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Job Outlook for:
Painters, Construction and Maintenance

SOC: 47-2141        OOH: U268

Painters, Construction and Maintenance
Quick Stats
Total Jobs in 2016 381,500
Expected Growth 6%    (As fast as average)
New Jobs To Be Added
from 2016 to 2026
Median Pay $35,000 to $54,999



Employment Outlook for Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Employment of painters is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The expected increase in new construction activity will continue to necessitate a need for painters. Investors who sell or lease properties also will require painters’ services. However, many homeowners choose to paint themselves, which will temper the employment growth of painters.

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year. There are no formal education requirements for entry into this job, so many people work as painters for a relatively short time and then move on to other types of work with higher pay or better working conditions.

Employment of painters, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, painters may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, during peak periods of building activity there may be shortages of painters.




Typical Pay for Painters, Construction and Maintenance

The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance was $37,570 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,670.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for painters, construction and maintenance in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $52,910
Nonresidential building construction 37,820
Residential building construction 37,620
Painting and wall covering contractors 36,410

Apprentices make less than fully trained painters, but they receive increases as they learn to do more.

Most painters work full time. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedule.


What Painters, Construction and Maintenance Do All Day

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.


Painters typically do the following:

  • Cover floors, furniture, and trim with drop cloths, tarps, and masking tape to protect surfaces
  • Remove and replace pictures and outlet and switch covers
  • Install scaffolding and raise ladders
  • Fill holes and cracks with putty or plaster
  • Prepare surfaces 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 or other finishes, using hand brushes, rollers, or sprayers

Paints and other sealers protect surfaces from damage caused by weather, sunlight, and pollution.

There are several ways to apply paint to a surface, and painters must choose the correct tool for each job, such as a roller, power sprayer, or brush. Choosing the right tool typically depends on the type of surface to be painted and the characteristics of the paint to be used. Some employers require painters to provide their own equipment.

Painters may wear special safety equipment for a job. For example, painters working in confined spaces, such as the inside of a large storage tank, must wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Some painters wear additional clothing and protective eyewear when operating abrasive blasters to remove old coatings. When painting bridges, ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding or harnesses.



Work Environment for Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Painters, construction and maintenance held about 381,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of painters, construction and maintenance were as follows:

Self-employed workers 42%
Painting and wall covering contractors 36
Residential building construction 4
Government 3
Nonresidential building construction 2

Painters work on a variety of structures, from bridges to the interiors and exteriors of buildings, and they typically work both indoors and outdoors. Painting requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may be exposed to extreme heights and uncomfortable positions; some painters are suspended by ropes or cables as they work.

Injuries and Illnesses

Painters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to irritants such as drywall dust are common workplace hazards.

Work Schedules

Most painters work full time. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedules.



How To Become a Construction and Maintenance Painter

Most painters learn their trade on the job. No formal education is typically required to enter the occupation.


There are no formal education requirements to become a painter, although some technical schools offer certificates in painting and some workers learn to paint in apprenticeship programs.


Most painters learn their trade on the job. They learn how to prepare surfaces, apply coating, hang wall covering, and match colors. Painters may have to complete additional safety training in order to work with scaffolding and harnesses.

Although less common, workers who have a high school diploma or equivalent and who are at least 18 years old can become painters through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of a typical program, apprentices complete at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training before becoming journey workers. Some apprenticeship programs give preference to veterans.

Although the vast majority of workers learn their trade on the job or through an apprenticeship, some contractors offer their own training program for new workers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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 National Association of Home Builders, through the Home Builders Institute, offers Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training (PACT), which provides entry-level training for painting and other construction occupations.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Painters must be able to identify and differentiate between subtle changes in color.

Customer-service skills. Painters who work in residential settings often interact with clients. They must communicate with clients in order to help select colors and application techniques.

Detail oriented. Painters must be precise when creating or painting edges, because minor flaws can be noticeable.

Physical stamina. Painters should be able to stay physically active for many hours, because they spend much of the workday standing with their arms extended while climbing ladders.

Physical strength. Painters must be able to lift up to 50 pounds, and they move numerous heavy items during the course of a job. For example, a 5-gallon bucket of paint weighs more than 40 pounds.






"Painters, Construction and Maintenance"   SOC:  47-2141     OOH Code: U268

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