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Paint Sprayer

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Paint Sprayer

The Work

As a paint sprayer you would apply decorative finishes and protective coatings to products, using a manual spray gun or automated equipment. You would normally work in one of four sectors manufacturing, engineering, construction or the automotive industry.

On a manufacturing production line you would apply finishes to white goods (ovens, fridges and dishwashers), furniture and other consumer items. On a construction or engineering site, you would work on buildings or large structures, for example ships and bridges. You could also work as a paint sprayer in a vehicle body repair and customisation workshop.

Your duties could include:

  • setting up the spray equipment
  • making sure all the materials are mixed correctly to get the right colour and consistency
  • preparing the surfaces to be covered
  • applying primer coats
  • applying main coats, followed by the finish
  • checking finished jobs as part of quality control
  • cleaning and maintaining spray equipment.

You would follow strict safety procedures covering the use of hazardous materials, taking care to avoid contaminating the coatings and work area.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week on a shift rota.

If your job is in manufacturing, you are likely to work in a clean and specially ventilated section of a factory or in a paint booth. In construction, a lot of your time would be spent outside on site, often working from ladders, mobile raised platforms or scaffolding.

You would normally wear protective clothing, including gloves, overalls and a face mask.

Skills and Interests

  • good concentration levels
  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • good practical skills
  • the ability to follow written instructions and keep records
  • a safety-conscious approach to work
  • the ability to work alone and as part of a team
  • good hand-to-eye coordination.


You could become a paint sprayer after completing an Apprenticeship in manufacturing, engineering or motor vehicle finishing. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit

Alternatively, you could take a college course which would teach you some of the skills needed for this career. Relevant courses include:

  • BTEC Certificate/Diploma in Vehicle Technology levels 2 and 3
  • City & Guilds Entry Level Award in Vehicle Systems and Body and Paint Maintenance
  • City & Guilds Certificate/Diploma in Vehicle Body and Paint Operations
  • Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) awards in Vehicle Body and Paint Operations (Refinishing) levels 1 to 3.

You would be expected to have normal colour vision for this work.

To find out more about paint spraying careers, visit the Construction Skills website and the IMI website.


You would normally be trained in the workplace under the supervision of more experienced staff. You may be able to study for NVQ qualifications relating to your specific area of work, such as:

  • Performing Manufacturing Operations levels 1 and 2
  • Performing Engineering Operations levels 1 and 2
  • Vehicle Body and Paint Operations levels 2 and 3
  • Materials Processing and Finishing levels 2 and 3
  • Decorative Finishing and Industrial Painting Occupations levels 2 and 3.

You could also work towards the City & Guilds Certificate in Coatings Technology at levels 3 to 5.

Your employer may occasionally send you on short courses offered by equipment and coatings manufacturers, covering the use of their products.

Qualifications in surface coatings at various levels are offered through the Institute of Metal Finishing (IMF). Completion of certain course modules leads to the award of a Technician grade Certificate. You can find further information about these courses on the IMF website.


Typical employers include companies in the manufacturing and construction industries, vehicle repair workshops and garages. Vacancies are advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus and on the websites below.

With experience, you could move into shift supervision and workshop management, quality control, health and safety or production management. You may also be able to set up your own paint spraying business.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in new window):
Construction Jobs Network
SCENTA (for engineering paint spraying vacancies)
bConstructive Careers

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Production line paint sprayers can earn between 13,000 and 17,000 a year.
  • Vehicle paint sprayers can earn around 15,000 to 23,000.
  • Paint sprayers in construction can earn between 14,500 and 22,000.
  • Sprayers dealing with specialist coatings may earn up to 24,000 a year.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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