How to Become a Painter

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


Paint is an essential part of the construction field; as it makes surfaces clean, bright, and attractive and protects exterior surfaces from weather and wear. Painters are trained professionals that apply paint, varnish, stain, and other finishes to a variety of interior and exterior structures.

What does a painter do?

Painters apply finishes to structures. They select the correct paint or finish depending on the surface and they take durability, application method, handling techniques, and the customers needs and wants into consideration. They first prepare the surface to ensure the paint or finish with stick correctly and they often remove old paint by stripping, blasting, sanding, wire brushing, or burning. Painters also wash the surfaces, repair rough spots, remove dust, and fill in cracks and holes. They apply sealer or primer on new surfaces. They also match colors and mix paints and use a variety of tools to achieve the desired look.

Some painters specialize in painting industrial structures and others concentrate on residential buildings. Some also coat the interior and exterior of equipment such as piping, storage tanks, locks, and structural steel.

What kind of training does a painter need?

Painters typically learn their skills on the job, but many employers seek applicants that have completed apprenticeship programs. Some painters complete formal painting training through vocational and technical schools. Apprenticeship programs provide classroom instruction and on the job training. Apprentices usually learn the use and care of tools and equipment, color harmony, application techniques, surface preparation, characteristics of different finishing, paint mixing and matching, wood finishing, reading blueprints, and safety procedures. The programs typically take 2 to 4 years to complete.

Painters can gain voluntary certification through many organizations such as the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, which offers the Protective Coating Specialist designation.

What are the prospects for a career as a painter?

Employment of painters is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% through 2016 (1). The growth of construction and the increased need for painting services for buildings and other structures will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for painters with formal education and extensive experience. Job openings will also arise from the need to replace painters that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do painters make?

As of this year, the middle 50% of painters earn annual salaries between $30,063 and $43,823. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $50,955 (2).

A career as a painter is a great choice for individuals with a strong passion for interior and exterior painting. Painters must have good physical stamina and be able to balance on platforms and ladders. Good manual dexterity, color sense, vision, and patience are also essential qualities of painters. They must have excellent communication and be able to work effectively independently and as part of a team.

Becoming a Painter Requires Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Painter? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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