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Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhpyAMBkwIQ.
Quick Facts: Construction and Maintenance Painters
2020 Median Pay $42,130 per year
$20.25 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, 2020 350,800
Job Outlook, 2020-30 5% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 18,300

What Construction and Maintenance Painters Do

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

Work Environment

Painters work indoors and outdoors. Painting is physically demanding and requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may work at extreme heights or in uncomfortable positions.

How to Become a Construction and Maintenance Painter

Painters typically 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 $42,130 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of painters, construction and maintenance is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, 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.

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, large machinery and equipment, and bridges and other structures.

Duties

Painters typically do the following:

  • Protect floors, furniture, and trim by covering surfaces with drop cloths and tarps and securing with tape
  • Install scaffolding and raise ladders
  • Fill holes and cracks with putty or plaster
  • Prepare surfaces by removing outlet and switch covers and 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, coatings, or other finishes, using hand brushes, rollers, or sprayers

Painters apply liquid coatings and other sealers that dry into solids to add texture or color to interiors and to protect exterior surfaces from damage caused by weather, sunlight, and pollution.

For each job, painters must choose the correct tool, such as a roller, power sprayer, or brush. There are several ways to apply paint, and deciding on which tool to use typically depends on both the type of surface to be painted and the characteristics of the paint. Some employers require painters to provide their own tools

The following are types of painters:

Commercial painters prepare and paint the interiors and exteriors of offices, businesses, and other nonresidential buildings. Commercial painters may work with and be responsible for large areas due to the size of buildings involved in nonresidential projects.

Industrial painters prepare and paint large machinery, such as industrial or manufacturing equipment; vehicles, such as cars and ships; and structures, such as bridges and water towers. Industrial painters may also apply special coating materials to structure or equipment surfaces to protect them from corrosion or deterioration.

Industrial painters must contain the area in which they are working to prevent hazardous materials from contaminating the environment and exposing the public to risks. Industrial and commercial painters also must perform quality control and quality assurance to ensure that they find mistakes, meet technical specifications, and use materials appropriately.

Residential painters prepare and paint the interiors and exteriors of homes and multifamily residential buildings. Residential painters may interact with customers living in the home while painting is in progress. As a result, residential painters may need to adjust their hours or work plans to accommodate customer needs or schedules.

Work Environment About this section

Painters, construction and maintenance
Many painters work outdoors.

Painters, construction and maintenance held about 350,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of painters, construction and maintenance were as follows:

Painting and wall covering contractors 39%
Self-employed workers 39
Residential building construction 4
Government 2
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.

Injuries and Illnesses

Painters risk injury on the job. Common hazards include falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to drywall dust and other irritants.

Work Schedules

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.

How to Become a Construction and Maintenance Painter About this section

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

Painters typically 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. Some technical schools offer optional certificates in painting.

Training

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.

Advancement

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. 

Important Qualities

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.

Pay About this section

Construction and Maintenance Painters

Median annual wages, May 2020

Construction trades workers

$47,480

Painters, construction and maintenance

$42,130

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance was $42,130 in May 2020. 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 $28,290, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,470.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for painters, construction and maintenance in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $58,040
Nonresidential building construction 43,930
Residential building construction 42,680
Painting and wall covering contractors 40,850

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 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Construction trades workers

5%

Painters, construction and maintenance

5%

 

Employment of painters, construction and maintenance is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, 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.

Employment

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.

Employment projections data for painters, construction and maintenance , 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Painters, construction and maintenance

47-2141 350,800 369,100 5 18,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 OEWS 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 on Entry-Level Education 2020 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Carpenters Carpenters

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

High school diploma or equivalent $49,520
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 $37,080
Painting and coating workers Painting and Coating Workers

Painting and coating workers apply finishes, often using machines, to a range of products.

See How to Become One $38,740
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting.

No formal educational credential $48,830
Hazardous materials removal workers Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

Hazardous materials removal workers identify and dispose of harmful substances such as asbestos, lead, and radioactive waste.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,270
Tile and marble setters Flooring Installers and Tile and Stone Setters

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, tile, and other materials.

No formal educational credential $43,210

Contacts for More Information About this section

Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship 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. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

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 pre-apprenticeship training, visit

Home Builders Institute

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

For information about opportunities for military veterans, visit:

Helmets to Hardhats

O*NET

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Painters, Construction and Maintenance,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/painters-construction-and-maintenance.htm (visited September 22, 2021).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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 and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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).

2020 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.

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, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

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 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2020 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2020, the median annual wage for all workers was $41,950.