Home > Manual & Skilled > Becoming a Painter and Decorator

Becoming a Painter and Decorator

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Painter And Decorator Career Skills

As painter and decorator you could be working on a variety of jobs, each differing in scale and requirement. For instance, on one day you might be painting and decorating a normal suburban house – the next you could well be contracted to work on a large commercial site or public building. The needs differ because the skill, equipment and type of job vary so much, meaning that no two jobs are exactly the same.

If you’re Considering A Career change to become a painter and decorator, you’ll have to first make sure that you have the skills and experience in place before you begin finding work.

What Work Will I Do?

As a painter and decorator, part of your job will be painting! If you’re thinking of becoming a painter and decorator, of course you’ll need the more ‘artistic’ skill of being able to paint precisely and efficiently. But the Other Skills needed to be a successful painter and decorator go far beyond how well you can wield a brush. A truly successful painter and decorator will be adept at many different skills.

Typical painting and decorating jobs include:

  • Stripping old wallpaper and hanging new paper
  • Preparing wood, plaster, metal or other surfaces for painting
  • Installing decorative features, such as mantlepieces, cornices and ceiling moulds
  • Applying specialised paint textures or techniques, such as Artex™ or marbling
  • Restoring old interior or exterior décor.
Part of your work will also be prepping a room before hanging wallpaper or painting. This includes sanding and smoothing down paintwork, walls and doors, filling in cracks, treating any problem areas and ensuring you have a clean surface to work with. Again, you’ll need have good working knowledge of the correct chemicals and treatments for each specific job and know which tools to use. If your job involves working on larger commercial or industrial developments, you’ll be required to use some heavy duty equipment. This in itself requires good knowledge of health and safety, strength and skill.

Multi-Tasking

You will be required to work with a whole host of decorating tools and materials, and know your products well. There is quite an astonishing array of paints, varnishes, and adhesives available, each suited for specific uses and purposes. Having an expert knowledge of painting and decorating products will help you achieve the look and feel that your client is after.

Often, it will be a case of following your householder’s instructions. If your client is not sure exactly what they want, however, you will also be need to help them in an advisory capacity. This might require some aptitude for creativity and interior design, as well as the more ‘practical’ skills involved. You will need good, solid interpersonal skills, and an ability to communicate in a clear and concise way. A friendly but professional approach will also prove handy.

You may also have to employ some maths skills when dealing with job quotes, measurements, and chemical dilution ratios. Another consideration is the fact that you might often be expected to work at considerable heights. This can be on scaffolding, a platform or with various ladders, so a head for heights is usually a prerequisite.

Entering Employment

If you want to work as a painter and decorator, there are several employment options open to you. First, there are different formal training routes you can take, which will result in a qualification. City & Guilds (6217) Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Painting and Decorating) is one such programme, as well as CSkills Level 1 Diploma in Painting and Decorating. A qualification such as City & Guilds will help you to gather enough experience to make you a more desirable candidate to employers.

Experience counts for a lot in the painting and decorating arena, so formal qualifications are not always needed, but certainly do help. Bear in mind, however, that an alternative is to train on-site as a labourer’s mate or as an apprentice with a self-employed painter. The pay may be basic, but the experience can count for a lot and will help you to move up the painting and decorating career ladder.

More Skilled Professions

Considering a career to show off your artistic skills? See what options are available to you in our Manual and Skilled and The Arts sections of this site.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Kaz - Your Question:
I’m 16 years old and was concideeing becoming a painter and decorator, would my age affect getting a job now?? Or would I have to wait till I’m at least 18 years of age.

Our Response:
You could work with someone else. Ask at your local college to see if any painting and decorating apprenticeships are available.
ACareerChange - 14-Feb-18 @ 2:24 PM
I’m 16 years old and was concideeing becoming a painter and decorator, would my age affect getting a job now?? Or would I have to wait till I’m at least 18 years of age.
Kaz - 13-Feb-18 @ 5:47 PM
walshy- Your Question:
Hi there am looking to become a painter n decorater lookin to become an apprenticeship done 12 months of painting n decorater with family member before to

Our Response:
Check local job websites, for any apprenticeship positions and look at courses available at colleges in your area.
ACareerChange - 5-Sep-17 @ 11:21 AM
hi there am looking to become a painter n decorater lookin to become an apprenticeship done 12 months of painting n decorater with family member before to
walshy - 2-Sep-17 @ 9:29 PM
Hello I am 28 and I want to learn a trade. I find painting a good trade to learn as you gain life skills as well. Any good advise to get started?
Dannyd - 16-Jan-17 @ 1:14 PM
Hi, I have over 10 years in painting and decorating experience but no qualification. I'm looking to start working as self employed and start up my own company doing so. Can I legally do this without a qualification? Any advice appreciated. Many thanks.
Hev - 13-Nov-16 @ 4:32 PM
Dave - Your Question:
I am 46 yrs old and I have decided to make a career change from the motor industry to becoming a self employed painter and decorator. Could any one advise me of the best route to take and which course is the best and quickest way to a qualification as I can't afford to quit my current work situation although want to make this a quick transition if I can!

Our Response:
The easiest way to get some qualifications while still working is to check out any colleges in your location. They may run evening classes or part time classes that you can fit in with your working time. Type "painting and decorating qualifications" together with the name of your town or county into a search engine and you'll find lots of good results.
ACareerChange - 7-Oct-16 @ 10:15 AM
I am 46 yrs old and I have decided to make a career change from the motor industry to becoming a self employed painter and decorator. Could any one advise me of the best route to take and which course is the best and quickest way to a qualification as I can't afford to quit my current work situation although want to make this a quick transition if I can!
Dave - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:49 AM
Cezz - Your Question:
Hi I'm 26yrs old & I do have a city and guilds painting and decorating certificate but did not pass the health safety and environment test which means at the time I could not apply for a site card. I would really like to do this as a profession but do not know how to go about this. I am already if full time employment but I have these qualifications and I would like to put them to use. I live in Cheltenham, if anyone could offer me some advice I would be very grateful.

Our Response:
Why not ask at your local college if you can re-sit the health and safety element of the course?
ACareerChange - 16-Sep-16 @ 11:24 AM
Hi I'm 26yrs old & I do have a city and guilds painting and decorating certificate but did not pass the health safety and environment test which means at the time I could not apply for a site card. I would really like to do this as a profession but do not know how to go about this. I am already if full time employment but I have these qualifications and I would like to put them to use. I live in Cheltenham, if anyone could offer me some advice I would be very grateful.
Cezz - 15-Sep-16 @ 6:31 AM
Robert - Your Question:
Am 23 yrs old and am very eager to be a painter and decorator? Any advise?

Our Response:
Yes, follow the advice in the article. If you feel you want to this, there is nothing to prevent you trying!
ACareerChange - 11-Feb-16 @ 2:23 PM
Am 23 yrs old and am very eager to be a painter and decorator? Any advise?
Robert - 10-Feb-16 @ 11:50 AM
Hi im am 26 i have 5 years experience in roofing and was a labourer for different trades before. i would like a career change but still in the building trade. to be honest i don't want to be working outside all the time. i have very little experience in painting and decorating but i am a fast learner and always eager to learn and progress new skills i recently left the building trade and have become a multi drop driver i have quickly learnt that my heart will always be in building i am looking for an immediate permanent position so i can buy my own house and have a child
Nate - 24-Jan-16 @ 2:27 PM
I from in Indonesia Cityzen,I experience seven years for Painter metalls,building maintenance,I like careers in Your Company,Thanks.
Alfian - 6-Nov-15 @ 9:59 AM
I am a 35 year old male who (like blakey) would like this career change but is concerned my speed may be a difficulty.Any advice on this?
Mr j Pawson - 2-Nov-15 @ 9:44 PM
i have a scqf level 5 in painting decorating but i am not time served,can i use that to get employment?
fraz - 12-Jul-15 @ 6:44 PM
@Bren. Do a search on painting and decoration classes. You'll find that many colleges offer weekend and evening courses to offer you novice, intermediate and advanced skills.
ACareerChange - 7-Apr-15 @ 11:26 AM
Hi, I'm a 48 year old man who is thinking of a career change I have always loved painting and decorating my own home and have also done some work for friends and family, I can't give up my current job to train full time but would like to get a qualification is there any other way I could do this.
Bren - 1-Apr-15 @ 12:20 PM
@vic. Try a search on the internet. here is an example of one course that is offered.
ACareerChange - 11-Mar-15 @ 10:45 AM
Hi I want to also make the move into the construction industry as a painter decorator, I am in Monmouth and was hoping to find college near my area instead of Cardiff or Newport any suggestions where and what level I will need in order to go straight in self employed?
vic - 7-Mar-15 @ 10:20 AM
I am a 52 year old male who lives in dudley, West Midlands. I have been a Financial adviser for 32 years, and have just sold my business. I decorate all my friends and families homes, who consider my work excellent. My problem is i don't consider myself fast enough. I really enjoy decorating, and would love the opportunity to make a carear from it. Could you please adivise me what qualifications i require to be competent, and how i can achieve them. What is a prospective employer looking for in order for me to secure employment. Regards Tony
Blakey - 31-Aug-12 @ 5:09 PM
Hi, I have a step son (21) who is trying to learn a skill where he can earn to provided for his girlfriend and future baby girl in July. He wants to become a painter & decorator. He wants to gain the recognised qualifications and experience so that I can start his own business. I know he will find it very difficult to get an adult apprentice so we looking for advice. any advise anyone? Cheers paul
Dan - 5-Jun-12 @ 7:56 PM
Iv did a four year apprentiship with a small firm anddidon job training but never went to collage but got a letter from after four years to say i was timed served does that mean im a time served painter and decorator or do i have to get any other qualifactions orwill that be ok?
liam - 15-Feb-12 @ 10:30 PM
Hi, I am 41 years old and looking for a career change. I want to become a painter & decorator. I have little experience, however very keen to learn. I want to gain the recognised qualifications and experience so that I can start my own business. I know I will find it very difficult to get an adult apprentice so I am prepared to pay for myself. any advise anyone?
Tam - 12-Dec-11 @ 7:54 PM
I have a good friend who is desperate to be a painter and decorater, she does lots of jobs for people in their house including mine in her spare time and for no payment but to get experience and she is a perfectionist so she does a a really good job. She works full time in a profession she took just to get a wage which she hates and I keep encouraging her but to no avail, noone seems interested in a hard working diligent young woman who would prove herself and work the extra hours if need be just to have her chosen profession.
kez - 25-Oct-11 @ 6:25 PM
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