Painter and decorator

Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would decorate and protect surfaces such as plaster, metal and wood to create pleasant spaces for people to live and work in.

You could work on everything from redecorating living rooms to painting large structures like bridges.

When working in a home, you would use paint, varnishes and wallpaper to decorate rooms. You would follow instructions about colours, textures and wallpaper patterns.

You would:

  • Measure areas to work out how much paint or wall covering you need
  • Strip off old wallpaper or paint
  • Fill holes and cracks and make sure surfaces are level
  • Prepare surfaces with primer and undercoat
  • Mix paint to the right shade, either by hand or using computerised colour-matching equipment
  • Apply layers of paint and hang wallpaper
  • Tidy up after finishing a job

On some jobs you might apply specialist finishes such as rag rolling, graining and marbling. You would often work from ladders or raised platforms to reach ceilings.

For industrial projects, such as bridges or ships, you would remove old paintwork with abrasive blasting methods before applying new coatings using industrial paint spraying equipment. You would use a cradle or safety harness when working.

Paints and solvents give off fumes, so you may have to wear a protective mask or use fume extraction equipment on some jobs.

You’d need a good awareness of health and safety issues for this role.

Working conditions

Hours

You would work around 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Extra hours may be necessary to meet deadlines.

Environment

You would mostly be working indoors decorating the insides of homes and business. Sometimes you might also need to work on the outsides of structures, however.

Travel

You would be expected to travel from site to site and some jobs may require overnight stays away from home. You would usually transport your equipment in a van.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Working on your own
  • Accuracy
  • Working with your hands
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You would need a Modern Apprenticeship leading to relevant qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification Decorative Finishing Occupations (Construction): Painter and Decorator (SVQ level 3).

You must register with the Scottish Painting and Decorating Apprenticeship Council (SPADAC) or the Scottish Building Apprenticeship Training Council (SBATC).

You do not always need formal qualifications for an apprenticeship but four Standard Grades or National 4s (SCQF level 4) or National 5s (SCQF level 5) are sometimes required. You usually have to pass an aptitude test before entry an apprenticeship.

Some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5. 

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • Practical technologies
  • English
  • Art and design subjects

You will also need

  • A Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent safety passport, and pass a health and safety test to train or work on construction sites
  • A driving licence, for some jobs

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding of the industry and practical skills such as Skills for Work Construction Crafts (SCFQ level 4/5).