So you know that you want to be a Painter or a Decorator? Congratulations on your choice! Keep on reading to find out about the ins and outs of being a Painter or decorator.

These are some activities that you will do most days. You may work indoors or outdoors, on both commercial and residential sites. You will probably strip paint or wallpaper, prep and prime surfaces, fill in cracks, apply undercoats, paint surfaces or hang wallpaper or apply decorations, and finished. You might work in restorations, where you might need to maintain or repair surfaces.

As your career progresses, you can choose to focus on domestic, commercial, or even industrial sites. Restoration is another great area to specialize in. It can be very well paid and take you to lots of interesting sites.

Painting and Decorating can be riskier than you would think. You will often need to reach elevated surfaces, sometimes many stories high. It is very important that you use your ladders correctly, and that you use scaffolds constructed by reputable scaffolders. Being a Painter or decorator is obviously a very physical job. You lift and move heavy objects and tins of paint all day, reaching and stretching into far corners. It is very important that you take care of your body, get enough sleep, exercise, and do well. You also need to be aware of WHS precautions in the workplace.


Your apprenticeship will teach you everything that you need to know to become a Painter or Decorator. These skills include:

  • Measuring surfaces accurately to determine the correct quantity of materials needed for a job.
  • Prepping surfaces correctly. You will need to strip off old paint and wallpaper, sand the surface back, fill in cracks, and then prime the surface appropriately.
  • Choosing the right color for the job and mixing the color up accurately
  • Being able to paint surfaces with a brush, roller, staining, and even spray paints.
  • Apply wallpaper smoothly so that there are no bubbles or creases. Every wallpaper strip should be aligned perfectly to provide a seamless look.
  • Working with decorative features. This will be especially important if you choose to specialize as a Decorator.
  • Keep your equipment in great condition and make sure that you always keep your workplace neat and tidy.

What personal characteristics should Painters and decorators have?

  • Physical fitness
  • Comfortable with heights
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Perfect color vision
  • A good sense of balance


You will need to complete an apprenticeship. You can do an in-school apprentice provided that you have finished year 10. You can also wait until you have finished school to do your apprenticeship. A Building Contractors license is also an excellent qualification to have. It enables you to work on jobs worth more than $100

Equipment and Insurance

Painters and decorators require specialist equipment to complete the requirements of each job properly and safely. If you are working for yourself, before starting any work you should look into insurance and public liability.

Employment opportunities

Painters and Decorators are always in demand. There are always new construction, renovation, restoration, and maintenance projects available to work on. To maximize your earnings you can choose to work on weekends or after-hours. Especially if you are self-employed, you can work shorter hours, or begin work earlier, allowing you to accommodate family demands. If you want a career change you can move into sales or management.

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