Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Summary

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Quick Facts: Construction and Maintenance Painters
2016 Median Pay $37,570 per year
$18.06 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 381,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 23,400

What Construction and Maintenance Painters 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 a Construction and Maintenance Painter

Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance was $37,570 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of painters is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job prospects should be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for painters, construction and maintenance .

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of painters, construction and maintenance with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about painters, construction and maintenance by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Construction and Maintenance Painters Do About this section

Painters, construction and maintenance
Painters sometimes wear self-contained suits for protection.

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

Duties

Painters typically do the following:

  • Cover floors, furniture, and trim with drop cloths, tarps, and masking tape to protect surfaces
  • Remove and replace pictures and outlet and switch covers
  • Install scaffolding and raise ladders
  • Fill holes and cracks with putty or plaster
  • Prepare surfaces by scraping, wire brushing, or sanding to a smooth finish
  • Calculate the size of the area to be painted and the amount of paint needed for the area
  • Apply primers or sealers so the paint will stick to the surface
  • Apply paint or other finishes, using hand brushes, rollers, or sprayers

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.

Work Environment About this section

Painters, construction and maintenance
Many painters work outdoors.

Painters, construction and maintenance held about 381,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of painters, construction and maintenance were as follows:

Self-employed workers 42%
Painting and wall covering contractors 36
Residential building construction 4
Government 3
Nonresidential building construction 2

Painters work on a variety of structures, from bridges to the interiors and exteriors of buildings, and they typically work both indoors and outdoors. Painting requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may be exposed to extreme heights and uncomfortable positions; some painters are suspended by ropes or cables as they work.

Injuries and Illnesses

Painters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to irritants such as drywall dust are common workplace hazards.

Work Schedules

Most painters work full time. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Construction and Maintenance Painter About this section

Painters, construction and maintenance
Some specialty painters may need certification.

Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.

Education

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.

Training

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.

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 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.

Important Qualities

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.

Pay About this section

Construction and Maintenance Painters

Median annual wages, May 2016

Construction trades workers

$42,310

Painters, construction and maintenance

$37,570

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance was $37,570 in May 2016. 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 $24,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,670.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for painters, construction and maintenance in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $52,910
Nonresidential building construction 37,820
Residential building construction 37,620
Painting and wall covering contractors 36,410

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.

Job Outlook About this section

Construction and Maintenance Painters

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Construction trades workers

11%

Total, all occupations

7%

Painters, construction and maintenance

6%

 

Employment of painters is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The expected increase in new construction activity will continue to necessitate 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 the employment growth of painters.

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year. There are no formal education requirements for entry into this job, so many people work as painters for a relatively short time and then move on to other types of work with higher pay or better working conditions.

Employment of painters, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, painters may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, during peak periods of building activity there may be shortages of painters.

Employment projections data for painters, construction and maintenance , 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Painters, construction and maintenance

47-2141 381,500 405,000 6 23,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of painters, construction and maintenance .

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

High school diploma or equivalent $43,600
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $32,230
Painting and coating workers

Painting and Coating Workers

Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics, often with the use of machines.

See How to Become One $35,300
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

No formal educational credential $42,280
Hazardous materials removal workers

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

Hazardous materials (hazmat) removal workers identify and dispose of asbestos, lead, radioactive waste, and other hazardous materials. They also neutralize and clean up materials that are flammable, corrosive, or toxic.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,640
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

No formal educational credential $39,150

Contacts for More Information About this section

Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities for painters, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors, or firms that employ painters.

For more information about painters and training opportunities, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

Home Builders Institute

NCCER

Painting and Decorating Contractors of America

For more information about the work of industrial painters and about opportunities for training and certification as a protective coating specialist, visit

NACE International Institute

Society of Protective Coatings

O*NET

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Painters, Construction and Maintenance,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/painters-construction-and-maintenance.htm (visited December 13, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.