Professional Painter: Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Oct 08, 2019

With on-the-job training it is possible to begin a career as a professional painter. It is also an option to pursue postsecondary training at a technical school before entering this career field. Painters need to understand the optimal temperatures and conditions for applying different types of paint or varnish to surfaces.

Essential Information

Professional painters prepare and paint interior and exterior surfaces. They may work on residential or commercial properties. Job duties for professional painters include removing old paint, priming surfaces, choosing materials, selecting and mixing colors and cleaning up job sites. These individuals may also be responsible for managing employees, handling finances and ensuring customer satisfaction. Painters generally learn their trade on the job or through an apprenticeship.

Required Education On-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for painters, construction and maintenance
Average Salary (2018)* $43,050 for painters, construction and maintenance

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Professional painters work for construction companies, contractors or building management companies and may paint houses, business structures or bridges. They must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and can benefit from an on-the-job apprenticeship or technical school training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that painting jobs were predicted to increase 6% during the 2018-2028 decade, which is as fast as the average for all careers. As of May 2018, the annual average income of painters was $43,050, according to the BLS.

Job Duties

Professional painters begin by preparing surfaces for painting. This may require removing old paint, filling holes and washing walls. Sandpaper, wire brushes, scrapers and abrasive blasting may be used to prepare a surface. Holes and divots are filled with putty, plaster or caulk. Professional painters must also ensure that surfaces are not susceptible to moisture by sealing cracks and corners where building materials meet.

After a surface is clean and ready for paint, professional painters apply primer. Primer selection is based on the location and type of surface being finished. Professional painters must apply primer and paint at the appropriate spread rate and temperature in order to ensure the best results.

Professional painters must have a keen knowledge of color theory. While color selection is ultimately up to the customer, painters must be able to advise clients and understand how to create the appearance their customers seek. They may use varnish, oil or paint additives to derive specific colors and textures. They may also use special techniques to provide decorative and faux finishes. These finishes often require the use of washes, glazes and layering. Professional painters may also use techniques such as sponging, distressing, stippling and color blocking to create effects for their clients.

Job site preparation and clean up must also be handled by professional painters. They may build scaffolding and use drop cloths or tape. Paint spills, dust from sanding and other materials must be cleaned and removed from a completed job site.


In addition to painting, independent contractors have business responsibilities that they must manage. Professional painters must market themselves to generate business and manage finances. They must quote job rates for customers and handle billing and invoicing.

Professional painters must use high-quality products appropriately in order to get the best results. They must ensure that customers are satisfied with the end result and remedy any discrepancies. When employing others, they must make sure that employees are appropriately trained and paid. Ultimately, they are responsible for job site safety and the quality of the work completed by all staff.

Painters are responsible for more than just applying paint to a surface. Their job begins with consulting with the clients about the type of surface and optimal paint options, advising clients on color options, and preparing the surface for painting. They are also responsible for cleaning up the area and any paint spills that may have occurred.

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