Painting is a skill dating back thousands of years. A painter is needed whenever a home or office space is built or renovated. The trade involves more than just painting. Paper hanging, sealing, staining and faux finishing also are skills common to painters, all of which require detailed preparation and careful selection of materials and tools.

Painters work indoors and out, sometimes on tall ladders and scaffolds. Using heavy paint cans and buckets, the work is physically demanding—bending, lifting, kneeling and standing for long periods. If you like working with your hands and have an eye for detail, painting may be the trade for you!


Pre-apprentice painting programs teach skills and techniques employers are looking for in entry-level painters. Skills include:

  • Preparing and finishing surfaces like wood and drywall
  • Working with different types of paints like water- and oil-based paint
  • Working with stains and coatings like varnish and lacquers
  • Applying specialty finishes like texturing and wall coverings
  • Using airless and conventional spray systems
  • Using green building techniques to reduce resources and improve indoor air quality

Career Opportunities

Job growth is expected at an average rate through 2018. The relatively short life of exterior paints on homes and changing color trends will continue to support demand for painters. Facility management companies, general contractors and remodelers are examples of businesses that might hire an entry-level painter. The skills an HBI student learns can transfer to other specialties like drywall and ceiling installer, taper and maintenance and repair worker.

HBI graduates earn about $10 to $12 an hour in their first painting jobs. As skills are expanded through our full apprenticeships or on the job training, so are career options. Pay increases significantly also after becoming fully certified.


  • General Contractor
  • Subcontractor
  • Supervisor
  • Journeyperson
  • Apprentice
  • Painter’s Helper