Powder coater (spray painter)

What they do

Powder coaters apply paint and other industrial coatings to vehicles and a range of other manufactured items. They inspect the vehicle or surface they will be painting, clean and prepare it, remove rough spots and sand or treat the surface, apply an undercoat to the surface, and mix and prepare the paint for application. They may use computerised paint mixing technology to do this. They spray-paint or powder coat the vehicle or article, check the quality and depth of their paintwork and polish the finished product.

Working conditions

Powder coaters either work in automotive body repair shops and panel beaters, or in industrial workshops, factories and paint shops. Conditions may be noisy, and they may be on their feet for extended periods. Some Powder coaters may travel to perform their work on-site. They work regular hours but may be required to work overtime depending on their workload. They are exposed to paint in particle form, which can be highly toxic, and requires that they wear protective gear such as masks.

Tools and technologies

Powder coaters use a range of different paints and spray guns, including powder-coat and electrostatic spray guns and metal arc spraying equipment. They also use sanding and grit-blasting machines, cleaning and rinsing materials, pre-treatment tanks and a range of chemicals. They are usually required to wear protective clothing including masks. Some spray painters may be required to drive fork-lifts, cranes and trucks to travel to jobs or reach areas to be painted.

How do I become one?

Education and training

It is possible to work as a powder coater without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.

You can also undertake a traineeship in surface preparation and coatings application. The traineeship usually takes 36 months to complete.

 To work as a powder coater within the motor vehicle industry you usually need to undertake a vehicle painting apprenticeship. The apprenticeship usually takes 42 to 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship. 

 Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

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 powder coater in the motor vehicle industry in Western Australia, you will need to obtain a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety or work under the supervision of someone who holds a current certificate. An Australian Police Certificate is required to gain a Motor Vehicle Repairer's Certificate.

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