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Painter and decorator

Painters and decorators bring everyday spaces to life. They prepare and apply paint, wallpaper and other finishes to surfaces, inside and out. As a painter and decorator, you’d be in high demand. You could play a key role in transforming residential, commercial and industrial projects, or specialise in renovations or maintaining heritage buildings.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


Number employed in the UK


How to become a painter and decorator

There are several routes to becoming a painter and decorator. You could do a college course, an apprenticeship, or on the job training.

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and able to follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

College/training provider

Your local college or training provider may offer courses, such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Painting and Decorating.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.

Some colleges offer part-time, short courses in painting and decorating which might be a good way to find out if it is the right job for you, especially if you have no experience or are thinking of changing career.


If you are aged between 16 and 24 you may be eligible for a traineeship. This is a short course (2 weeks - 6 months) which helps you to gain work experience in your chosen role.


An apprenticeship with a painting and decorating company is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

An intermediate apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. If your employer can provide you with the right experiences you could progress onto higher level qualifications or specialise in heritage and historical renovation.

You might need GCSEs (including English and maths) or equivalent, to do an apprenticeship, but not all employers ask for formal qualifications.


You may be able to find work assisting a qualified painter/decorator and gain qualifications part-time.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a painter and decorator include:

  • Be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • Flexible and open to change
  • Able to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • Customer service skills
  • Knowledge of public safety and security
  • Business management skills
  • Able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device


To become a Painter and Decorator you'll need: 

  • Level 2 NVQ Decorative Finishing and Industrial Painting Occupations (Construction). 
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship Painter and Decorator.
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship Crafter Painter and Decorator. 

To become a Painter and Decorator you'll need: 

  • SVQ at SCQF Level 6 in Painting and Decorating. 
  • NPA at SCQF Level 5 in Painting and Decorating. 
  • Painting and Decorating SCQF Level 6 Apprenticeship in Construction Building. 

To become a Painter and Decorator you'll need: 

  • NVQ Level 2 in Painting and Decorating.
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating. 

What does a painter and decorator do?

As a painter and decorator you will be responsible for a variety of different tasks - such as applying paints and stains to new rooms, furniture, or equipment, or you could be assisting with other projects.

The job role of a painter and decorator varies, and can involve the following duties:

  • Applying paint, stains, varnishes and other finishes
  • Using brushes, rollers or spraying equipment
  • Applying primers and undercoats, or varnishes and glazes
  • Wallpapering
  • Calculating the materials needed for a project
  • Removing old paint or wallpaper by sanding or scraping, or by using heat guns, liquid paint removers or steam strippers
  • Mixing paint to an agreed shade
  • Laying dust sheets to protect areas from paint
  • Preparing surfaces for decorating by filling holes and sealing cracks
  • Tidying up and cleaning your tools
  • Working in clients’ businesses or homes.

How much could you earn as a painter and decorator?

The expected salary for a painter and decorator varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained painter and decorators can earn £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained painter and decorators with more experience can earn £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior/master painter and decorators can earn £30,000 - £50,000
  • Self-employed painter and decorators set their own pay rates.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest painter and decorator vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

Once you’ve qualified, you could do an NVQ Level 3 in Decorative Finishing and Industrial Painting to improve your job prospects.

With time you could become a team manager or supervisor and earn a higher salary. You could move into a related area of construction such as interior design, historical conservation, or set design. Alternatively, you could train in estimating or contract management.

Some painter and decorators set up their own business. You could work as a subcontractor on larger projects and set your own day rates.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

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