Vehicle Painting Career Information and Requirements

Sep 22, 2019

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

Vehicle painting does not typically have formal education requirements. On the job training can provide adequate knowledge of cleaning, masking and painting vehicles. Training is also available through vocational or technical schools, and working for a vehicle manufacturer may require this kind of education.

Essential Information

Vehicle painting - also called transportation equipment painting - involves cleaning, masking and painting. Painters can enter the field directly out of high school or enroll in a technical or community college program to gain experience. Some employers don't even require a high school diploma, just a period of on-the-job training.

Required Education High school diploma or GED certificate is most common
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 5%* for transportation equipment painters
Median Annual Salary (2018) $31,050* for painting, coating, and decorating workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information for Vehicle Painting

Job Description

Vehicle painting begins with preparing the surface of the vehicle. Preparation includes carefully cleaning the surface, removing dust and dirt and washing metal parts with chemicals to protect them from corrosion. Next, painters mask, or cover using tape and paper, areas that are not to be painted. Once the vehicle is ready, painters use manual or automatic spray guns to administer the coatings, repeating the process several times to create a thick, protective covering.

Vehicle painters typically work in ventilated, indoor booths. Painters wear masks or respirators to minimize exposure to potentially dangerous fumes.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for transportation equipment painters were expected to increase by 5 percent between 2018 and 2028. Mean annual wages for painters, coaters and decorators in the automotive repair and maintenance industry were $33,960 as of May 2018, per the BLS. Experienced painters might become coating inspectors, sales representatives or paint experts or open their own businesses.

Requirements for Vehicle Painting

Entry-Level Positions

Although manufacturers require vehicle painters to have earned a high school diploma, employers in other sectors might hire candidates who have not completed high school or earned a GED certificate. Entry-level employees learn on-the-job, and training can last from a few days to several months. New hires generally begin with routine tasks, such as removing trim, preparing surfaces and polishing finished work.

Postsecondary School Entry-Level Positions

Prospective candidates also might acquire training through community college or technical certificate programs. Programs might last from three months to one year. Students learn to prep vehicles for paint, including mixing paints and refinishing work. Students also might learn to remove vehicle parts and use spray guns. Graduates are prepared to become vehicle painters or assistants.

Vehicle painters are knowledgeable about the process of cleaning, masking and painting vehicles. They may learn through on-the-job training or complete a postsecondary course or training program and can work for manufacturers or for automotive repair locations.

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