Painters paint a variety of objects from equipment, walls and buildings to bridges and other large structures. They use different types of tools and equipment from rollers, brushes and spray guns to ladders, scaffoldings and harnesses.
A painter career includes removing old paint through sanding or wire brushing to prepare surfaces for new paint, protecting floors and furniture with drop-cloths, setting up ladders or scaffolding and filling cracks or holes in walls with putty or similar fillers.
A painting career includes mixing colors to achieve desired color or thickness, applying sealers and using tools such as brushes, rollers or power sprayers to paint areas.
Education and Certifications
People interested in a painter career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and they need to complete their training.
Painter unions sponsor apprenticeship programs where workers learn skills within 3 to 4 years. For each program year, apprentices must complete 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid onsite training. Painting skills taught range from preparing surfaces and mixing paints to application techniques.
Painters interested in industrial painting can earn different certifications, such as the Protective Coating Specialist certification, from the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. Certificate program lengths range from a day to several weeks, depending on the specialty.
Essential Career Information
- $37,960 - Median pay, 2017
- $25,200 - Wage of lowest 10 percent, 2017
- $63,620 - Wage of the highest 10 percent, 2017
- 381,500 - Number of jobs, 2016
- 6% - Employment growth forecast, 2016
- Entry-level education requirements - No formal educational credentials
- Physical Stamina. Painters should be able to stay physically active for many hours, because they spend much of the workday standing with their arms extended while climbing ladders.
- Physical Strength. Painters must be able to lift up to 50 pounds, and they move numerous heavy items during the course of a job. For example, a 5-gallon bucket of paint weighs more than 40 pounds.
- Communication Skills. Painters who work in residential settings often interact with clients. They must communicate with clients in order to help select colors and application techniques.
- Visual Ability. Painters must be able to identify and differentiate between subtle changes in color.
- Detail Oriented. Painters must be precise when creating or painting edges, because minor flaws can be noticeable.