Car Painting Professional: Education Requirements and Job Duties

Sep 13, 2019

Working as a car painting professional requires little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Making your car look sleek and vibrant is the main responsibility of a car painter. They clean the automobiles and apply coats of paint, whether first-time or for repair jobs. No formal education is required, so they gain experience through an apprenticeship or by taking vocational classes in car painting, after which they become certified.

Essential Information

Car painting professionals use special chemicals and power tools to paint automobiles. Prior to painting, they perform maintenance and preparatory work on the vehicle. Car painting professionals usually receive on-the-job training but can also enroll in 1-to-2 year programs at vocational schools.

Required Education High school diploma and on-the-job training provided with employment; certificate and associate's degree programs in auto body and paint or automotive repair available
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% (for painters of transportation equipment);
4% (for automotive body and related repairers)
Median Salary (2018)* $42,280 (for painters of transportation equipment);
$42,730 (for automotive body and related repairers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Car Painting Professionals

Car painting professionals typically learn on the job by working under an experienced professional for several months. Employers generally prefer to train applicants with a high school diploma. Car painting trainees may start out with simple tasks, such as preparing vehicles for painting. As they gain experience, trainees can take on additional duties, such as paint mixing and application.

Car painting classes are usually offered at some vocational schools as part of the curriculum for auto body and paint or automotive repair programs. These programs result in a certificate or associate's degree and may offer an alternative to on-the-job training. Students learn how to properly identify colors and apply paints to different types of automobiles. Classes relevant to car painting may include paint application and finishes, paint tinting, detailing, auto body refinishing and surface preparation.


Voluntary certification for car painting professionals is available through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). In order to become ASE-certified, car painting professionals must pass the painting and refinishing test in the ASE collision repair and refinish test series. To qualify, painters must have a minimum of two years of car painting experience or a combination of relevant education and experience. ASE-certified car painting professionals must get re-certified every five years.

Job Duties

Car painting professionals must first prepare vehicles for painting by properly cleaning them, removing any dirt, dust or other debris. They check to see if certain parts need to be replaced, protected, or sanded to ensure the paint job can be properly done. Painters often wash cars with a special chemical to prepare them for painting. If multiple colors are being used, certain portions of the car are masked with tape and paper to ensure that each part of the car receives the correct color.

Car painting professionals prepare the chemical and paint mixture to match the car's current color or the customer's requested color. Some car painters operate machinery that performs the coating and painting. Others apply paint to the car using manual tools, such as spray guns. When the paint dries, car painting professionals polish the vehicle by wet-sanding and buffing.

A car painter prepares vehicles for paint jobs, and then proceeds to give them color. Car painters may have a high school diploma, and they learn their skills from on-the-job experience or by completing an associate degree program. Certification is beneficial to job potential.

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