Painting and Coating Worker Career Description


Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, often with the use of machines.

What they do

Painting and coating workers typically do the following:

  • Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products
  • Select the paint or coating needed for the job
  • Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated
  • Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating
  • Apply paint or coating
  • Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas

Painting and coating workers paint items ranging from cars to furniture. They apply paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other types of liquid applications to make a product more attractive and protect it from the elements. The paint finish on an automobile, for example, makes the vehicle more attractive and provides protection from corrosion.

Before workers begin to apply the paint or other coating, they often prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it carefully to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. Workers also may mask or cover portions of the product with tape and paper before painting the product.

After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. A common technique is dipping an item in a large vat of paint or some other coating. Spraying products with paint or another coating is also common. Many factories use automated painting systems.

The following are examples of types of painting and coating workers:

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine. During the process, these workers program the machine, tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to touch up flaws.

Painting, coating, and decorating workers apply coatings to furniture, glass, pottery, toys, books, and other products. Paper is often coated to give it a gloss. Silver, tin, and copper solutions are frequently sprayed onto glass to make mirrors.

Transportation equipment painters are the best-known group of painting and coating workers. They paint various types of transportation equipment, including cars, aircraft, and boats.


Work Environment

Painting and coating is usually done in specially ventilated areas. Nonetheless, workers must wear masks or respirators that cover their nose and mouth.

Painting and coating workers often stand for long periods. They also may have to bend, stoop, or crouch in uncomfortable positions to reach different parts of the products they work on.


How to become a Painting and Coating Worker

Most painting and coating workers learn on the job after earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Training for new workers usually lasts several months.

Painting and coating workers usually must have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some employers hire workers who lack a high school diploma.

Taking high school courses in automotive painting can be helpful.

Some automotive painters attend a technical or vocational school where they receive hands-on training and learn the intricacies of mixing and applying different types of paint.

Although some worker training may last only a few days, most entry-level workers receive on-the-job training that may last from 1 month to several months.

Workers who operate computer-controlled equipment may require additional training in computer programming.



The median annual wage for coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders was $38,150 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,220.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of painting and coating workers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by occupation and industry.

Much of the job growth for painting and coating workers will occur in automotive repair shops, where the irregular nature of the work makes automation difficult.


Similar Job Titles

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders:

Coater Operator, Hand Sprayer, Industrial Painter, Machine Operator, Paint Technician, Painter, Powder Coater, Press Operator, Silk Screen Operator, Spray Painter

Painting, coating, and decorating workers:

Decaler, Decorator, Glass Decorator, Glazer, In Mold Coater, Painter, Pottery Decorator, Silk-Screen Operator, Spray Painter, Sprayer

Transportation equipment painters:

Facilities Painter, Foreman, Highway Painter, House Painter, Industrial Painter, Journeyman Painter, Maintenance Painter, Painter, Painter Foreman, Senior Painter

Related Occupations

Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders:

Cutting and Slicing Machine Setter, Operator and Tender; Extruding, Forming, Pressing and Compacting Machine Setter, Operators and Tenders; Packaging and Filling Machine Operator and Tender; Adhesive Bonding Machine Operator and Tender; Molding and Casting Worker

Painting, coating, and decorating workers:

Welding, Soldering and Brazing Machine Setter, Operator and Tender; Print Binding and Finishing Worker; Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Worker; Cutter and Trimmer, Hand; Stone Cutter and Carver, Manufacturing

Transportation equipment painters:

Terrazzo Worker and Finisher; Glazier; Insulation Worker, Floor, Ceiling and Wall; Insulation Workers, Mechanical; Paperhanger


More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.


Magazines and Publications



Video Transcript

From candy-apple hot rods to glossy paper, and weatherproof furniture painting and coating workers use machines to paint and coat a wide range of items to enhance their beauty and protect surfaces. These workers prepare a surface by sanding or cleaning it, then cover portions of the product to direct the paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other coating. Painting and coating workers use different techniques dipping items in vats of paint, spraying products with coatings, or using automated painting systems. Some create mirrors by spraying metallic solutions onto glass. Proper coating and an even finish are always the goal, so workers carefully monitor their progress, making adjustments when needed. At the end of any project, cleaning equipment and work areas is essential. Transportation equipment painters specialize; most work in car repair and paint shops. They mix paints to match colors, and may paint intricate, detailed custom jobs. Some paint huge ships and construction equipment, and touch up damaged paint surfaces. Most painting and coating workers are employed full time, and may work overtime when business is brisk. They often stand for long periods and even working in ventilated areas may wear masks or respirators that cover their nose and mouth. Skills are generally learned on the job after earning a high school education.


Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online