|Number of Jobs:||72,100|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Construction Jobs||#6|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#87|
From the sepia- and mahogany-coated bridges we traverse each day to the silver- and dark-hued buildings that house our corporate offices, the meticulous handiwork of painters surrounds us at every turn. Ron Yarbrough, founder and president of Pro-Spec Painting, Inc., says the painting profession’s focus areas are endless—there’s something for everyone. “I think there are tremendous opportunities for those that want to enter the painting trade. And I think that [the field] has so many different segments to it—all the way from infrastructure to new construction of commercial buildings and many types of decorative art and restoration.” The will and patience to do the work is all it takes to succeed, he adds. “I think it’s a fabulous area to enter. People who are really committed to learning the trade can do well at it. If they set their goals high, they can make a really good living at it.” Painters commonly work for building finishing contractors or in the residential building construction industry. Unlike carpenters, painters typically don’t build frameworks and structures; they apply paint, stain, and coatings to them.
Painters held 390,500 jobs in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). About 29 percent of them worked in the painting and wall covering contractor industry, while more than half were self-employed. The field’s growth rate for this decade is about 18 percent, which is nearly equal to that of all other professions. A little more than 70,000 painting jobs will be added between 2010 and 2020.
The average painter raked in a little more than $35,000 in 2011, or approximately $17.04 per hour. The highest-paid took home about $60,170, while the lowest-paid earned $23,170 in that same period. The motion picture and video and electric power generation, transmission, and distribution industries compensate painters best. Some of the highest-earning metropolitan areas in the profession are in Illinois—Kankakee, Champaign, and Chicago among them.
As with many construction jobs, those who successfully complete apprenticeships best-position themselves for painting careers. For painters, apprenticeships can last up to four years. Apprentices must have a high school diploma or its equivalent before they are eligible to complete the requisite 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training. Common lessons focus on color recognition (which colors match each other best), using and caring for painting tools and equipment, safety practices, application techniques, and wood finishing. Prospective painters may also choose to attend two-year technical schools that offer courses linked to union and contractor organization apprenticeships. Credits amassed from an apprenticeship typically count toward an associate’s degree.
Aside from nailing color-recognition, supreme customer-service skills, and stamina, painters should always adhere to dress codes, Yarbrough says. “One has to have a professional appearance and a good demeanor because you’re working in the presence of the customer and the public,” he says.