Brush up on your skills

PAINTERS and decorators use a range of paints, varnishes and other coverings to enhance and protect surfaces such as plaster, metal and wood.

You would work on a variety of domestic and industrial projects ranging from redecorating homes, to applying heavy-duty finishes to large structures like bridges.

As a painter and decorator on a domestic job, you would use paint, varnishes and wallpaper to decorate rooms. You would follow the householder’s instructions about choice of colour, finishing texture and wallpaper patterns.

Main tasks would include:

l Measuring surface areas to work out how much paint or wall covering you need

l Stripping off old wallpaper or paint and filling holes and cracks and making sure surfaces are level

l Preparing surfaces with primer and undercoat

l Mixing paint to the right shade, by hand or by using computerised colour-matching equipment

l Applying layers of paint and hanging wallpaper

l Tidying up after finishing a job.

l You might apply specialist finishes such as rag-rolling, graining and marbling on some jobs.

For industrial contracts, such as bridges or ships, you would remove old paintwork with abrasive blasting methods before applying new coatings with industrial paint spraying equipment.

You would work around 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Extra hours may be necessary to meet deadlines. On house painting jobs, you would often work from ladders or raised platforms to reach ceilings.

Starting salaries can be between £13,500 and £16,500 a year.

Average salaries for qualified workers are £17,000 to £21,500 a year.

Decorators with supervisory duties or specialist skills can earn over £23,000 a year.

Overtime and shift allowances can increase income. Self-employed painters and decorators set their own pay rates.

Employers often prefer people with some relevant experience, so you could start off by looking for work as a painter and decorator’s labourer or ‘mate’. Once you are working, your employer may give you further training in painting and decorating Alternatively, you could take a college course, which would give you some of the skills needed for the job. Relevant courses include:

City & Guilds (6217) Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Painting and Decorating)

CSkills Level 1 Diploma in Painting and Decorating

CSkills Intermediate and Advanced Construction Award (Decorative Occupations – Painting and Decorating).

A common way into this career is through an apprenticeship scheme.

To get on to an apprenticeship, you may need GCSEs in subjects such as maths, English and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications, such as the BTEC Introductory Certificate and Diploma in Construction.This course includes options in painting and decorating.