Painting workers
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Paint, coat, or decorate articles, such as furniture, glass, plateware, pottery, jewelry, toys, books, or leather.
Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Painting and coating workers typically do the following:

  • Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products
  • Select the paint or coating needed for the job
  • Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated
  • Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating
  • Apply paint or coating
  • Measure the thickness of paint or coating material applied
  • Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas

Painting and coating workers apply paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other types of liquid treatments to finish and protect products. They often use machines to spread the liquid over large surfaces but may use handtools on small items or hard-to-reach surfaces.

Before workers apply the paint or other coating, they prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. They also may cover portions of the product with tape and paper to prevent the paint or coating from touching those areas.

After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. Common techniques include spraying products with paint or coating and dipping items in a large vat of paint or other coating. Many factories use automated painting systems. Workers may measure the paint thickness using a coating thickness gauge or painter meter.

The following are examples of types of painting and coating workers:

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders use spraying or rolling machines to apply lacquer, enamel, or other coatings to a variety of products, such as cars, boats, and glassware. These workers position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine. During the process, they program the machine, tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to touch up flaws.

Painting, coating, and decorating workers use manual spray guns, pens, or brushes to apply various coatings to furniture, glass, pottery, toys, books, and other products. They also may immerse pieces into the liquid and place the coated items into ovens or dryers to harden the finishes. In addition, these workers examine products to be sure that they meet specifications.

For information about workers who paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structures, see the profile on construction and maintenance painters.

Median salary: $34,780 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $28,030 and $44,090.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for painting workers
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 Painting, Coating, and Decorating Workers
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 painting, coating, and decorating workers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (60%)
  • Hazardous Conditions (54%)
  • Time Pressure (52%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Painting, Coating, and Decorating Workers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Artistic ability
Some painting and coating workers make elaborate or decorative designs.
Color vision
Workers must be able to blend new paint colors in order to match existing colors on a surface.
Mechanical skills
Workers must be able to operate and maintain sprayers that apply paints and coatings.
Physical stamina
Workers may have to squat or bend frequently and stand for extended periods.
Physical strength
Workers may need to lift heavy objects. Some products that are painted or coated may weigh more than 50 pounds.
Injury and Illness
About 105 painting, coating, and decorating workers become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 82% of other careers. The most common specific concerns detailed following.
Sprains, strains, tears
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by painting, coating, and decorating workers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), painting, coating, and decorating workers 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 painting workers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for painting, coating, and decorating workers

Painting and coating workers usually need a high school diploma or equivalent for entry-level positions. However, some employers hire candidates who do not have formal educational credentials.

Some automotive painters attend vocational-technical programs in which they receive practical instruction in mixing and applying different types of paint.

Education level of Painting workers
Only 4% of painting workers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by painting workers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
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 Painting workers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most painting, coating, and decorating workers? 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 painting, coating, and decorating workers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where painting, coating, and decorating workers 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 painting workers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for painting workers.
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 painting workers 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 Painting workers (ACS)
7% of Painting workers 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 7% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 67% 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 painting workers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$36K$36K$29K$33K$50K$51K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Painting workers and gender
With 11% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 78% of careers.
Gender of Painting workers
Men (89%)
Women (11%)
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 (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%, and the difference for painting workers tops that, with the median salary for men 38% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Painting workers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Painting workers.
Race/origin of painting workers
White (73% )
Black (12% )
Other (9% )
Asian (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (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.
$31K$32K$32K$33K$35K$36K$37K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherAmerican IndianBlackHispanicAsianMultiracialWhite
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.