How To Become A Painter In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become painters and decorators in Australia.


Do you enjoy a hands-on outdoor job involving creativity and practical skills? If so, a career as a painter might suit you.


Painters and decorators paint walls, varnish floorboards, and perform finishing touches to protect, maintain and embellish commercial premises, industrial sites, and homes.


You can become a Painting Trades Worker without formal qualifications. However, completing a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating will make you more competent for the role.


This blog will teach you the essential skills, training, courses, qualifications, how long painting apprenticeships are, salary, and steps to land your dream job as a professional painter.



1. Who Is A "Painter And Decorator"?


Painters and decorators apply paint, special coatings, wallpaper, varnish, and other finishes to residential homes, buildings, schools, and other structures. They do this to protect, maintain and beautify the interiors and exteriors of commercial, residential, and industrial buildings and other facilities.


Painters can work as construction painters who paint buildings and houses or as artists who produce and sell fine pieces of artwork at art shows or museums. They are skilled in working in various mediums, from watercolour to oil.



2. What Does A "Painter And Decorator" Do?


The painter's main job is to paint and design rooms and buildings to exceed client expectations. 


Following are the typical day-to-day duties of a painter:


  • Choose the right colours in a room as per the client's instructions. 

  • Interpret client plans and find out how to embrace the client's requests in any event

  • Work with different materials, such as timber, metal, paint, and plaster, to enhance the structure's appearance.

  • Figure out the best paint styles to make intricate patterns, structures, and illustrations 

  • Add unique touches to the interior and exterior surfaces, including walls, ceilings, benchtops, decorators, backdrop, and ground surface.

  • Collaborate with clients to create a finished product per the building plan 

  • Erect ladders and scaffolders

  • Place drop sheets to safeguard adjacent regions from splashes of paint. 

  • Take surface measurements or refer to job specifications and drawings to determine the required materials. 

  • Use sanders, scrapers, liquid paint removers, steam strippers, or heat guns to remove old paint or paper. 

  • Prepare surfaces by removing old paper and paint, sealing holes, joints, and cracks, fixing woodwork, and smoothening surfaces. 

  • Use high-pressure wash systems to eliminate grease and dust.

  • Choose paints and mix proportions of tinters, pigment, thinning agents, oil, and drying additives to get the right paint colours. 

  • Clean equipment and workspaces

  • Apply paints and varnishes and add finishing touches using a brush, rollers, spray gun, and other specialized equipment

  • Apply wallpapers by trimming the edges of the paper to the right length, applying glue to the backside of each paper strip, hanging the strip on the wall, and smoothening out any bubbles or wrinkles 

  • Apply a variety of decorative paint finishes that includes gold leaf, stencils, graining, marbling, lettering, colour glaze, and texture finishes

  • Lay and repair floor and wall tiles

  • Repair or replace glass in metal and wooden frames



3. What Skills Do You Need To Become A Painter?


It is easy to paint a wall, but it takes years of practice to create a finished product that meets professional standards. Having relevant practical skills holds immense importance in any painting and decorating work.


The following are the artistic and soft skills required to perform and succeed in this role:



Technical Skills


  • Able to read and understand plans, estimates, and internal/external paint applications 

  • Able to use painting and decorating tools, equipment, and materials

  • Able to prepare and match colours

  • Knowledge of different types of timber finishes and coatings

  • Able to apply wallpaper, special coating, and finishes 

  • Knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety standards



Soft Skills


  • Interest in painting and decoration 

  • Good artistic and creative skills

  • A steady hand

  • Enjoy practical hands-on work

  • Comfortable working at heights

  • Good hand-eye coordination

  • Meticulous attention to detail 

  • Patience

  • Determined to deliver a high standard of work

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Work ethics

  • Normal colour vision

  • Good sense of balance

  • Able to work alone or in a team

  • Great communication skills

  • Good listening skills

  • Able to work under pressure and strict deadlines

  • Able to work in extreme weather conditions



4. Painter Qualifications In Australia


Do you Want to know how to become a painter and decorator? You don't need formal training to work as a painter. 


However, many employers prefer candidates with relevant certification and training.


  1. Complete your Year 10 education.

  2. Complete a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating (CPC30611) at a TAFE institution, RTO, or as part of an apprenticeship. 

  3. To work on construction sites, complete a construction induction painting course and obtain a White Card via an RTO.

  4. Get a license based on the type of work you intend to perform, for example, contract/subcontracts/advertising services. For more information, refer to the state-level guidelines where you wish to work.



5. Steps To Become A Professional Painter In Australia



Step 1: Get Trained


Though formal education is not required to work as a painter, getting a relevant qualification makes it easier to find employment. Being licensed/registered will enable you to work as a painting contractor, become a supervisor, and start your business.


Certificate III in Painting and Decorating is a nationally recognized qualification. It helps students develop practical and creative skills to make a career in the diverse and fast-paced painting industry.


There Are Three Ways To Complete The Certification Program:


  1. Complete an apprenticeship with your employer

  2. Complete a Certification course as part of an apprenticeship on the worksite. Several training schools in Australia offer painting and decorating classes in Sydney and other major cities to enrol for the course. The skills and knowledge you develop because of completing the course will help you become a licensed painter and succeed in this in-demand industry.

  3. Complete a Recognition of Prior Learning Skills Assessment (if you have over four years of experience)


The RPL Assessment gives you credits for demonstrating your professional skills. Later, you can complete the course and gap training (if needed). 


Next, contact the National Institute of Painting and Decorating, the peak professional Australian body for the painting industry, for an interview.



Step 2: Identify Your Niche


"Painting and decorating" is a vast industry with various jobs. Before you start working, you must identify the type of painting you are interested in.


Decide whether you want to work in a commercial or residential space. You can also choose a specific area and specialize in it. Some available specializations include lead paint management, industrial building decoration, wallpaper application, etc.



Step 3: Get The Necessary Accreditation


Do you want to know how to become a construction painter? Painters who wish to work in the construction industry must undertake construction induction training and obtain a "White Card". It makes you qualified to work on operational construction sites.



Step 4: Decide How You Wish To Start


Do you want to know how to become a house painter? Painters can work as painting contractors or by starting their painting and decorating businesses.


If you choose the latter option, you must gain adequate licenses and accreditation to set up and start your painting business. Check with your state/territory regulations and guidelines to gain clarity.



Additionally, to run a business, you require business knowledge and skills. Completing business courses and certifications is vital.



Step 5: Find Work


With the necessary qualification and "White Card", you are ready to apply for local painting jobs.



6. Painter Certifications In Australia


Do you want to know how to become a painter with no experience? A Certificate III in Painting and Decorating is a nationally accredited qualification that gives you specialist skills to transform commercial and residential buildings.


The continuously changing construction industry leads to new regulations and laws for sustainability, business, and safety. The changing painting techniques, materials, and products require painters to stay updated with the new skills and methods.


The Certificate III painting TAFE course equips learners with up-to-date knowledge of innovative technologies and safety information. Thus, undertaking this 4-year full-time course will make you more professional and your business more lucrative.


The following Australian training schools and institutions offer this course:




7. How To Become A Painter Apprentice In Australia?


Are you looking for nationally recognized painting apprenticeship programs in Australia? Skill hire is the best opportunity to gain practical exposure in the painting and decorating field while working towards a free nationally recognized qualification:


  • Delivery Locations: All regional and metro areas in Australia

  • Duration: Approx. 4 years (Full-Time)

  • Program Cost: Free



Entry Requirements For The Apprenticeship Program:


  • Australian citizenship or having an appropriate work visa

  • 15 years and above

  • Completed a related pre-apprenticeship



The Course Will Equip You With Knowledge And Skills In The Following Areas:


  • Prepare interior and exterior surfaces 

  • Apply paint, varnish, wallpaper, and coatings to protect and decorate surfaces

  • Work with painting and decorating equipment, tools, and materials 

  • Match paint colours

  • Erect and dismantle scaffolding to work on raised platforms


Click here to apply for an internship program.



8. Work Conditions For A Painter And Decorator


Being a painter is an outdoor job that requires you to work in various weather conditions. The work involves bending and stretching, and working at heights. The painter usually works standard work hours from 9 am to 5 pm but may need to work overtime to meet project deadlines.


With 76% of workers working full-time for 43 hours a week, the profession offers low part-time opportunities. The average age of the employed workforce is 42 years, and 4% of workers are female.



9. Employment Opportunities For A Painter And Decorator


Work opportunities for Painters and Decorators depend on the construction and renovation activity level. They can work in painting and decorating contracting firms or as self-employed contractors.


Self-employed painters who own their businesses often work with one or more other employees to assist them with their job duties. After becoming proficient with painting indoor walls, painters usually progress to working on the exteriors of offices and homes.


Government agencies related to public works, railways, construction, and housing are common sectors that employ painting trade workers in Australia. Opportunities are also available in supervision, sales, teaching illustration, and painting to students.



10. Job Outlook For Painters In Australia


The Australian Government's Job Outlook website shows a steady rise in painting traders in the past five years. As an occupation high in demand, the government will create more painting job opportunities over the coming five years.


Painting Trades Workers work in various areas across Australia. They may work in the Construction industry for painting or restoration projects in domestic properties, commercial buildings, historical centres, and industrial structures and equipment.



11. How Can Overseas Painters Work In Australia?


Painting and Decorating is a trade work in Australia. The profession is on the current Skilled Occupations List of Australia. However, before starting work, you need to demonstrate your competency in this role.


  • Overseas painters who wish to work in Australia must take a skill assessment test. This test is for "Painting Trades Workers". Trade Recognition Australia is assessing authority.

  • To undertake this test, you must complete a Certificate III in Painting & Decorating course. 

  • After you complete the course, you can apply for the Temporary Skilled Graduate Visa. This work visa gives holders unlimited work rights for up to 1.5 years in Australia. Many visa holders use this time to gain relevant experience or find an employer who can sponsor their visa.

  • Overseas workers can apply for the Job Ready Program after applying for a temporary visa. Under this program, a worker must work for a minimum of 12 months as a qualified Painting Trades Worker. The program assesses the skills of graduates for skilled migration purposes. If you undertake this program, you don't require prior experience to get your skills assessed. 

  • On receiving a positive skills assessment, you can apply for a permanent work visa in the form of a General Skilled Migration Visa or State Sponsored Visa. Applicants must pass the health checks and points test to apply for this visa. Eligible applicants for the general skilled migration visas don't require an employer to sponsor their work visa. 



12. How Much Do Painters Earn In Australia?


The average painter's salary is AU$58,982 per year, equivalent to AU$28.37 per hour. The exact earnings depend on qualification, experience, work location, type of industry, nature of employment (full-time or part-time), and role/responsibilities they undertake.



Average Salary Based On Experience


  • Entry-level Painter (< 1-year experience) earns AU$21.93 per hour

  • Early career Painter (1 to 4 years of experience) earns AU$24.87 per hour

  • Mid-career painter (5 to 9 years of experience) earns AU$29.27 per hour 

  • Experienced painter (10 to 19 years of experience) earns AU$31.34 



Average Salary Based On Location


  • Maribyrnong: $102,580 per year

  • Brisbane: $101,167 per year

  • Melbourne: $98,435 per year

  • Adelaide: $94,556 per year

  • Welshpool: $84,709 per year

  • Gold Coast: $71,897 per year

  • Cairns: $70,814 per year

  • Painter salary NSW (Sydney): $70,377 per year



13. Conclusion


Painting can be fulfilling and productive for people passionate about the artistic world. A decorating and painting apprenticeship is an excellent way to enter this high-demand profession. 


A national accreditation will help you enjoy continued employment and a steady income throughout your professional journey.


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