What Does an Apprentice Painter Do? (With Average Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An apprentice painter is a tradesperson training to become a qualified painter. Painters, also known as decorators, paint structures with several aesthetic and functional materials. Understanding the responsibilities of a painting apprentice can help you decide if this trade is right for you. In this article, we discuss the answer to the question 'What does an apprentice painter do?', provide a guide on how to gain an apprenticeship and detail the national average salary of an apprentice painter.

What does an apprentice painter do?

Knowing the typical responsibilities in painting can help you understand the question 'What does an apprentice painter do?' An apprentice painter is someone training to become a qualified painter. As an apprentice, they work closely with a qualified painter or team of painters. The apprentice may follow instructions and observe their mentor to gain new skills and knowledge. An apprentice painter may use a wide range of materials that serve an aesthetic or functional purpose. Below are typical tasks of an apprentice painter:

Identifies required materials

Depending on the client, you may review a selection of paints of varying textures and colours. As an apprentice painter, you may learn how to identify which paints are appropriate for the client's needs. Some colours can have functional effects on homes. For example, light-coloured paints may insulate a house from heat better than dark paint. So, if the client requests a dark exterior paint, you may identify a dark painting product that offers improved insulation against the sun.

Prepares surfaces

As an apprentice painter, you may learn methods to prepare surfaces before applying paint. The preparation required before painting can depend on the type of surface. For example, if you're preparing timber surfaces, you may sand the timber to remove existing paint and create a smooth and even surface. Preparing surfaces helps the paint bond to the surface, which can prevent cracking and peeling.

Liaises with clients

One of the typical responsibilities of a painter is communicating with clients to understand their needs. As a junior apprentice, your mentor may do the majority of communicating, particularly with new clients. As you gain experience in the apprenticeship, you may begin liaising with clients regularly. When communicating with clients, you may discuss aspects of the job, such as the type of paint they want and the surfaces that require painting.

Follows mentor instructions

As an apprentice painter, your mentor may provide you with instructions on how to complete specific tasks. By following their instructions, you can efficiently gain new skills and knowledge of painting processes. As your apprenticeship progresses, you may gain a fundamental understanding of work processes, which can allow you to complete activities without instruction from an employer.

Applies aesthetic material

One of your primary duties as a painter is to apply aesthetic paint to surfaces. A common use of aesthetic paint is for interior and exterior surfaces of buildings. The purpose of aesthetic paint is to create a visually appealing surface. The client may request a specific type of paint or they may provide a brief on the style they want. Depending on their brief, you may choose the aesthetic paint. As an apprentice painter, you may also gain skills in advanced painting finishes. These finishes can include lime washes, marbling and broken colour effects.

Related: Interior Designer vs Interior Decorator: Key Differences

Does functional material

During your apprenticeship, you may gain knowledge in the application of functional materials. There's a variety of paint that serve different purposes. For example, lead paint is durable and often applied to surfaces that experience traffic, such as door frames, window frames and skirting boards. You may also learn how to apply paint that utilises nanotechnology. This type of paint is heat-reflective and typically applied to exposed load-bearing surfaces.

Related: How to Become a Blaster Painter (With Frequent Questions)

Interprets blueprints

There may be various surfaces that require painting for large construction projects. The most common way of identifying these surfaces is to examine a building blueprint. Blueprints are essentially a visual representation of the dimensions, locations and materials involved in the construction. As an apprentice, you may gain the skills to interpret blueprints and gather the information you require for the job.

Quotes jobs

Towards the end of your apprenticeship, you may quote jobs. Quoting a job involves travelling to the job site, liaising with the client and taking measurements. By liaising with the client, you can identify and the surfaces to gain a rough estimate of the area that requires painting. You may gather all this information to determine a reasonable price and provide this quote to the client.

Maintains equipment

Some painting jobs can require unique equipment or machinery, such as a scissor lift or industrial paint gun. As an apprentice painter, you may learn how to operate and maintain this equipment. One of the key aspects of equipment maintenance is to remove paint from tools and equipment. You typically use solvents such as paint thinner to remove any build-up of paint. This can be important when utilising paint guns because the tube that delivers the paint may dry and clog.

How to gain an apprenticeship

Below, you can find a step-by-step guide on how to gain an apprenticeship as a painter:

1. Get a pre-apprenticeship

A pre-apprenticeship isn't usually necessary for gaining an apprenticeship, though it can provide you with some benefits. By completing a pre-apprenticeship, you can display to potential employers your dedication and commitment to the trade. It can also provide you with an opportunity to experience the role of a painter. This can help you decide if this trade is right for you. A pre-apprenticeship usually takes six months to complete. Pre-apprenticeships are primarily practical and conducted in a workshop or training facility.

2. Consider a traineeship

A traineeship can be a suitable method of learning fundamental painting skills while earning a salary. Traineeships usually take one year to complete and include practical work experience. You don't receive a qualification after a traineeship in painting, though it can prove to employers that you have the skills and dedication to complete an apprenticeship. As a trainee, your employer may provide you with an opportunity to extend your role in the business as an apprentice. This can depend on the structure of the business and your performance as a trainee.

Related: Traineeship Wages: Definition, Typical Amounts and FAQs

3. Gain relevant certifications

To become a qualified painter, you may require several certifications that prove your competency in a variety of tasks. Depending on your employer as an apprentice, they may provide you with the opportunity to complete these certifications. It can be a good idea to gain these before your employment, as this can enhance your job application. Several certifications you may consider include working at heights ticket, forklift ticket, construction white card, scissor lift ticket and first-aid certificate.

4. Use an apprenticeship network

Apprenticeship networks are organisations that help you gain employment as an apprentice. You usually attend an interview with the network organisation and provide several details, such as your qualifications and employment preferences. From this information, the apprenticeship network attempts to find an apprenticeship provider that suits your preferences and skill level. They can also design a training contract that outlines the employer's obligations to provide you with adequate training.

5. Apply for apprenticeship roles

Once you gain the necessary certifications and tickets, you may apply for a painting apprenticeship. You can expect to gain employment with construction companies or painting businesses. You can apply for a painting apprenticeship using the Indeed Job Board. It can be important to understand that some employers may search for apprentices at different levels. For example, a third-year apprentice or second-year apprentice. When you begin your apprenticeship, you are a first-year apprentice.

Related: How to Get Into an Apprenticeship (With Steps and Benefits)

The average salary of a painter

The national average salary of an apprentice painter is $40,368 per year. Your salary as an apprentice usually increases as you progress through your apprenticeship. Apprenticeships typically have three levels of competency known as year one, year two and year three. Year three is the last level of your apprenticeship where you can expect to earn the most as an apprentice painter. Once you become a qualified painter, your salary may increase substantially. The national average salary of a painter is $70,540 per year. Depending on where you operate as a qualified painter, you may experience varying salaries.

Below, you can find the average salary of a qualified painter in different cities and towns:

  • Maribyrnong, VIC: $104,830 per year

  • Brisbane, QLD: $99,556 per year

  • Melbourne, VIC: $95,766 per year

  • Welshpool, WA: $88,237 per year

  • Cairns, QLD: $70,754 per year

  • Sydney, NSW: $69,462 per year

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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