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A painter and decorator works on a wide range of painting and decorating jobs, ranging from simple house renovations or new-builds all the way to complex jobs such as painting bridges, or maintaining historic buildings.

Average salaries are in the region of £12,000.00 to £30,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

A painter and decorator makes walls and ceilings shipshape and attractive using paint, wallpaper and other finishes.

What they do

It's one of the most in-demand construction jobs and you'll need to master a range of techniques for making places look good, often training in new skills throughout your career. Specialist techniques include applying decorative paint finishes such as stencils, colour glaze, graining, marbling and lettering.

Typical duties include:

  • Working out what materials are needed for a particular project by taking measurements, or looking at job specifications or drawings
  • Erecting scaffolding, cradles and ladders
  • Putting out dustsheets to protect areas from dripping paint
  • Removing old paint or paper by sanding or scraping, or by using blowtorches, liquid paint removers or steam strippers
  • Preparing surfaces by fixing woodwork, filling or sealing holes, cracks and joins and washing them down to remove dust and grease.
  • Applying paint, stains, varnishes and other finishes using brushes, rollers or spraying equipment.
  • Wallpapering 

Career development:

It's possible to start out with trainee construction jobs in painting and decorating to gradually experience each of the tasks detailed above, initially supervised but gradually taking on more and more responsibility.

With enough experience and years on the job, you could become a master painter and decorator. Master painter and decorators continue to do all the tasks of a qualified painter and decorator, but might choose to specialise in particular techniques or types of project, depending on background.

You would become more closely involved in the ordering of materials for projects, which might involve visiting premises before the work is started. You would also be expected to assist in the preparation of quotations to secure additional work.

Hours & Salary

Painters and decorators work inside and outdoors and often have to travel from job to job, sometimes working weekends.

  • Newly trained painter and decorators can earn in the region of £12,000 - £15,000
  • Trained with experience painter and decorators can earn in the region of £18,000 - £25,000
  • Senior/Master Craft painter and decorators can earn in the region of £25,000 - £29,000
  • Self-employed painter and decorators set their own pay rates.

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


Learn more about construction careers – and some of the misconceptions surrounding them – with our Myth Buster

You can also take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Michael - Painter and Decorator|1:10
Gemma - Painter and Decorator|1:00

Leanne Tootil is a painter and decorator with Brook Decorations.

What do you do?

I work for a painting and decorating company and our jobs include hotel refurbishments. I paint and decorate all types of surfaces including walls, floors, skirting board, ceilings, windows and doors. My job also involves filling in skirting boards, scraping off paper or paint and getting a surface ready to paint or decorate. I’m also involved in priming ceilings and walls. Priming is a type of paint or liquid you put on before you start painting or decorating to prepare the surface.

How did you get started?

I’m a single mum with two children. I decorated my own house when my youngest child started school and enjoyed it, so I decided to enrol at Lewisham College to do a Level 1 painting and decorating course.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I really enjoy doing the preparation work you need to do before you start painting and decorating. After I’ve completed a job I like admiring my work. It makes me feel really satisfied.

What skills do you need?

You need to be patient and work hard. You need to be flexible and adapt to new projects you’re working on.

Proudest career moments?

I’m really proud of being able to study and achieve my NVQ Level 1 and 2 in painting and decorating. I also have my Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Card and my PASMA Card (mobile access towers). I’m also really happy to have secured employment as a painter and decorator.

Big ambition?

Maybe going into management or running my own business.

Any advice about joining the construction industry?

Go for it! More women are needed!

Find out which of the many careers in construction is right for you by taking our Personality Quiz

Qualifications & Training

After school you could choose to go into employment, either with a business directly or as an apprentice for a painting and decorating business.

To search for construction apprenticeship vacancies in your area, visit the government's vacancy matching site, or in Wales, Careers Wales. In Scotland, contact New Window Skills Development Scotland.

You will usually train on the job, with day or block release at a local college or training centre. A Level 2 apprenticeship will take up to two years to complete, and you can then progress on to a Level 3 with an additional year of college and training.

Once you are qualified as a painter and decorator you can do more training in techniques specific to the business you’re working for. For example, you can work towards an NVQ Level 3 in decorative finishing and industrial painting. 

Training in Scotland

A Modern Apprenticeship training programme normally takes four years to complete. Mature trainees with previous life or work experience may be able to complete the apprenticeship in three years.

Training combines on-the-job experience and off-the-job training on a block release basis, working towards a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Decorative Finishing Occupations (Construction): Painter and Decorator at Level 3 (SCQF level 6).

Visit New Window Skills Development Scotland or New Window My World of Work for further details.

If you want to become a master painter and decorator, in Scotland you can do the Higher National Certificate in Painting & Decorating Supervision at SCQF Level 7. This construction qualification is about the practice and theory of supervising painting and decorating work. You will also be given the opportunity to develop advanced practical craft skills. This course provides progression for apprentices in painting and decorating, normally after the Advanced Craft Certificate.

The HNC will provide opportunities for the development of the candidates’ core skills including communication, numeracy, problem solving, working with others and Information and Communication Technology.

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 


Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted

Career trends and forecasts

111,080 total people needed

According to the latest Construction Skills Network research, the UK construction industry will need a total of 111,080 painter and decorators every between 2017 - 2021.  The highest demand  for these construction jobs will be in the North West followed by Wales, East England, Scotland, South West and Northern Ireland.

Search other careers

Find out more about other roles in the construction industry and what they involve.

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