What They Do: Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.
Work Environment: Painters work indoors and outdoors in many different work environments. Painting is physically demanding and requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Painters who paint bridges or buildings may be exposed to extreme heights and uncomfortable positions.
How to Become One: Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.
Salary: The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance is $45,590.
Job Outlook: Employment of painters is projected to grow 5 percent, slower than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of painters, construction and maintenance with similar occupations.
Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.
Painters typically do the following:
Paints and other sealers protect surfaces from damage caused by weather, sunlight, and pollution.
There are several ways to apply paint to a surface, and painters must choose the correct tool for each job, such as a roller, power sprayer, or brush. Choosing the right tool typically depends on the type of surface to be painted and the characteristics of the paint to be used. Some employers require painters to provide their own equipment.
Painters may wear special safety equipment for a job. For example, painters working in confined spaces, such as the inside of a large storage tank, must wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Some painters wear additional clothing and protective eyewear when operating abrasive blasters to remove old coatings. When painting bridges, ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding or harnesses.
Construction and maintenance painters hold about 350,800 jobs. The largest employers of painters, construction and maintenance are as follows:
|Painting and wall covering contractors||39%|
|Residential building construction||4%|
|Nonresidential building construction||2%|
Painters work on a variety of structures, including bridges, machinery, and the interiors and exteriors of buildings. Painting requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may work at extreme heights or in uncomfortable positions; some painters are suspended by ropes or cables as they work.
Painters typically work both indoors and outdoors. When working outside or in confined spaces, painters may be exposed to extreme temperatures.
Painters may need to wear special safety equipment for a job. For example, painters working in confined spaces, such as the inside of a large storage tank, must wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Some painters wear additional clothing and protective eyewear when operating abrasive blasters to remove old coatings. When painting bridges, ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding or harnesses.
Painters risk injury on the job. Common hazards include falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to drywall dust and other irritants.
Most painters work full time. Self-employed painters may be able to set their own schedules. Industrial painters may be required to travel for work. Painting jobs that are outdoors may be seasonal.
Get the education you need: Find schools for Construction and Maintenance Painters near you!
Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.
There are no formal education requirements to become a painter, although some technical schools offer certificates in painting and some workers learn to paint in apprenticeship programs.
Most painters learn their trade on the job. They learn how to prepare surfaces, apply coating, hang wall covering, and match colors. Painters may have to complete additional safety training in order to work with scaffolding and harnesses.
Although less common, workers who have a high school diploma or equivalent and who are at least 18 years old can become painters through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of a typical program, apprentices complete at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training before becoming journey workers. Some apprenticeship programs give preference to veterans.
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.
Those interested in industrial painting can earn several certifications from NACE International Institute or from the Society for Protective Coatings. Courses range from 1 day to several weeks, depending on the certification program and specialty. Applicants also must meet work experience requirements.
The National Association of Home Builders, through the Home Builders Institute, offers Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT), which provides entry-level training for painting and other construction occupations.
Color vision. Painters must be able to identify and differentiate between subtle changes in color.
Customer-service 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.
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 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.
The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance is $45,590. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,570.
The median annual wages for construction and maintenance painters in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Nonresidential building construction||$48,380|
|Residential building construction||$46,080|
|Painting and wall covering contractors||$44,040|
Apprentices make less than fully trained painters, but they receive increases as they learn to do more.
Most painters work full time. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedule.
Employment of painters is projected to grow 5 percent, slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite limited employment growth, about 32,700 openings for painters, construction and maintenance are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020.
The expected increase in new construction will continue to create a need for painters. Investors who sell or lease properties also will require painters’ services. However, many homeowners choose to paint themselves, which will temper employment growth for painters.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2020||Projected Employment, 2030||Change, 2020-30|
|Painters (construction and maintenance)||350,800||369,100||5||18,300|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.