Construction and Maintenance Painters
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Paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structural surfaces, using brushes, rollers, and spray guns. May remove old paint to prepare surface prior to painting. May mix colors or oils to obtain desired color or consistency.
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

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.

Median salary: $42,130 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $34,300 and $55,590.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for painters and paperhangers
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Construction and Maintenance Painters
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of construction and maintenance painters who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health (65%)
  • Time Pressure (61%)
  • High Places (57%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (57%)
  • Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites (51%)
  • Hazardous Conditions (33%)
  • Consequence of Error (31%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Construction and Maintenance Painters? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
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.
Injury and Illness
About 146 construction and maintenance painters become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 88% of other careers. The most common specific illnesses or injuries are detailed following.
Soreness and pain
Sprains, strains, tears
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by construction and maintenance painters
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction and maintenance painters typically hold no formal educational credential.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as painters and paperhangers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for construction and maintenance painters

There are no formal education requirements to become a painter. Some technical schools offer optional certificates in painting.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for construction and maintenance painters

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.

Education level of Painters and paperhangers
Only 5% of painters and paperhangers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by painters and paperhangers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
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Programs recommended by the Department of Education
The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click the program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.
Number of degrees awarded in 2018
Education level of awarded degrees
Gender of graduates
Race/origin of graduates
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Painters and paperhangers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most construction and maintenance painters? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as construction and maintenance painters. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where construction and maintenance painters earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for painters and paperhangers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for painters and paperhangers.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which painters and paperhangers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Painters and paperhangers (ACS for all specialties)
17% of Painters and paperhangers are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 17% part-time workers, this occupation has a higher percentage of part-time workers than 61% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of painters and paperhangers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$30K$30K$29K$28K$37K$42K$42K$52K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Painters and paperhangers and gender
With 5% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 86% of careers.
Gender of Painters and paperhangers
Men (95%)
Women (5%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for painters and paperhangers, with the median salary for men 16% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Painters and paperhangers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Painters and paperhangers.
Race/origin of painters and paperhangers
White (70% )
Other (19% )
Black (5% )
Hispanic (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Asian (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
$27K$27K$28K$29K$31K$31K$40K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherHispanicMultiracialAmerican IndianWhiteBlackAsianPacific Islander
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.