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Painter Outlook: Sunny, Tilting South

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

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Washington is painting a bright job picture for industrial painters for the rest of the decade, with decent wages and strong job prospects, especially in the South.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ new Occupational Outlook for Construction and Maintenance Painters reports 18 percent job growth (about average) for 2010-2020, requiring only a high school education and bringing wages a bit higher than average.

 Job prospects are excellent for industrial painters, especially in the Gulf Coast, the Labor Department said.

 Photos, Charts: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job prospects are excellent for industrial painters, especially in the Gulf Coast, the Labor Department said.

“Overall job prospects should be good, and opportunities for industrial painters and coaters are expected to be excellent, especially in the Gulf Coast region,” says the new report.

The report paints a literally sunny picture of industrial painting.

“Most industrial painters work outside, almost always in dry, warm weather,” it says. On the other hand, it concedes, “Painting requires a lot of climbing, bending, kneeling and stretching. Those who paint bridges or building infrastructure may be exposed to extreme heights and uncomfortable positions.”

By the Numbers

U.S. businesses employed about 390,500 construction and maintenance painters (SOC 47-2141) in 2010. The average wage was $34,280 per year or about $16.48 per hour, BLS said.

The construction and maintenance painting industry will add about 72,100 jobs between 2010 and 2020, reflecting a job growth rate on par with the overall average, the Labor Department said.

The path to industrial painting can take several routes, the outlook notes. Some painters undergo a three- or four-year apprenticeship, although some unions have additional time requirements. Many painters still learn their trade informally, on the job, and some contractors offer their own training programs.

Finally, the outlook notes painter training and certification programs offered by professional and industry organizations.

Job Prospects

The report foresees “excellent” job prospects for industrial painters, especially in the South.

“Growing demand for industrial painting will be driven by the need to prevent corrosion and deterioration of the many industrial structures by painting or coating them,” the Labor Department says.

 Automotive painters should remain in demand, some working a 50+-hour week.
Automotive painters should remain in demand, some working a 50+-hour week.

“Overall job prospects should be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation” and because the jobs available “should be greater than the pool of qualified individuals to fill them.”

The report added: “Although industrial structures that require painting are located throughout the nation, the best employment opportunities should be in the Gulf Coast region, where strong demand and the largest concentration of workers exist.”

New painters and those with little experience may find the going a bit tougher, and the industry is highly sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, the report cautioned.

Painting & Coating Workers

The outlook is somewhat different for Painting and Coating Workers, which includes transportation equipment and manufacturing painters, as well as those who apply decorative paint to articles like furniture, toys and pottery.

The Occupational Outlook for Painting and Coating Workers  predicts an overall job growth rate of 9 percent (slower than average) for those painters from 2010 to 2020. However, the agency added, “Job opportunities should be good for those with painting experience.”

Wages: Painters, Construction and Maintenance

The 155,200 Painting and Coating Workers employed in 2010 had a median income of $31,170 per year and median wage of $14.99 per hour, BLS said.

‘Uncomfortable Positions’

Most of these jobs require only a high school diploma and limited training, although the automotive industry may even hire workers without a diploma and train them for up to two years.

The job description notes that painting and coating workers “often must stand for long periods. When using a spray gun, they may have to bend, stoop, or crouch in uncomfortable positions to reach different parts of the products.”

The description is also candid about the dangers of the work.

“Painting, coating, and decorating workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses compared to all others occupations,” BLS reports. “Workers risk muscle strains and exposure to toxic materials.”

Advances in paint-booth and ventilation technology are helping to improve the safety of the work environment, it adds.

Most painters work full time, and automotive painters “often work more than 50 hours a week,” the Labor Department said.

Job Prospects

Although overall employment in the industry is projected at just 9 percent through 2020, the prospects vary greatly by industry sector.

Painting, Coating and Decorating Workers (SOC 51-9123)—those who paint, coat and decorate articles—should grow by 17 percent over the period.

Quick Facts: Painters, Construction and Maintenance

However, Coating, Painting, and Spraying Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders (SOC 51-9121)—those who set up, operate or tend paint and coating equipment—will see the slowest job growth, at just 6 percent over the decade.

Jobs for transportation equipment painters (SOC 51-9122) will fall in the middle, growing by about 9 percent. “Nearly all employment growth will be driven by the need for painters in auto repair shops,” the Labor Department said.

Good Help Still Hard to Find

On the other hand, good workers will remain in demand, the report says.

“As with many skilled manufacturing jobs, employers often report difficulty finding qualified workers,” it said. “Therefore, job opportunities should be very good for those with painting experience.”

It adds, “Job openings also should result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation and from increased specialization in manufacturing. Although higher educational requirements would normally reduce competition for automotive painters in repair shops, the large number of people who enjoy working on cars should offset that reduction.”


Tagged categories: Construction; Economy; Jobs; Labor; Maintenance coating work; Painters

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