How To Become a Painter

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: March 16, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Creative
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Before you can figure out how to become a painter, you have to decide on a type of painter. There are house painters, artistic painters (muralists), industrial painters, and many other types of painters. The path you will take to become a painter will depend on the type of painter you want to become.

Regardless of the type of painter you want to become, you will need the right training. Let’s look at some of the most common steps you must follow to become a painter.

How To Become a Painter in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Figure Out What It Will Take

Before you go any further, it’s important to figure out what it will take to become a painter. If you want to become a house painter, the path might include a different level of education than an industrial painter.

It’s important to make sure you figure out the requirements. You might need a license in some painting professions, while others don’t require any type of education. However, even if you don’t need a specific education, the right training might make a difference.

Step #2 – Get the Right Education/Training

The next step is to become trained or educated for the type of painting you want to do. If you plan to become a house painter, you will likely need to get an associate degree. This path may also include an apprenticeship. Some community colleges will offer programs for house painting.

Those looking to go into artistic painting may need a more advanced degree or training. There are many skills you want to master as your fundamentals. Then, you’ll want to grow from there.

Some painters will have to learn specific styles, as they may work to recreate famous paintings. A degree in fine art, painting or anything artistic can help with this type of career path.

One of the ways you can learn the right skills is with online courses. There are many online courses you can take to learn the artistic skills necessary to become a painter. Even house painters may be able to take online courses to learn the different techniques used.

Step #3 – Get your Painter’s License

In some states, it’s necessary to get a painter’s license. This type of license is often for house painters and can help quite a bit. Painting professionals will get a license from the state to work as painting contractors. This license will likely need to be renewed every few years.

With a painter’s license, you gain credibility. You will show that you have the right insurance to get your painter’s license. You will also have to meet basic requirements. With a painter’s license, you can easily market yourself to employers and clients.

The requirements to get your painter’s license will depend on your state. Always check with our state to see if you need to pass state exams, get a surety bond, or get the right insurance.

Step #4 – Gain Certification

Along with a painter’s license, you can become certified as a painting contractor. This is typically the path for house painters, but there may be some certifications for artistic painters, too.

You will likely need to take a course, pass an exam, and pay a fee to become certified. With the right certifications, you can show off your skills and gain credibility as a painter.

The most common painting certifications come from:

There are many other certifications out there, too. With a little research, you can find the right certifications for your needs.

Step #5 – Build a Resume/Portfolio

Having a professional portfolio and resume can help you as a painter. There are plenty of ways to build your resume and portfolio.

The resume will be built by taking on painting jobs and showing your experience. It can also be built through certifications, education, and training.

Your portfolio is more about what you have painted. Whether it’s a house or it’s a piece of art you’ve painted, it belongs in your portfolio. This will help you show off your skills, as a painter.

Different Types of Painters

As mentioned before, there are different types of painters. You can become a painter and go into many different types of work. Let’s look at some of the different types of painters.

House Painters

A house painter is someone that paints houses. They may handle both indoor and outdoor painting. Sometimes, house painters only do indoor painting or just outdoor painting. As a house painter, you will likely climb ladders and handle specific job duties, such as:

These are the common job duties of a house painter.

According to VocationalTrainingHQ.com, house painters can expect to make around $44K per year. However, if you’re just starting out, you might make closer to $27K per year. The salary range may go as high as about $67K for house painters.

Industrial Painters

An industrial painter will handle cleaning, painting, and varnishing. They will paint buildings, cars, houses, and even equipment. It’s common for industrial painters to have a college degree, but it’s not necessary.

You will need to learn how to use the spray paint equipment to become an industrial painter. You will likely gain training on specific applications for industrial painting.

Most industrial painters will make around $17.63 per hour, according to Zippia.com. This is a field growing at a pace slightly faster than all occupations.

Restoration Painters

If you become a restoration painter, you will be responsible for restoring pieces of art. This may include fixing damage to painters. This career isn’t growing very fast at all and it’s very specialized. You can make an average of about $28.39 per hour in this type of position.

Auto Body Painters

Those looking to paint cars will want to become an auto body painter. This type of position will include actually painting vehicles, along with doing touch-up jobs, and painting sections of vehicles to match after an accident.

As an auto body painter, you will earn a potential average salary of about $45K, according to OnlineDegree.com. This is a career that can come with flexible hours, as well.

Fine Art Painters

As a fine art painter, you will create your own paintings. This is a very creative career and most fine artists have at least a bachelor’s degree. You will need to learn the right techniques and master several skills.

It’s hard to put a salary on this type of painter. You will likely make money when you sell your work or when you earn a commission for a specific painting for a client.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Painter

Do I need a degree to become a painter?

Most painters don’t need a college degree. According to Indeed.com, about 85% of painters only have a high school diploma or a GED. However, this likely doesn’t include artistic painters.

What type of training is necessary to become a house painter?

If you want to become a house painter, you will likely complete an apprenticeship or on-the-job training course. Formal training isn’t required, but if you want to work in a higher-level house painting career, you will need the right training.

An apprenticeship program may last two or even four years. It will be paid and you will learn many different painting techniques. Often, you can get an associate’s degree through this type of program.

What type of training will I need to get to become a fine art painter?

If you want to go into fine art painting, it can be self-taught. Some painters just have a natural talent, but still require refining their skills. No formal education is necessary, but many painters will gain a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.

There are many programs you can attend at colleges. These programs may be short, such as a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program. You will likely enter a specialty within your degree program, too.

Where do painters work?

Many painters are trade painters. This means they work as house painters, industrial painters, or other types of painters in an industry.

While many painters work as trade painters, many are also fine artists. More than half of the fine artists are self-employed.

If you want to learn how to become a painter, it’s necessary to know the type of painter you want to become. The information provided above works great as a good starting point. You can do a bit of research on the type of painter you want to be to find the actual steps to become a painter and go into the career of your choice.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!