Skilled Trades Careers

How to Become a Painter in America in 2023

DateDecember 12, 2023
how to become a painter in america

Do you enjoy painting, or helping new and remodeled buildings look their best? If so, you might be interested in learning how to become a painter.

Being a painter takes a lot more than splashing a coat of paint across some fresh drywall. It's a valuable skilled trade, and yet there's little required formal training, making it accessible to people who have a less robust education.

Painting is a vital part of the construction and home improvement industry, but also extends to furniture painting, custom car painting, and other fields. Employees in different types of painting businesses are likely to have specialized areas of expertise that allow them to do high-quality work efficiently.

Sound like an ideal career? This guide will get you started on the path to becoming a professional painter with SkillHero. Claim your free account now, then finish reading this article so you can put together a plan of action.

What is a painter and what do they do at work?

Painters are skilled tradespeople who apply paint, varnish, and other coatings to surfaces. They work in a variety of settings, including residential, commercial, and industrial spaces.

A typical day at work might involve preparing surfaces for painting by sanding, cleaning, and applying primer, then using brushes, rollers, or spray guns to apply the paint.

Tasks such as matching and mixing paint colors, protecting surfaces not being painted, and completing touch-ups or repairs as needed may also be included. Painters must have a keen eye for detail, good color sense, and knowledge of different painting techniques and materials.

Painting has a number of unique trade paths that appeal to people with different interests. These paths include automotive painting, decorative painting, commercial, industrial, marine, residential, and of course being a general painter.

While all of these paths involve applying paint, the actual tasks vary distinctly.

A decorative painter might spend their day creating artistic designs, faux finishes, and decorative plasterwork to enhance the aesthetics of a space. An industrial painter might focus on applying protective coatings to steel structures or large industrial equipment, to prevent corrosion and damage from harsh environmental conditions.

Depending on the location and the type of paint, the work may include using tools like ladders, bucket lifts, and protective masks or eyewear.

Is it hard to become a painter?

Becoming a professional painter requires dedication and proficiency in multiple skills. Individuals interested in this field must possess the ability to work with precision and a strong attention to detail, and be able to distinguish between colors and shades. Physical stamina is crucial as the job often involves standing for long periods or working in uncomfortable positions.

While the path to becoming a skilled painter can be challenging, SkillHero offers resources, training, and opportunities to help you find success in the trade. Claim your free account today and take the first step toward a rewarding career as a licensed painter contractor.

What is the average salary for painters?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for average painters in America start around $32,510 for apprentices, $46,090 for journeymen painters, and $72,160 for masters. The median wage is also impacted by location, industry, and additional skills or certifications.

painter average salary in america skillhero

Painting is a necessary trade with over 29,000 expected annual job openings, but it's less likely to include high-stress situations or require a college education compared to other trade careers. As an employee or an independent contractor you can expect many professional opportunities at respectable pay rates.

How to become a painter in the United States

From obtaining the necessary training to gaining on-the-job experience, professional painting requires hard work and dedication. And if you're ready to take the next step, sign up for a free SkillHero account to access all of our resources (including up-to-date listings of openings for painters).

Get a high school diploma or similar credential

In order to pursue a painting license in some states, a high school diploma or similar credential may be required as part of the process. This educational requirement ensures that painters have a foundational level of academic knowledge before entering the field.

In lieu of a high school diploma, some states accept a GED or a vocational training certificate as an alternative credential. Obtaining this level of education sets you up for success in your trade and gives you access to a wider range of career opportunities in the painting industry.

Post-secondary education is not required to work in this field, however obtaining a college degree or taking a few college-level courses may be helpful in qualifying for advanced positions.

Create a skilled trade resume

A strong resume is essential in the skilled trades, including painting. It showcases your education, experience, skills, and certifications, giving potential employers a clear picture of your qualifications.

SkillHero provides a free resume builder that makes it easy to create, update, and share a professional resume tailored to your painting career. It adds your data to a clean resume template automatically and has a built-in database of vetted skills to help you optimize your presentation.

With just a few clicks, you can share your resume with employers or export it to apply for jobs not listed on SkillHero.

Find an apprenticeship

Finding an apprenticeship is a great way to kickstart a career in skilled trades. Start by connecting with other tradespeople in your field. You can do this easily on SkillHero via the "Connections" tab, or in person at trade shows or by visiting local companies.

Networking with other professionals in your field can open up all kinds of opportunities, and finding an apprenticeship among other motivated employees is your first big networking goal.

Acquire and upgrade certifications

Painting certifications are essential for professional painters to demonstrate their skills and expertise. The process for acquiring and upgrading these certifications involves meeting specific requirements set by each state's licensing board. These can include a formal education, apprenticeship hours, and passing certification exams.

Education and training are important components of the certification process, as they provide painters with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in their trade. Training programs may cover topics such as surface preparation, paint application techniques, and safety protocols.

SkillHero can help you navigate the process of acquiring and upgrading your certifications by keeping you updated on local opportunities and helping you stay on the industry's cutting edge.

Who should become a painter?

Becoming a skilled painter requires a unique blend of work ethic, patience, and attention to detail. This skilled trade is somewhat unique because it requires creativity and attention to aesthetic as well as manual labor. It's also less likely to include high-stress situations like some tradespeople who are on call for emergencies.

People who enjoy careers as professional painters often have a knack for design and a desire for predictable work environments that allow them to make the world a more welcoming place. While some technical knowledge is required, this trade is much more creative than most.

Ready to explore opportunities in the painting industry? Sign up for a free SkillHero account to find training programs, online tools, and potential job and apprenticeship opportunities. Join our community of skilled trades professionals and students so you can meet your peers and benefit from their experience.