California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Painters, Construction and Maintenance in San Diego County

May also be called: Bridge Painters; Facilities Painters; Highway Painters; House Painters; Industrial Painters; Maintenance Painters; and Painters and Decorators

Specialties within this occupation include: Architectural Coatings Finishers; Pavement Stripers; Shipyard Painters

What Would I Do?

Construction and Maintenance Painters paint and varnish new and old buildings and other structures. They paint a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, concrete, masonry, and plastic. Painters must be skilled in handling painting tools and must expertly select the right tools and materials. When choosing paints and finishes, Painters have to consider job appropriateness, cost, and durability. Although most finishes come ready-mixed in almost any color, Painters must know about paint composition and color harmony to get the texture, tint, and shade the customer wants.

Some painting artisans specialize in creating unique finishes by using one of many decorative techniques. These techniques often involve “broken color,” a process created by applying one or more colors in broken layers over a different base coat to produce a mottled or textured effect. Other decorative painting techniques include sponging, rag-rolling, stippling, sheen striping, dragging, distressing, color blocking, marbling, and faux finishes.

Some Painters specialize in painting industrial structures, such as applying a protective coating to steel bridges to fight corrosion. They may also paint the interior and exterior of manufacturing facilities and equipment such as storage tanks, plant buildings, lockers, piping, structural steel, and ships.

Painters can specialize in several areas:

Architectural Coatings Finishers coat, finish, and paint interior and exterior surfaces and components in buildings and plants. They use specialized equipment to coat building exteriors to resist water, corrosion, and fire, and to improve the wear resistance of the paint.

Pavement Stripers place and remove long-line road striping and pavement markings, using hand and power tools and self-propelled equipment. They may drive small or large trucks.

Shipyard Painters prepare wood, fiberglass, and metal surfaces for painting. They paint parts, equipment, interiors, and exteriors of ships, boats, and shipyard and marina buildings, using brushes, spray guns, and rollers.

Tools and Technology

Painters use a variety of tools in their work, such as sprayers, brushes, mixers, sanders, pressure cleaners, putty knives, saws, and trowels. When working on tall buildings, Painters erect scaffolding, which can include swing stages (scaffolds suspended by ropes), or they may hang by cables attached to roof hooks. When painting church steeples and other tall, conical structures, they use a bosun’s chair, a swing-like device. They may also use computers with project management, spreadsheet, and word processing software.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Cover surfaces with dropcloths or masking tape and paper to protect surfaces during painting.Extent Flexibility
Fill cracks, holes, and joints with caulk, putty, plaster, or other fillers, using caulking guns or putty knives.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Apply primers or sealers to prepare new surfaces, such as bare wood or metal, for finish coats.Coordination
Apply paint, stain, varnish, enamel, and other finishes to equipment, buildings, bridges, and/or other structures, using brushes, spray guns, or rollers.Trunk Strength
Calculate amounts of required materials and estimate costs, based on surface measurements and/or work orders.Time Management
Read work orders or receive instructions from supervisors or homeowners in order to determine work requirements.Customer and Personal Service
Erect scaffolding and swing gates, or set up ladders, to work above ground level.Gross Body Equilibrium
Remove fixtures such as pictures, door knobs, lamps, and electric switch covers prior to painting.Manual Dexterity
Wash and treat surfaces with oil, turpentine, mildew remover, or other preparations, and sand rough spots to ensure that finishes will adhere properly.Problem Sensitivity
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Painters often stand for long periods of time, extending their arms over their heads, which can be tiring and painful. Because Painters work from ladders, scaffolds, and swing stages, they must do a lot of climbing, bending, and stretching. These conditions increase the risk of injury from slips or falls. Painters sometimes work in places with poor air circulation. They also risk contact with hazardous chemicals when mixing paints or when removing lead-based paints. Airless spray painting can give off toxic fumes or the strong spray can cut a worker’s skin. Therefore, they may need to wear protective safety glasses and masks. Exterior Painters may work in extreme temperatures.

When painting any structure, Painters must take various safety precautions to minimize the risk of accidents. Those who specialize in interior applications, such as painting the inside of storage tanks, must wear a protective suit. Those who paint bridges or building infrastructures may work at extreme heights and in uncomfortable positions. In addition, some painters work hanging from ropes or cables.

Hours of work are dependent on the contract. Most Painters work 40 hours per week, with some working variable schedules or part time. Painters are usually laid off during periods of wet weather. In some areas of California, they may be out of work for three months or longer each year because of poor weather.

Those who work for contractors may belong to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Painter may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions, being outdoors, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working with others.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Painters who belong to a union usually make a higher wage.


The median wage in 2016 for Painters, Construction and Maintenance in California is $43,146 annually, or $20.74 hourly. The median wage for Painters, Construction and Maintenance in San Diego County is $38,216 annually, or $18.38 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
San Diego County$33,409$38,216$49,570
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Many employers offer vacation and sick leave; retirement plans; and dental, vision, medical, and life insurance. Painters who are self-employed are responsible for purchasing their own insurance and retirement plans.

What Do Local Employers Say About Benefits?  Of the 28 employers in San Diego County, many provide medical insurance, and some provide no benefits, dental insurance, retirement plan, and vacation benefits to Painters, Construction and Maintenance who work full-time.

Percent of Employers Who Provide
Specific Benefits by Time Base
Benefit TypeFull-TimePart-Time
Medical Insurance50%0%
No benefits32%39%
Dental Insurance29%0%
Retirement Plan29%4%
Disability Insurance14%0%
Life Insurance14%0%
Paid Time Off Bank11%0%
Sick Leave7%0%
Vision Insurance7%0%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

Of the 14 employers surveyed who responded in San Diego County, who provides medical benefits, many reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for full-time, and none reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for part-time Painters, Construction and Maintenance.

Percent of Employers Who Paid Medical
Insurance by Portion Paid by Time Base
Portion Paid by Employer:Full-TimePart-Time
Half or more50%0%
Less than Half36%0%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

What is the Job Outlook?

Many of the job opportunities available for Painters will be due to the need to replace those workers who are expected to leave the occupation for various reasons. Painters should expect some periods of unemployment, especially until they gain experience. They should know that construction is subject to boom and bust cycles. In addition, jobs are often seasonal or may last only a short period of time.

Moreover, the fairly short life of exterior paints on residential homes as well as changing tastes in colors and styles will drive the demand for Painters. Real estate investors will need Painters prior to selling or renting properties. Additionally, opportunities in industrial painting will come from the need to prevent deterioration of industrial structures.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Painters, Construction and Maintenance is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Painters, Construction and Maintenance are expected to increase by 32.1 percent, or 17,100 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

In San Diego County, the number of Painters, Construction and Maintenance is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Painters, Construction and Maintenance are expected to increase by 46.3 percent, or 2,500 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Painters, Construction and Maintenance
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 1,720 new job openings per year is expected for Painters, Construction and Maintenance, plus an additional 850 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 2,560 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 249 new job openings per year is expected for Painters, Construction and Maintenance, plus an additional 82 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 331 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Painters, Construction and Maintenance
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A high school education is not needed to become a Painter. However, the ability to read and write in English and do simple arithmetic is a must.

Early Career Planning

High school courses in basic English and mathematics are helpful to meet minimum education requirements to enter the painting trade.

Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs

The formal way to journey-level status is through an apprenticeship program, which, depending on the union or other administering body, consists of three to four years of supervised, on-the-job training and 144 hours of related school instruction. However, related work experience can be credited to apprentices by exam and evaluation by the Joint Apprenticeship Committee. In addition, apprenticeship applicants must be at least 17 years old. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.

Besides apprenticeships, some workers gain skills by attend­ing technical schools that offer training prior to employment. These schools can take about a year to complete. Others receive training through local vocational high schools and Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.


Painters working as employees work under the license of the employer/contractor. Those wishing to enter self-employment as a contractor must obtain a contractors license through the Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board. To obtain a general contractors license, the applicant must have at least 4 years experience at a journeyman level in the last 10 years. However, education and apprenticeship programs may count for some of the experience requirement. Active licenses must be renewed every two years and inactive licenses every four years. For more information about the different license classifictions and requirements, please visit the website for the Contractors State License Board at Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information.Click on the license title below for details.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Painters, Construction and Maintenance are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Building Finishing Contractors 40.3%
Residential Building Construction 4.2%
Local Government 2.5%
Activities Related to Real Estate 1.7%
Motion Picture and Video Industries 1.3%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

What Employers Say...

The Employment Development Department surveyed 28 employers in San Diego County which employ 871 Painters, Construction and Maintenance. Here's what they had to say:

About Full-Time/Part-Time: All of these firms employ full-time and many employ part-time Painters, Construction and Maintenance.

About Work Experience:  Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, all require new hires to have prior work experience as Painters, Construction and Maintenance. In the table below, percentages may not add to 100% since employers may select more than one time period.

How Much Work Experience
Do Employers Require?
More than 5 years 11%
25 to 60 months 20%
13 to 24 months 36%
1 to 12 months 44%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Recruitment:  Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, many indicate it is easy to find applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements, while many indicate it is easy to find applicants without previous experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements to fill vacancies for Painters, Construction and Maintenance.

About Hiring:  Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, most expect the number of Painters, Construction and Maintenance they employ to remain stable during the coming year.

Hiring Expectations
Expect Employment to Increase 7%
Expect Employment to Remain Stable 75%
Expect Employment to Decline 18%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Vacancies:  Of the 28 employers surveyed in San Diego County, 68 percent hired Painters, Construction and Maintenance during the past year. Of the hiring firms, 42 percent filled existing vacancies, 21 percent filled newly created positions, and 47 percent filled temporary assignments.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job listings provide helpful local job leads. Union members should register with their local hiring hall for job referrals. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Painters, Construction and Maintenance.

  • Painting Contractors

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Promotion for Painters is achieved by going through the regular skill levels to reach journey-level. Some workers advance to supervisor, superintendent, cost estimator, or sales associate.

Painters may go into business as painting contractors. Businesses involved in painting contracting need licensing from the Contractors State Licensing Board of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

For those who would like to advance, it is becoming important to be able to communicate in both English and Spanish in order to direct workers with limited English skills. Painting contractors also need good English skills to deal with clients and subcontractors.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Painters, Construction and Maintenance with links to more information.

Furniture FinishersProfile
Helpers--Painters, Paperhangers, Plasterers, and Stucco MasonsProfile

Other Sources

  • California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards
  • Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Workforce Development Department
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • National Association of Corrosion Engineers
  • Painting and Decorating Contractors of America

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification47-2141
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Painters, Construction and Maintenance47-2141.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCE
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Painting/Painter and Wall Coverer 460408
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Painting, Decorating, and Flooring095270