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Painter and decorator

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Painters and decorators prepare and apply paint, wallpaper and finishes to different surfaces.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. You could start as a painter and decorator's labourer or 'mate' and learn on the job. You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You could take a college course in basic painting and decorating, which may help you when looking for a trainee position.

You'll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on most building sites.

Go Construct has more information about careers in painting and decorating.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills and a high level of attention to detail
  • number skills to work out surface areas and quantities
  • the ability to follow job instructions

3. What you'll do

You'll work on domestic, commercial or industrial jobs. These can range from redecorating homes or offices to applying heavy-duty finishes to structures like bridges. You'd follow a job plan drawn up by your client.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • measuring surface areas and working out how much paint or wall covering is needed
  • preparing the materials you need
  • stripping off old wallpaper or layers of paint
  • filling holes and cracks and making sure surfaces are level
  • covering surfaces with primer and undercoat
  • mixing paint to the right shade, often using computerised colour-matching equipment
  • applying coats of paint, hanging wallpaper and adding special finishes like glazes or marbling
  • tidying up after finishing, and cleaning your tools

On industrial jobs, you'll use abrasive methods like sandblasting to remove old paintwork, and apply finishes with spray-painting equipment.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £21,000 to £25,000

Highly Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

Self-employed painters and decorators set their own pay rates.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work a standard 35 to 40 hour week. You may have to work overtime to meet a deadline. You'll travel from site to site to complete jobs.

Some of the work will involve working at height from ladders, scaffolding or a safety cradle. You'll wear protective clothing on all jobs.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a team supervisor or move into related areas like estimating, contract management, interior or set design, or apprentice training.

You could also work in heritage conservation, or set up your own business.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018