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Painting trades worker

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Summary of occupation

Painters and decorators apply protective and decorative finishes such as paint and wallpaper to the interior and exterior of buildings. They prepare surfaces by removing old paint and wallpaper, ensuring they are clean, and covering areas that are not to be painted. They mix paint and cut wallpaper to size, and apply them carefully to ensure a flawless finish.

ANZSCO description: Applies paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and decorate surfaces of buildings and structures. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Painter and Decorator
Specialisations: Paperhanger
Job prospects: Good
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A painter and decorator needs:

  • to enjoy manual work
  • good hand eye coordination
  • good colour vision
  • to be accurate and careful in their work
  • physical fitness, with an ability to work at heights
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Working conditions

Painters and decorators work all over WA, wherever there is the construction or renovation of domestic, commercial or industrial buildings. They work either indoors or outdoors, depending on the job. Outdoor painting is only done in fine weather conditions, so painters and decorators must be prepared to work in the sun. Indoors, paint or varnish fumes can sometimes be particularly strong, so they must ensure proper ventilation through opening windows and doors, which can, in winter, make their work conditions very cold.

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Salary details

On average, painters and decorators can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 200 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Many painters are self-employed and/or work as part of a team as an individual sub-contractor. Earnings for sub-contractors or small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, the level of demand for their services, as well as the amount of work completed.

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Tools and technologies

Painters and decorators use a variety of different tools to remove and apply paint, wallpaper and other finishes. They use steam wallpaper strippers, scrapers, sanders and liquid paint removers to remove previous finishes. To apply paints and varnishes, they put down drop sheets and apply adhesive tape to areas that are not being painted. They apply the paint with brushes, sponges, spray guns, rollers and even stencils. When applying wallpaper, they use a special wallpaper paste. All painters and decorators wear protective clothing and hats, especially in the sun, and some may wear masks when dealing with paint fumes.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a painting trades worker you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The painter and decorator, or painting (housing) apprenticeships usually take 24 to 48 months to complete and are available as school-based apprenticeships.

You may improve your chances of gaining an apprenticeship by completing a pre-apprenticeship course. 

In Western Australia, painters contracting or carrying out work valued at more than $1,000 must be registered as a painting contractor. Contact the Building Commission Division, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety for more information.

Workers in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (commonly known as a “white card”). In Western Australia, training is conducted by registered training organisations authorised by the WorkSafe Division, Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety​.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Related links

Related videos

Painter & decorator Video Painter & decorator Occupation

Painters and decorators apply protective and decorative finishes such as paint and wallpaper to the interior and exterior of buildings.

Painter and Decorator  Video Painter and Decorator Occupation

Painters and decorators apply protective and decorative finishes such as paint and wallpaper to the interior and exterior of buildings.

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