While many house painters learn their trade by on-the-job training, some complete three or four year apprenticeships, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Apprentices must earn a high school diploma or equivalent, be at least 18 years old and have the physical stamina to do the work. Most states require that paint contractors be licensed.
Learning the Trade
House painters prepare surfaces by scraping or sanding before applying primers, paints, stains and other finishes with rollers, brushes and paint sprayers. Although becoming a house painter requires no specific education requirements, some technical schools offer apprenticeship programs. Unions generally require apprentices to complete a minimum of 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training for each year of apprenticeship to meet the work experience requirements.
Meeting the Licensing Requirements
Each state differs in its licensing requirements for contractors, including painters. Paint contractors can get information about the number of years experience and education they need to become licensed from their state's licensing board. In many states, painters must pass a criminal background check, which may include fingerprinting. House painters also must have general liability insurance and be bonded to become licensed.
Proving Work Experience
A paint contractor applying for a license must be fully qualified to do the work without supervision. Most states require paint contractors to provide their state's licensing board with documented proof of work experience, usually verified through payroll records. Some licensing boards count credits earned through education and apprenticeship programs toward the experience requirement. The future demand for experienced house painters remains strong as qualified painters who leave the trade each year need to be replaced.
Passing the Required Exams
Unless waived, applicants in most states are required to pass a licensure examination for the trade license for which they are applying. In some states, paint contractors applying for a license also are required to pass a written law and business examination. Depending on local laws and regulations, a paint contractor may need to apply for a business license and permit from the city or county.
Becoming Lead-Safe Certified
Under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, any contractors, including special trade contractors such as painters, paid to do work that disturbs lead paint in structures built before 1978 must be lead-safe certified. (See Reference 4) Painters who will not be working in a state that provides its own lead contractors certification program can submit a completed certification application and the required fee directly to the EPA.