Working as a Spray Machine Operator

What Does a Spray 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.

How To Become a Spray 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 Salary$36,085
Job Growth Rate2%

Spray Machine Operator Jobs

Average Salary for a Spray Machine Operator

Spray Machine Operators in America make an average salary of $36,085 per year or $17 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $53,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $24,000 per year.
Average Salary
$36,085

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Metal Spraying Machine Operator
Metal Spraying Machine Operator
Accurate Lock and Hardware Co., LLC.
Accurate Lock and Hardware Co., LLC.
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$26,714Invalid date
$26,714
Coating, Painting, Spraying Machine Setters & Operators
Coating, Painting, Spraying Machine Setters & Operators
Tribo Coating LLC
Tribo Coating LLC
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$21,684Invalid date
$21,684
Costing, Painting and Spraying Machine Steers, Operators, Tenders
Costing, Painting and Spraying Machine Steers, Operators, Tenders
Lacoa Inc.
Lacoa Inc.
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$32,202Invalid date
$32,202
Coating, Painting, and Spraying Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Coating, Painting, and Spraying Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Isolantite Manufacturing Company, Inc.
Isolantite Manufacturing Company, Inc.
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$31,138Invalid date
$31,138
Coating, Painting, Spraying Machine Setters Operators
Coating, Painting, Spraying Machine Setters Operators
Barr-None Coating Applicators, Inc.
Barr-None Coating Applicators, Inc.
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$31,000Invalid date
$31,000

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Spray Machine Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

74.7 %

Female

21.3 %

Unknown

4.0 %
Ethnicity

White

66.2 %

Black or African American

13.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.7 %
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Bosnian

100.0 %
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Spray Machine Operator Education

Schools

Bristol Community College

20.0 %

Alamance Community College

10.0 %

University of North Alabama

10.0 %

Yakima Valley Community College

10.0 %
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Majors

General Studies

23.5 %

Industrial Technology

17.6 %

Plant Sciences

5.9 %

Business

5.9 %
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Degrees

High School Diploma

50.0 %

Diploma

21.4 %

Certificate

17.9 %

Associate

10.7 %
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Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Spray Machine Operator

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Top Skills For a Spray Machine Operator

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, 36.5% of spray machine operators listed hand tools on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and physical stamina are important as well.

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Top Spray Machine Operator Employers

1. Kohler Co.
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$41,931
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
3+
2. Adecco Staffing, USA
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$29,178
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
1+
3. HALL CHINA
2.9
Avg. Salary: 
$39,039
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
1+
4. Haworth
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$43,123
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
1+
5. Guardian Automotive
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$54,075
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
1+
6. Aerotek
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$32,107
Spray Machine Operators Hired: 
1+

Recently Added Spray Machine Operator Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020