

15.2%

Unknown

3.7%
Ethnicity

White

64.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.9%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

5.5%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.0%

French

5.5%

Polish

3.2%

German

3.0%

Portuguese

2.0%

Japanese

1.8%

Italian

1.5%

Arabic

1.5%

Carrier

1.2%

Russian

1.1%

Venetian

1.1%

Greek

0.8%

Chinese

0.7%

Korean

0.5%

Albanian

0.5%

Mandarin

0.4%

Thai

0.3%

Dakota

0.3%

Bosnian

0.3%

Macedonian

0.3%
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Painter Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

8.0%

Ohio State University

7.5%

Tidewater Community College

7.4%

Pennsylvania State University

5.5%

Baker College

5.1%

Kaplan University

5.0%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

5.0%

Kent State University

4.9%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.9%

A-Technical College

4.9%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

4.7%

Full Sail University

4.7%

Ashford University

4.6%

Thomas Nelson Community College

4.3%

Purdue University

4.2%

Ohio University -

4.1%

West Virginia University

3.8%

Western Michigan University

3.8%

Indiana University Bloomington

3.7%

Mesa Community College - Boswell

3.7%
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Majors

Business

18.1%

Automotive Technology

9.2%

Fine Arts

9.0%

General Studies

8.6%

Criminal Justice

7.2%

Graphic Design

5.3%

Precision Metal Working

4.9%

Computer Science

4.5%

Psychology

4.3%

Accounting

3.2%

Liberal Arts

3.1%

Communication

2.9%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Nursing

2.6%

Kinesiology

2.6%

Electrical Engineering

2.6%

Education

2.5%

Management

2.3%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.2%

English

2.1%
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Degrees

High School Diploma

52.0%

Bachelors

16.8%

Associate

11.8%

Diploma

10.3%

Certificate

7.4%

Masters

1.2%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Top Painter Employers

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