What Painting and Coating Workers Do
Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, often with the use of machines.
Most painting and coating workers are employed full time. They frequently stand for long periods in specially ventilated areas.
How to Become a Painting and Coating Worker
Most painting and coating workers learn on the job after earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Training for new workers usually lasts several months.
The median annual wage for coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders was $38,150 in May 2019.
The median annual wage for painting, coating, and decorating workers was $32,950 in May 2019.
Employment of painting and coating workers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty and industry.
Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics, often with the use of machines.
Painting and coating workers typically do the following:
- Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products
- Select the paint or coating needed for the job
- Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated
- Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating
- Apply paint or coating
- Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas
Painting and coating workers paint items ranging from cars to furniture. They apply paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other types of liquid applications to make a product more attractive and protect it from the elements. The paint finish on an automobile, for example, makes the vehicle more attractive and provides protection from corrosion.
Before workers begin to apply the paint or other coating, they often prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it carefully to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. Workers also may mask or cover portions of the product with tape and paper before painting the product.
After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. A common technique is dipping an item in a large vat of paint or some other coating. Spraying products with paint or another coating is also common. Many factories use automated painting systems.
The following are examples of types of painting and coating workers:
Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine. During the process, these workers program the machine, tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to touch up flaws.
Painting, coating, and decorating workers apply coatings to furniture, glass, pottery, toys, books, and other products. Paper is often coated to give it a gloss. Silver, tin, and copper solutions are frequently sprayed onto glass to make mirrors.
Transportation equipment painters are the best known group of painting and coating workers. They paint various types of transportation equipment, including cars, aircraft, and boats.
Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders held about 151,400 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders were as follows:
|Fabricated metal product manufacturing||20%|
|Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair||16|
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||16|
|Furniture and related product manufacturing||4|
Painting, coating, and decorating workers held about 12,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of painting, coating, and decorating workers were as follows:
|Furniture and related product manufacturing||9|
|Nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing||8|
|Transportation equipment manufacturing||6|
Painting and coating is usually done in specially ventilated areas. Nonetheless, workers must wear masks or respirators that cover their nose and mouth.
Painting and coating workers often stand for long periods. They also may have to bend, stoop, or crouch in uncomfortable positions to reach different parts of the products they work on.
Injuries and Illnesses
Painting, coating, and decorating workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Hazards include muscle strains and exposure to toxic materials. More sophisticated paint booths and fresh-air ventilation systems are increasingly being installed in factories to provide a safer work environment.
Most painting and coating workers are employed full time.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of painting and coating workers.
For more information about job opportunities for painting and coating workers, visit
- Local manufacturers
- Automotive body repair shops
- Motor vehicle dealers
- Vocational schools
- Local unions representing painting and coating workers
- Local offices of state employment services
For a directory of certified automotive painting programs, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Painting and Coating Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/painting-and-coating-workers.htm (visited ).