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Job Descriptions

House Painter

House painters work with a variety of painting materials applying paint and other finishes to the exterior (outside) and interior (inside) surfaces of houses. House painters can work for private companies (subcontractor) or they can be self-employed (contractor). If you are a house painter, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., painting walls and ceilings).


This job usually does not have an educational requirement; however some employers may require a high school diploma and/or a GED certificate. 

Previous Experience

Previous experience using paint is preferred. Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience in the same or similar area of employment, it is strongly encouraged that you apply if you have the required skills.

Job Duties

(Duties will vary based on whether or not you are self-employed.)

  • Submit cost estimates for painting jobs (either by customer request or by bidding).
  • Consult with your customer regarding their painting needs.
  • Develop a timeline or schedule for your customer regarding how long the painting job will take.
  • Choose and buy painting supplies for painting jobs.
  • Remove any furniture or items (if they have not already been removed by the customer) from the room you are painting in.
  • Cover any remaining items, furniture, or other surfaces (e.g., floors, molding) with painter’s tape or drop cloths, such as plastic, to prevent paint from getting on them.
  • Clean the surfaces to be painted by power washing walls (if outdoor) or using wet cloths and scrapers (if indoor).
  • Fill or patch any holes in walls/ceilings using caulk, plaster, and putty.
  • Apply paint primers or sealers if needed.
  • Apply paint using spray guns, brushes, rollers and texturing tools, such as sponges.
  • Set up ladders, stools, or other devices to help reach walls and ceilings.
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

For some jobs, it depends on whether you work mainly with the public (e.g., clients/customers) or just co-workers. For example, this job requires that you are able to work ‘In the Scene’. If you are working as a self-employed house painter, you will be working with customers regularly. You will need to communicate well with your customers to help meet their painting needs and to negotiate contract fees, therefore you must have relatively strong social skills. 


This job requires that you are able to work ‘Behind the Scene’. If you are working as a house painter for a private company, you may not have to talk with customers on a regular basis, but you will be working near customers or in customers’ homes.  You will be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (e.g., other painters) or take direction from supervisors or customers.

Skills / Abilities

Painting Knowledge - Ability and knowledge of techniques regarding painting materials (e.g., use of primers, sealers, mixing paint) and when to use them.

Painting Equipment Operation – Ability and knowledge to properly operate painting equipment, such as power washers, scrapers, wire brushes,  sanders, spray guns,  brushes, rollers and texturing tools, such as sponges.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your arms, hands, wrists, and fingers to paint.

Physical Strength – This job requires particularly strong upper body strength, as you are using your arms to hold painting tools regularly. You will also need a good sense of balance, especially if you are doing work on a ladder.

Attention to Detail - This job requires that you pay careful attention to what you are doing. For example, you will want to make sure that you are able to carefully paint corners of ceilings without getting that paint on side walls or molding.

Customer Service Skills - If you are speaking directly with a customer, you will need to have customer service skills.  This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to calmly deal with high stress situations and upset/angry customers. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.

Environmental Demands

Location - As a house painter, you could be working indoors or outdoors, depending on the type of painting work you have to do. If you are working outdoors, you will be exposed to all types of weather (e.g., sun, rain, snow, heat and humidity).

Noise Level - The noise level will generally be quiet as you will either be working inside or outside of someone’s home.

Lighting Level - You will usually be exposed to natural lighting (e.g., sunlight) if working outdoors. If you work indoors, you will be exposed to moderate (regular) lighting.

Work Hours - This job will typically have long working shifts. As you will be working in or around people's homes, you will typically be working from 9am to 5pm.

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you stand for long periods of time and requires the extensive use of your upper body (arms). You will need to be able to stand, sit, walk, bend, stoop, reach, stretch, lift, and climb for this job. For example, you may need to climb a tall ladder and reach over it to paint a wall using a roller.

Cleanliness and Odors – If you are working as a house painter, you will be working with painting materials such as caulk, putty, plaster, paint, stain, varnish, and you will usually get messy.  In addition, these materials emit strong odors, so you will need to be okay working with them.

Work Attire - Work attire will typically be casual clothing or overalls as you will get paint on your clothes. You may also want to wear a hat so you do not get paint on your hair or face.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a higher degree of structure and predictability.  This means that you will usually complete the same tasks each day and you may be able to complete these tasks in the same order each day (e.g., remove furniture, repair holes with putty, paint with primer, then paint with regular paint).  You will probably know how long each task should take you to complete.  You may not work in the same areas each day (same part of the house or different houses), and you may not interact with the same people each day.

What's the Pace?

    • Steady:  In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that you will always have some work to do.  When the work pace is steady, you are working at a level “5” on a scale of “1” (nothing to do) to “10” (extremely busy, rushed pace).

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