Some specialty painters may need certification.
Painters typically 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. Some technical schools offer optional certificates in painting.
Painters typically learn on the job: 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, painting apprenticeships lasting 3 or 4 years may be available for candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent and who are at least 18 years old. For example, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, in conjunction with the Finishing Trades Institute, offers a 3-year apprenticeship for painters. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical training and paid on-the-job training before becoming journey workers. Apprenticeship program requirements differ based on the type of program and by region.
Although most painters learn their trade on the job or through an apprenticeship, some new workers enter training programs offered by the hiring contractor.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides certification for lead paint abatement.
Some states require licensing for lead paint removal. Contact your state’s licensing board for more information.
Employers may require workers to have a driver’s license to commute to jobsites.
After gaining experience, painters may advance to supervisors, superintendents, or managers, directing other painters and the jobsite. Painters may also work as estimators or start their own business.
Painters who work in a union may have advancement opportunities within the organization as a union official, training instructor, or business manager.
Ability to work at heights. Painters must be able to work at heights on scaffolding, lifts, and ladders.
Communication skills. Painters interact with clients and must be able to convey information in order to ensure accuracy of color selection and application techniques. Painters must also communicate with coworkers.
Detail oriented. Painters must be precise when creating or painting edges for overall quality of appearance.
Physical stamina. Painters should be able to stay physically active for many hours and spend much of the workday standing or climbing ladders.
Physical strength. Painters must be able to lift at least 50 pounds and move heavy items during the course of a job.