Painting trades worker

What they do

Painting trades workers apply paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and decorate interior and exterior surfaces of buildings. Painting trades workers erect scaffolding and ladders and place drop sheets to protect nearby areas from paint splattering. They prepare surfaces by removing old paint and wallpaper, as well as fixing woodwork and filling holes and cracks. They apply paints, varnishes and stains to surfaces using brushes, rollers and sprays.

Working conditions

Painting trades workers work all over WA, wherever there is the construction or renovation of domestic, commercial or industrial buildings. They work either indoors or outdoors, depending on the job. Outdoor painting is only done in fine weather conditions, so painting trades workers must be prepared to work in the sun. Indoors, paint or varnish fumes can sometimes be particularly strong, so they must ensure proper ventilation through opening windows and doors, which can, in winter, make their work conditions very cold.

Tools and technologies

Painting trades workers use a variety of different tools to remove and apply paint, wallpaper and other finishes. They use steam wallpaper strippers, scrapers, sanders and liquid paint removers to remove previous finishes. To apply paints and varnishes, they put down drop sheets and apply adhesive tape to areas that are not being painted. They apply the paint with brushes, sponges, spray guns, rollers and even stencils. When applying wallpaper, they use a special wallpaper paste. All painting trades workers wear protective clothing and hats, especially in the sun, and some may wear masks when dealing with paint fumes.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a painting trades worker, you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in painter and decorator. The apprenticeship usually takes 36 to 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a painting trades worker, you may need to obtain a Construction Induction Card (also known as a “white card”) from a registered training organisation authorised by the WorkSafe Division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

In Western Australia, to work as a painting trades worker contractor, or if you are carrying out work valued at more than $1,000, you will need to obtain a painting practitioner registration from the Building Commission of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety