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Automotive Painting Career and Training Program Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a automotive painter. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training programs, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

A training program for automotive painting typically lasts for one year and prepares students for the different stages involved in painting a vehicle, such as sanding, tinting, enamel application, and refinishing. These training programs are often set in a technical or vocational school and may qualify graduates to test for an Automotive Standard of Excellence certificate.

Essential Information

Automotive painters work in independent repair shops, collision centers and car manufacturing factories, or they may be self-employed. Many technical and vocational schools offer training programs, which generally last one year. Students in these programs learn about and get hands-on training in all aspects of vehicle refinishing. Graduates of accredited programs can qualify for national certification.

Required Education One-year training program in automotive painting
Certification Voluntary national certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5.9% for painters of transportation equipment
Median Salary (2015)* $41,150 for painters of transportation equipment

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Automotive Painting Career Information

Automotive painters work with all types of automobiles to ensure that they have a coat of paint that is precisely and evenly applied. Factories hire some painters to coat newly manufactured cars, and auto body repair shops hire others to help restore the paint to its natural state after damage has been done.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the jobs for transportation equipment painters are expected to grow 5.9% between 2014 and 2024, which is about average compared to all occupations. In 2015, transportation equipment painters, including automotive painters, earned an annual median salary of $41,150, the BLS reported.

Training Program Information

Many automotive painters get their start working as assistants in auto-repair shops and help with tasks such as cleaning surfaces, taping sections and mixing paint. These jobs frequently provide enough informal training for a painter to be competent for the job--but to earn a certification, a painter must go through a credentialed training program.

The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) is the national standard for certification, and all schools that offer painting programs must be accredited through NATEF. Many vocational, technical and local community schools offer automotive painting programs that generally last one year. To enter these programs, an applicant must be at least 16 years of age and have a high school diploma or its equivalent.

In these technical programs, a student learns the skills necessary to efficiently and professionally paint a vehicle. Areas of focus include sanding, priming, preparing paint, identifying color, tinting, applying urethane enamel and detailing. Once a student has completed a program, they can earn Automotive Standard of Excellence (ASE) certification in painting and refinishing. This credential is accepted and recognized by all major automotive companies and shops.

There are a number of settings where an automotive painter might be employed, and these include collision centers, repair garages, or production factories. Some automotive painters are self-employed and have their own businesses. They often complete training programs at vocational schools or community colleges.


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