Painter and Decorator

What is a Painter and Decorator?

A Painter and Decorator is a skilled professional responsible for enhancing the appearance of buildings, both inside and out. They play a vital role in improving the aesthetics and functionality of homes and other structures. In this guide, we’ll delve into the role of a Painter and Decorator, their responsibilities, the path to becoming one, potential salaries, career prospects, and related opportunities.

What Does a Painter and Decorator Do?

Painters and Decorators are tasked with several important responsibilities:

Enhancing Building Interiors and Exteriors

  • Improving the look and feel of a building’s interior and exterior surfaces.
  • Applying various decorative techniques to enhance visual appeal.
  • Preparing surfaces, including cleaning and smoothing, and applying primers, undercoats, and topcoats of paint.
  • Installing wall coverings such as wallpaper.

Tool Usage

  • Utilizing a range of tools, including brushes, rollers, and spraying equipment, to perform their tasks effectively.

Colour and Design

  • Demonstrating an eye for colour and design, making creative choices to achieve desired aesthetics.

Measuring and Calculations

  • Accurately measuring surfaces and calculating material quantities needed for projects.

How to Become a Painter and Decorator

Becoming a Painter and Decorator involves specific entry requirements, training programs, and the development of essential skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Entry Requirements

  • A foundation in key subjects like Maths, Design and Technology, and English, typically achieved through GCSE/National 5 passes, is beneficial.
  • Numeracy skills are crucial, as you’ll often need to calculate area and material quantities.
  • Vocational qualifications like the City & Guilds Level 1 Certificate/Award in Basic Construction Skills can provide a solid foundation in the industry.
  • Working as a decorator’s labourer is another way to gain basic skills.


  • Consider pursuing a construction apprenticeship, leading to an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 qualification.
  • During your apprenticeship, most of your training will occur on the job, supplemented by day or block-release sessions at college to obtain qualifications such as an NVQ/SVQ Diploma in Decorative Finishing – Painting and Decorating (Construction) at Level 2 and 3.
  • CITB Diplomas in Decorative Finishing and Industrial Painting Occupations (Construction) at Level 2 and 3 are also valuable qualifications.
  • Explore opportunities through the Construction Apprenticeship Scheme.


  • Those interested in heritage work can pursue specialized training in graining, marbling, and gilding by completing the NVQ Level 3 in Heritage Skills (Construction).


  • Obtaining a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card is mandatory for on-site work.
  • To qualify for a CSCS card, you typically need a relevant NVQ qualification and pass a health and safety test.
  • A trainee card is available for those working toward a relevant NVQ qualification.

Driving License

  • A driving license is essential for transporting materials and equipment to job sites.

Working Conditions

Working as a Painter and Decorator comes with specific conditions:

  • Most of the work is indoors, but outdoor projects also occur.
  • You’ll frequently work on ladders or scaffolding, so comfort with heights is important.
  • Protective gear, including masks to prevent inhaling paint fumes, may be required.
  • A typical working week is observed, but weekend work and overtime are common.

Painter and Decorator Salary

Salaries for Painters and Decorators can vary based on experience and the type of projects they’re involved in. Here’s an approximate salary range:

  • Trainees and new entrants can expect to earn between £15,000 and £18,000 per year.
  • Qualified painters and decorators with NVQ Level 2 or 3 can earn between £21,000 and £25,000 per year.
  • Those with specialist skills and supervisory roles can earn up to £30,000 per year.
  • Self-employed professionals set their own rates, leading to variable income levels.

Please note that these figures are approximate and may vary based on factors like location and specialization.

Career Prospects and Progression

Painters and Decorators have several career progression opportunities:

  • They can work for painting and decorating companies, building contractors, local authorities, or the NHS.
  • Specialization options include domestic, commercial, new build, or industrial work.
  • With experience, you can progress to supervisory roles or transition into related areas like estimating or contract management, particularly within larger organizations.
  • Further training can lead to specialization in restoration work or teaching roles as college lecturers or craft teachers.
  • Self-employment is a popular choice, allowing professionals to work on a sub-contract basis or take their skills abroad.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Working as a Painter and Decorator has its advantages and disadvantages:


  • Opportunities to be creative and see the visual transformation of buildings.
  • High demand for skilled professionals, especially with a shortage of painters and decorators in the UK.


  • Working at extreme heights may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Exposure to paint fumes and challenging working conditions can be demanding.

Related Opportunities

If you’re interested in the construction and decorating industry, you may also consider related career opportunities:

  • Construction Operative: Working on various aspects of construction projects.
  • Plasterer: Specializing in plastering surfaces for a smooth finish.
  • Wall/Floor Tiler: Focusing on tiling surfaces for aesthetic and functional purposes.

Further Information

For more information on pursuing a career as a Painter and Decorator, you can explore resources from the Painting & Decorating Association (

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