So you want to become a painter or decorator!

So you know that you want to be a Painter or a Decorator? Congratulations on your choice! Keep on reading to find out about the ins and the outs of being a Painter or decorator.

These are some activities that you will do most days. You may work indoors or outdoors, on both commercial and residential sites. You will probably strip paint or wallpaper, prep and prime surfaces, fill in cracks, apply undercoats, paint surfaces or hang wallpaper or apply decorations and finishes. You might work in restorations, where you might need to maintain or repair surfaces.

As your career progresses, you can choose to focus on domestic, commercial or even industrial sites. Restoration is another great area to specialize in. It can be very well paid and take you to lots of interesting sites.  

Painting and Decorating can be riskier than you would think. You will often need to reach elevated surfaces, sometimes many stories high.

It is very important that you use your ladders correctly, and that you use scaffolds constructed by reputable manufacturers.  Being a Painter or decorator is obviously a very physical job.

You lift and move heavy objects and tins of paint all day, reaching and stretching into far corners. It is very important that you take care of your body, get enough sleep, exercise and eat well. You also need to be aware of WHS precautions in the workplace.


Your apprenticeship will teach you everything that you need to know to become a Painter or Decorator. These skills include:

  • Measuring surfaces accurately to determine the correct quantity of materials needed for a job.
  • Prepping surfaces correctly. You will need to strip off old paint and wallpaper, sand the surface back, fill in cracks and then prime the surface appropriately.
  • Choosing the right colors for the job and mixing the colors up accurately.
  • Being able to paint surfaces by brush, roller, staining and even using spray paints.
  • Applying wallpaper smoothly so that there are no bubbles or creases. Every wallpaper strip should be aligned perfectly to provide a seamless look.
  • Working with decorative features. This will be especially important if you choose to specialize as a Decorator.
  • Keeping your equipment in great condition and making sure that you always keep your workplace neat and tidy.

What Personal Characteristics should Painters and Decorators have?

  • Physical fitness
  • Comfortable with heights
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Perfect color vision
  • A good sense of balance


You will need to complete an apprenticeship. You can do an in-school apprenticeship, provided that you have finished year 10.

You can also wait until you have finished school to do your apprenticeship. A Building Contractors Licence is also a great qualification to have. It enables you to work on jobs worth more than $100.

Equipment and Insurance

Painters and decorators require specialist equipment to complete the requirements of each job properly and safely.

If you are working for yourself, before starting any work you should look into insurance and compare online, such as public liability.

Employment Opportunities

Painters and Decorators are always in demand. There are always new construction, renovation, restoration and maintenance projects available to work on.

To maximize your earnings you can choose to work on weekends or after-hours. Especially if you are self-employed, you can work shorter hours, or begin work earlier, allowing you to accommodate for family demands.

 If you want a career change you can move into sales or management.