How to become a painter and decorator
Do you have a knack with a paintbrush and an eye for detail? Do you think you could use these skills to make customers happy? If so, painting and decorating might be just the right career path for you.
Most people usually think of painters and decorators working in private homes, but you may also find yourself working in offices, state buildings such as hospitals and schools, and on industrial projects like bridges. If you wish to learn more about the flexible job description of a painter and decorator, or want to know how to become one yourself, read on.
What do I need?
Whether you’re working inside or outside, in a domestic or public setting, there are a number of basic painting and decorating skills you’ll need to succeed in the role. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of them yet- practice makes perfect and you’ll be able to do a lot of learning on the job.
Firstly, painting and decorating can be strenuous work, and so physical fitness and enjoyment of working with your hands are a must. For example, you might be stripping surfaces, preparing them with undercoat and primer, and then resurfacing them with new layers of paint or wallpaper. Depending on your location this may also be done high above ground. No small feat if you tire easily!
Painting and decorating can be strenuous work and requires a strong attention to detail
Secondly, you’ll need to be detail-oriented. Before painting you may need to mix paints to the right shade, either by eye or using specific equipment, and to fill small cracks and holes to make sure they’re level. After a job, you’ll need to tidy to ensure your finished site is spotless. Painting and decorating can be a great way to express your creativity, but an eye for accuracy is just as crucial.
Next you’ll need some basic number skills, as you’ll use them ahead of a job to estimate the amount of materials you’ll need. Whilst working, you’ll need maths to measure surface areas, paint and wallpaper quantities. Of course, you’ll also need to calculate the right amount to charge your clients!
You’ll need to be able to work in a team and closely follow instructions. Painters and decorators rarely work alone. You must be able to communicate and coordinate with your team, and to be able to follow to the letter the instructions of your supervisor and clients.
Painters and decorators rarely work alone. You must be able to communicate and coordinate with your team
Finally, you’ll need customer service skills. This is especially important if you want to be a domestic painter and decorator, as you’ll be trusted with looking after your clients’ homes. You should be able to give your them advice but also to listen and at times takes constructive criticism. You want to make your clients feel they are in safe hands!
Where do I start?
The good news if you’re looking to get your foot in the door is that, as with many trades, you are not required to have any formal painting and decorating qualifications. However, this means that a solid track record of work experience is especially important to employers.
If you are a school leaver, you can go directly into employment as a painter and decorator’s ‘mate’ or labourer. In this case, your employer may be able to arrange future training for you as you progress.
If you wish to take your knowledge further, you might consider gaining a skills-based qualification. Colleges offer a variety of painting and decorating courses at levels 1, 2, and 3, depending on your existing level of training. Also, bear in mind that if you wish to work on construction sites, you’ll need the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.
If you plan to work on construction sites, you'll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card
A painting and decorating apprenticeship is another great option if you wish to earn a wage while training for a qualification on the job. However, it’s important to note that you will need some GCSEs (usually in English and maths), and that an intermediate apprenticeship will usually take two to three years to complete.
A career as a painter and decorator requires physical fitness, attention to detail, and people skills. However, there are few formal entry barriers to the role, and if you’re hard-working and willing to learn you should do well. Once you have an established reputation in the trade, you could even progress to becoming self-employed by setting up your own business.
If you’re already an experienced painter and decorator, why not consider joining Local Heroes? To become a Local Heroes painter and decorator we require that you have an NVQ or recognised academy (i.e Dulux, Crown) qualification or equivalent; or, without a qualification, a minimum of 5 years' experience.