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(5.2 out of 10)

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14.6 percent

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The handiwork of painters surrounds us at every turn: Painters take care of the outside of buildings, city infrastructure and any kind of new architecture development. 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. "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 316,200 jobs in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Just over half of painters are self-employed, and one-third work in the painting and wall covering contractors industry. A little more than 62,600 painting jobs will be added between 2012 and 2022, a growth rate of 19.8 percent, which is almost double the 11 percent average growth rate for all other professions.


The average painter brought in a little more than $38,590 in 2012, or approximately $18.55 per hour. The highest-paid took home about $60,240 while the lowest-paid earned $22,980 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 for the profession are Kankakee-Bradley, Ill., Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $46,080
Median $35,190
25th Percentile $28,040


As with many construction jobs, those who successfully complete apprenticeships best-position themselves for successful 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 include aesthetics, such as how to adequately match colors, as well as 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 gained from apprenticeships typically count toward an associate’s degree.

Reviews & Advice

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.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level good Low
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Kimberly Palmer.

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