A career as a painter

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Painters and decorators use a range of coverings to enhance and protect surfaces. These surfaces could include plaster, metal and wood. If you like practical work and enjoy being artistic, this could be a perfect career for you.

To be a painter and decorator, you should have good practical and creative skills. You will need to be able to work carefully and pay attention to detail. Sometimes you’ll need a good head for heights.

Employers often prefer people with some relevant experience. You could start by looking for work as a painter and decorator’s labourer or ‘mate’.

As a painter and decorator, you would work on a variety of domestic and industrial projects ranging from re-decorating homes to applying heavy-duty finishes to large structures like bridges.

On a domestic job, you would use paint, varnishes and wallpaper to decorate rooms. You would follow the householder’s instructions about choice of colour, finishing texture and wallpaper patterns. Your main tasks would include:

•measuring surface areas to work out how much paint or wall covering you need

•stripping off old wallpaper or paint.

On some jobs you might apply specialist finishes such as rag rolling, graining and marbling. You would often work from ladders or raised platforms to reach ceilings.

For industrial projects, such as bridges or ships, you would remove old paintwork with abrasive blasting methods before applying new coatings using industrial paint spraying equipment. You would use a cradle or safety harness when working.

Paints and solvents give off fumes, so you may have to wear a protective mask or use fume extraction equipment on some jobs, if in enclosed spaces.

You would work around 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Extra hours may be necessary to meet deadlines.

You would be expected to travel from site to site and some jobs may require overnight stays away from home.

Starting salaries can be between £13,500 and £16,500 a year. Average salaries for qualified painters and decorators are between £17,000 and £21,500 a year. Decorators with supervisor duties or specialist skills can earn over £23,000 a year. Overtime and shift allowances can increase income. Self-employed painters and decorators set their own pay rates.

Employers often prefer people with some relevant experience, so you could start by looking for work as a painter and decorator’s labourer or ‘mate’. Once you are working, your employer may give you the opportunity for further training in painting and decorating. See the Training and Development section below for more details.

Useful contacts: Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) - Tel: 01420 471619 www.irata.org; National Heritage Training Group www.nhtg.org.uk; Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

Tel: 0844 576 8777 www.cscs.uk.com; ConstructionSkills - Tel: 0344 994 4400 www.cskills.org.

For the latest vacancies go to www.jobstoday.co.uk