All You Need To Know About A Painter Career

You think about becoming a painter but want to get some additional information before making your final career choice?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about being a painter in the following chapters.

Not only will you learn how much you can make as a commercial painter, but you will also learn a lot about job satisfaction, job prospects, future outlook, work-life balance, educational requirements, duties, responsibilities and much more.

I also provide you with an extensive FAQ section at the end of this article where the most common questions about working as a painter will be answered.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of whether you still want to become a painter or rather want to go for a different career instead.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

What does a Painter do?

Painters apply paint indoors as well as outdoors to improve the looks of house fronts and walls.

They also apply decorative finishes to exterior and interior surfaces.

Apart from that, they are also responsible for removing old house front material and also repairing minor blemishes on walls before applying new paint and finishes.

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Responsibilities & Duties of a Painter

  • Fixing minor issues on house fronts
  • Fixing optical issues on walls
  • Applying paint on interior and exterior surfaces
  • Preparing estimates of costs for customers
  • Making house fronts water-resistant by applying suitable paint
  • Mixing paints
  • Matching paints to other decorative surfaces
  • Removing old paint
  • Repairing holes
  • Advising clients on what paint they need
  • Buying paint and other painting equipment
  • Making sure that safety standards are met
  • Meeting rules and regulatory requirements related to painting

What a Typical Day of a Painter looks like?

Painters usually get to work between 7 and 9 a.m.

After getting basic instructions from their boss regarding what they should work on that day and where they should work, they load their trucks with painting equipment and drive to their final working location.

After getting to their clients, they start with their actual work and paint interior or exterior walls all day long.

They also fix minor optical issues before painting to get the best possible results.

After working in this hands-on manner for many hours, most painters finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Painter Salary 2021

Painter salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $64,000> $31.93
Top 25 %$53,000 – $59,000$26.42 – $29.46
Bottom 25 %$31,000 – $35,000$15.39 – $17.48
Bottom 10 %$24,000 – $28,000$11.88 – $13.91
Range$24,000 – $67,000$11.88 – $33.47
Average (Mean)$44,000$21.95
Median$41,000$20.39

Painter salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$24,000 – $29,000$11.88 – $14.43
Junior$27,000 – $36,000$13.47 – $17.94
Professional$33,000 – $41,000$16.37 – $20.48
Senior Professional$39,000 – $48,000$19.39 – $23.94
Expert$46,000 – $57,000$22.91 – $28.44
Top Expert$55,000 – $67,000$27.42 – $33.49

Painter salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$39,400$19.68
Alaska$40,800$20.34
Arizona$38,500$19.23
Arkansas$37,900$18.95
California$48,900$24.37
Colorado$41,200$20.57
Connecticut$42,600$21.28
Delaware$39,700$19.84
District of Columbia$43,300$21.63
Florida$41,800$20.88
Georgia$40,900$20.43
Guam$41,200$20.57
Hawaii$44,700$22.32
Idaho$42,100$21.03
Illinois$41,800$20.89
Indiana$39,600$19.78
Iowa$42,200$21.09
Kansas$39,900$19.93
Kentucky$37,700$18.84
Louisiana$41,600$20.76
Maine$38,500$19.22
Maryland$41,200$20.58
Massachusetts$43,400$21.69
Michigan$40,800$20.37
Minnesota$39,500$19.72
Mississippi$37,300$18.61
Missouri$36,700$18.33
Montana$41,200$20.57
Nebraska$39,600$19.79
Nevada$38,700$19.32
New Hampshire$41,400$20.68
New Jersey$43,300$21.64
New Mexico$40,800$20.37
New York$47,100$23.54
North Carolina$42,400$21.18
North Dakota$41,800$20.89
Ohio$43,600$21.77
Oklahoma$42,100$21.03
Oregon$40,900$20.42
Pennsylvania$43,400$21.69
Rhode Island$41,300$20.63
South Carolina$42,800$21.38
South Dakota$44,100$22.04
Tennessee$41,800$20.87
Texas$40,900$20.42
Utah$39,600$19.78
Vermont$42,900$21.44
Virginia$40,500$20.23
Washington$43,700$21.84
West Virginia$38,800$19.37
Wisconsin$39,500$19.74
Wyoming$37,900$18.92

Job Security of Painters

Painters have pretty poor job security since educational barriers to entry to work in this industry are pretty low and almost everyone can do this job.

Consequently, you will always have to fear losing your job if someone comes along who does better or the same work for a lower salary.

Future Outlook of Painters

Also the future outlook for painters is rather sad since many jobs in this industry will vanish in the near future due to intelligent machines that will be able to do part of the work and fewer painters will be needed.

In turn, you may have a hard time in the job market and may have to accept a pretty low wage.

Working Hours of Painters

Most painters start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Thus, by becoming a painter, you will work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and will have more than enough time for your favorite hobbies or to meet up with your favorite people after work.

Job Satisfaction of Painters

Most painters are not happy with what they are doing for a living since they have to work in a physical manner all day long while they have pretty poor job security and also don’t make good money.

Promotion Opportunities of Painters

Painters have pretty poor job security.

Once you start working as a painter, you will often do the same job for many years or even decades without having prospects of being promoted anytime soon and this can be really frustrating since your efforts at work don’t seem to matter at all in this regard.

Career Levels of Painters

  • Painter intern
  • Painter apprentice
  • Junior painter
  • Senior painter
  • Painter with budget and/or personnel responsibilities
  • Manager of a painting business
  • Owner of a painting business

Fields and Types of Painters

  • Painter focused on exterior surfaces
  • Painter specialized in interior surfaces
  • Painter with expertise in painting and maintaining house fronts
  • Restoration painter
  • Decoration painter
  • Industrial painter
  • Painter focused on mixing paints
  • Painter specialized in applying exotic paints
  • Part-time painter
  • Full-time painter

Educational Requirements for Painters

There are no fancy educational requirements for becoming a painter.

While many other people have to go to college for many years to get their dream jobs, you will only have to finish high school and you will be ready to start your painter career without having to get any further education.

How to become a Painter

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a painter
  2. Apply for an internship at a local painting company
  3. Make a good impression during your internship
  4. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  5. Finish high school with decent grades
  6. Appy for a painter apprenticeship
  7. Master the job interview
  8. Sign your labor contract
  9. Finish your apprenticeship and become a qualified painter
  10. Start your own painting business (optional)

Character Traits you need as a Painter

  • Passion for improving the looks of interior or exterior surfaces
  • Creativity helps you succeed in the long run
  • Motivation to work in a hands-on environment
  • Persistence helps you stay in business
  • Ability to deal with difficult clients in a healthy manner
  • Ability to deal with snarky comments about your career choice
  • Craftsmanship helps as well
  • Patience helps you get your work done
  • Willingness to work in an environment where you will not make good money

Hard Skills for Painters

  • Expertise in mixing paints
  • Knowledge of how to fix minor issues on walls and other surfaces
  • Excellent knowledge of how to paint interior and exterior surfaces
  • Marketing skills help you grow your painting business
  • Digital skills help you promote your business
  • Math skills help you run your business profitably
  • Great customer service is key to staying successful in the long run
  • Knowledge of rules and regulations related to painting
  • Knowledge of safety standards

Soft Skills for Painters

  • Patience for difficult clients
  • Good people skills help you lead a team
  • You should be passionate about painting and making things nice
  • Time management skills help you get things done
  • Good conflict resolution skills help as well
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Motivation to work in a rather boring job
  • Communication is key to growing your business
  • You should be a good listener to meet the expectations of your clients

Exit Options for Painters

There are barely any exit options for painters at all.

Once you work in this field, you will often work as a painter for many years or even decades due to a lack of job alternatives since you will be pretty specialized and will not learn many skills needed in the job market right now.

Painter – Similar Careers

  • Plasterer
  • Wallpaper hanger
  • Artist
  • Architect
  • Decorator
  • Illustrator
  • Art teacher
  • Welder
  • Roofer
  • Carpenter
  • Faller

Painter Career FAQs

Is working as a painter physically demanding?

Working as a painter can be physically demanding since you will work with your hands all day long and will also have to stress your body quite a lot.

However, most often, you will still not have to work in a heavy physical manner compared to welders, roofers or construction workers who often have to stress their bodies much more.

Is working as a painter mentally demanding?

Working as a painter is not greatly mentally demanding since you will just work with your hands instead of your brain.

Sure, you will also have to use your brain to avoid big mistakes.

However, compared to financial analysts and other people who work on complex problems all day long, you as a painter will develop a certain routine soon and don’t have to stress your brain that much.

Is it dangerous to work as a painter?

Being a painter is not dangerous most of the time.

While you will sometimes have to paint exterior house fronts, you will still comply with high safety standards and your risk of suffering from serious accidents at work will be rather low, even though it will be higher compared to working in a classical office job.

How long do painters stay in their jobs?

Painters often stay in their jobs for many years or even decades.

Even though many of them are not really happy with what they are doing for a living, they still continue to work in this field due to a lack of alternatives since they have a pretty hard time finding a job in a different field.

Is it easy for painters to find a new job?

Since almost everyone can become a painter and many people apply for jobs in this industry, you may have a pretty hard time finding a new job as a painter since competition is fierce and many jobs may also vanish in this industry sooner or later.

Is it hard to switch from being a painter to another field of work?

Since painters are pretty specialized in what they are doing, they will also have a pretty hard time switching from being a painter to another field of work and often get trapped in this industry due to a lack of hard skills needed to work in a different industry.

Do painters have a high social status?

Painters have a pretty poor social status.

Even though they do an important job for society, they are often belittled and some people may even make fun of you.

Even your own family and friends may not understand your career choice and you may have to justify it quite often.

Can you help out your family and friends as a painter?

As a painter, you can help out your loved ones quite a lot since you can paint their walls and make sure that everything looks as nice as possible.

Hence, your family and friends don’t have to pay a painter and can save lots of money.

Consequently, your loved ones will be pretty happy about your support and will also be more eager to do good for you in the long run.

Can painters work remotely?

Painters are not able to work remotely since they have to do hands-on work in person.

In turn, this means that you will have to get to work in person every day and this will take away lots of flexibility from you.

Moreover, you will also have to spend lots of time and money commuting to work and back while many other people who are able to work from home don’t have to deal with these issues.

Is it easy to find a partner as a painter?

Since painters don’t make good money and also have rather low job security, they are not considered good providers and therefore often have a pretty hard time finding a partner for a long-term relationship.

Do painters have to work on weekends?

Painters don’t have to work on weekends.

Instead, you can use this time to make nice weekend trips with your family or you could also spend it on your favorite hobbies while garbage collectors or train drivers often have to work during those days.

Do painters have to work on holidays?

As a painter, you also don’t have to work on holidays.

While many other people like waiters have to work during those days, you can spend national holidays with your loved ones.

Do painters have to work at nighttime?

Painters also don’t have to work in the late evening or at nighttime.

Instead, you will work in a regular 9 – 5 environment and will come home from work early quite often, which allows you to meet up with your favorite people after work while investment bankers and consultants who often have to work long hours don’t have this luxury.

Do you have to travel as a painter?

You don’t need to travel as a painter.

While many people who work in demanding office jobs have to travel quite a lot to do business trips, you as a painter will be able to stay at home with your family.

Are painter pensions good?

Since painters are not able to make good money during their active careers, most painters also receive pretty poor pensions and may get into serious financial trouble once they quit their active careers and retire.

Are painter salaries going up?

Painter salaries have not been going up significantly over the past years since almost everyone will be able to work in this field and educational barriers to entry are pretty low.

Moreover, since some jobs will vanish in this industry in the near future, some painters will lose their jobs and salaries in this industry will likely continue to stay relatively low.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a painter?

While you can do good for your clients, you will still not have the same high positive social impact as a painter compared to teachers or professors who can really alter the thought process and the attitude towards life of many people on a daily basis.

How long does it take to become a painter?

Since you will not have to go to college and also don’t need any other fancy education, you can start your painting career right after finishing high school and while many other people have to spend lots of money on education, you can even start making money at a rather early age.

Is it difficult to become a painter?

Becoming a painter is not difficult at all since educational barriers to entry are pretty low and you don’t need a fancy degree to be able to work in this field.

Hence, everyone with a little bit of talent can start out as a painter and you don’t have to meet any special requirements.

Do you need to be smart to work as a painter?

You don’t need to have a high IQ for succeeding as a painter.

What’s much more important than being smart is that you are willing to work with your hands and that you are also really passionate about painting so that you stay happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Do painters have a good work-life balance?

Painters enjoy pretty good work-life balance since they don’t have to work on weekends or holidays and also don’t have to work at nighttime.

Instead, painters have lots of leisure and therefore more than enough time to spend with their families or on their favorite hobbies.

Do painters have to work many extra hours?

Painters don’t have to work many extra hours.

You will just work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and once your workday is over, you will just quit working and get back to work the next morning without the need of working much overtime compared to many other jobs out there.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a painter?

The more experience you get as a painter at a rather young age, the higher your chances to get a job in this field.

Hence, you should start working as an intern in the painting industry rather early in your life so that you gain some experience and make important contacts that could help you find a job in this field later on.

Can painters work part-time?

While painters might be able to work part-time, most of them still work full-time since their hourly wage is often rather low and a part-time job would not enough to make a living from what they are doing.

Do painters work indoors or outdoors?

Painters work indoors as well as outdoors.

Thus, you should be willing to work outdoors during times of extreme heat or cold to stay happy with your job in the long run.

If you are pretty sensitive to climatic conditions, you should not become a painter but become a compliance officer or work in other fields where you can work indoors all day long.

What does the workplace of a painter look like?

As a painter, you will work in many different locations.

However, your working equipment will not change that much and will mainly consist of paint, brushes and other things needed to paint walls and house fronts as nice and efficiently as possible.

You will also have to work outdoors quite often and will also often have to inhale the fumes of paints.

Do you have to look good for working as a painter?

You don’t need to look good for working as a painter.

However, you should still look groomed so that you can represent the company you work for or your own painting company in a proper manner and clients will recommend you to their family or friends.

Is a painter career beneficial for your private life?

A painter career can be beneficial for your private life since you will be able to paint your walls yourself without having to call a painter for external support.

In turn, you will not have to spend lots of money on painting services and can also make sure that all tasks are carried out in high quality.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a painter?

You don’t need to get a college degree for working as a painter.

Instead of getting fancy formal education, you can start your painter career right after finishing high school and what’s much more important than looking good on paper is that you have passion for doing this kind of work and are also willing to work with your hands.

Do you need to be certified to work as a painter?

You don’t need any certifications for becoming a painter.

While you could take courses that show you how to improve your painting skills, you will still learn most things on the job and will not have to get lots of formal education.

How much does it cost to become a painter?

Since you don’t need to get a degree for becoming a painter but can rather start your painting career right after finishing high school, you can become a painter at virtually no cost and can even start making money at a rather young age.

Is being a painter a good career?

Since painters are not able to make good money from what they are doing and also have pretty poor job security, working as a painter cannot be considered a really good idea when all relevant factors are taken into account.

Is it easy to start your own business as a painter?

It is relatively easy to start your own painting business since you don’t need to invest lots of money on equipment and other things upfront but can rather start your business at pretty low costs.

Moreover, you can also start your business on your own and once you get enough clients, you can employ people and scale from there.

Can painters teach themselves?

Painters are able to teach themselves most things they need for succeeding in this field.

You will also learn many things on the job and it is therefore not necessary to get lots of formal education.

Do painters make good money?

Most painters don’t make good money from what they are doing for a living.

Some of them are even barely able to pay their bills and may not be able to afford any luxury at all.

Is it ever too late to become a painter?

It is never too late to become a painter since you don’t need high levels of formal education.

Hence, you can start your career as a painter at any age as long as you are still fit enough to work in a physical manner.

Do painters have to quit their careers early?

Most painters don’t have to quit their careers early.

Even though some painters have to quit their careers early due to physical health problems, most painters are able to work in this field until they reach official retirement age.

What is the hardest thing about working as a painter?

The hardest part about being a painter is that you will often have demanding clients and only minor mistakes may lead to lots of trouble.

Thus, you should have good conflict resolution skills and should also be able to deal with snarky comments related to your work in an emotionally healthy manner.

Can you provide for your family by working as a painter?

Since most painters are not able to make really good money from what they are doing, many painters have a hard time providing for their families.

This is especially true in expensive regions where rents and living costs are pretty high and a painter salary would not be enough to make a living.

Will painters suffer from old-age poverty?

Many painters also suffer from old-age poverty since their pensions are pretty low and they are also not able to save and invest enough money during their active careers.

Consequently, many painters are no longer able to pay their bills once they quit their active careers and retire.

Can painters retire early?

Most painters are not able to retire early since they just don’t make enough money during their active careers and will therefore have to work until they reach official retirement age or sometimes even longer.

Do painters get a fixed or variable salary?

Employed painters mainly get fixed salaries.

However, if you have your own painting business, your income will greatly depend on the volume and the number of clients you have and you will have to deal with huge income swings over time.

Can you get rich as a painter?

It is impossible to get rich as an employed painter.

If you really want to make good money, you should start your own painting business and scale it as much as possible or rather become a dentist or doctor.

Do painters need a second job?

Some painters need a second job since their salaries from their day job will not be enough to cover their expenses.

This is especially true in regions where rents are pretty high and a painter’s salary will not be enough to make a living.

Do you get continuous training as a painter?

While you will get lots of training at the beginning of your career, you will no longer get training after a few years and it will be on you to hone your craft and to become really good at what you are doing for a living.

Do you get sick pay as a painter?

Most painters don’t get sick pay.

Consequently, you should build an emergency fund that you can use during times you get sick and don’t receive an income anymore so that you are still able to pay your bills.

Do painters have a high level of responsibility?

Painters don’t have a high level of responsibility.

Even though their mistakes may lead to minor financial damage, they still don’t have the same high level of responsibility as doctors or police officers whose mistakes could really take away the lives of people.

Can painters work abroad?

Painters are needed all over the world.

However, working conditions and salaries will often be pretty different from what you are used to in your home country and you should therefore inform yourself in this regard to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Is it stressful to work as a painter?

Working as a painter is not really stressful.

While you will have busy times when you have to coordinate many things, you will still have a rather relaxed time at work most days of the week and will also not have to work much overtime which gives you enough time to relax and recover from work.

Is it boring to work as a painter?

Being a painter may become boring in case you are not really passionate about painting since you will do the same things over and over again and may get really unmotivated with what you are doing for a living in the long run.

Is being a painter hard?

While working as a painter can be physically demanding, you will still not have to stress your brain that much and you will also not have to deal with high levels of time pressure.

In turn, you will have a rather relaxed time at work compared to many other people out there.

Are painters at risk of burnout?

Painters are not at great risk of burnout since they don’t have to work in a stressful environment.

Instead, they have a rather relaxed time at work and will not be at great risk of suffering from mental or emotional problems due to their jobs.

Is there a dress code for painters?

There is no fixed dress code for painters.

However, most of the time, you will get workwear from the company you work for so that you are protected from paint dropping on your private clothing.

What kind of painters are paid the most?

The more experience you have as a painter and the faster you get your work done, the more jobs you can carry out and the more value you will be able to provide to customers.

The more value you provide, the more money you will be able to make as a painter in the long run.

What percentage of painters are women?

While around 26% of all painters are women, 74% are men.

Hence, this industry is dominated by men and will also be dominated by men in the near future since not that many women aspire to a career in this field.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a painter?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed as a painter.

What’s much more important is that you have a real passion for what you are doing and that you are willing to spend lots of time honing your craft so that you can deliver excellent results for your clients.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a painter?

You will not be personally liable for mistakes you make as an employed painter most of the time.

However, things may change if you work self-employed and if you are not 100% sure in this regard, you should consult a lawyer to be on the safe side or also get proper insurance to be covered in case of emergency.

Do painters have a high life expectancy?

Painters don’t have a high life expectancy since they often have to inhale paint fumes on a regular basis that may cause serious pulmonary health problems in the long run and many painters are also not able to get proper medical treatment since they simply cannot afford it.

Do painters suffer from sleeping problems?

Since painters work at daytime and don’t have to work in the late evening or even at nighttime, they are not at great risk of suffering from sleeping problems since they are able to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

What states are best for working as a painter?

Since you will not be able to make really good money across states, you should choose a region where living costs are rather low but the demand for painting services is high so that you can make a living from your painting career and don’t need to get a second job to pay your bills.

Who do painters work with?

Painters work with many different clients and it is therefore crucial that you are friendly and also know how to sell yourself well so that clients trust you and also recommend your services.

Is working as a painter cool?

Working as a painter is not considered cool by the general public and you may often have to deal with snarky comments about your career choice.

Can you start a side hustle as a painter?

You can also start side hustles as a painter since you will have lots of leisure.

For instance, you could start a blog or YouTube channels and show people how to paint their walls properly.

By building a strong community, you could also sell products online or monetize your audience with ads in the long run.

Do you have to be creative as a painter?

Creativity helps you succeed as a painter since only if you are creative, you can advise your clients on what colors they should use and so on.

Do painters suffer from being overweight?

Since painters get lots of exercise at work and burn many calories, most painters are able to stay fit and don’t suffer from being overweight.

How employable are painters?

Since almost everyone can do this job, competition is pretty fierce and painters are no longer that employable anymore.

Hence, once you lose your job, you may have a hard time finding a new job in this industry anytime soon.

Are painters happy with their jobs?

Most painters are not happy with their jobs since they are not able to make good money and also have to deal with high levels of insecurity related to their work.

Is working as a painter exciting?

Being a painter is not that exciting since you will do the same things over and over again and if you don’t have a real passion for painting, you may get bored with what you are doing in the long run.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a painter?

Painters don’t have a positive impact on our environment since they often use colors that are harmful to our planet and our ecosystems.

What are the pros and cons of working as a painter?

If you still want to become a painter, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a painting career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/topics/4755/paint-and-coatings-industry/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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