Painters and Paperhangers


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 228,420 painters and 2,780 paperhangers employed in the United States; most of them are trade union members. Approximately 38 percent of these workers are self-employed. Jobs are found mainly with contractors who work on projects such as new construction, remodeling, and restoration; others are found as maintenance workers for such establishments as schools, apartment complexes, and high-rise buildings.

Starting Out

If you wish to become an apprentice, you should contact employers or the union headquarters of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. You must, however, have the approval of the joint labor-management apprenticeship committee before you can enter the occupation by this method. If the apprentice program is filled, you may wish to enter the trade as an on-the-job trainee. In this case, you usually should contact employers directly to begin work as a helper.

Advancement Prospects

Successful completion of one of the two types of training programs is necessary before individuals can become qualified, skilled painters or paperhangers. If workers have management ability and good planning skills, and if they work for a large contracting firm, they may advance to the following positions: supervisor, who supervises and coordinates activities of other workers; painting and decorating contract estimator, who computes material requirements and labor costs; or superintendent, who oversees a large contract painting job.

Some painters and paperhangers, once they have acquired enough capital and business experience, go into business for themselves as painting and decorating contractors. These self-employed workers must be able to take care of all standard business affairs, such as bookkeeping, insurance and legal matters, advertising, and billing.

Tips for Entry

Join the Internation Union of Painters and Allied Trades, which offers a free subscription to its journal,

Familiarize yourself with lead paint issues by visiting the EPA's Web site,

If you choose to go into business for yourself, make sure you check with your local municipality to adhere to any regulations or procedures, such as acquiring permits or licenses.

Consider becoming certified by NACE International. Certification requires a high school diploma, taking an online class, and completing an application. Visit for more information.