Painter and Decorator Apprenticeship

Work Description

Painters apply paint, stain, varnish, and other finishes to buildings and other structures. They select the right paint or finish for the surface to be covered, taking into account durability, ease of handling, method of application and customers’ wishes. Painters first prepare the surfaces to be covered, so that the paint will adhere properly. This may require moving the old coat of paint by stripping, sanding, wire brushing, burning, or water and abrasive blasting. Painters also wash walls and trim to remove dirt and grease, fill nail holes and cracks, sandpaper rough spots and brush off dust. On new surfaces, they apply a primer or sealer to prepare the surface for the finish coat. Painters also mix paints and match colors, relying on knowledge of paint composition and color harmony. They also cover walls and ceilings with decorative wall coverings made of paper vinyl or fabric.

Working Conditions

Painters and paperhangers stand for prolonged periods. Their jobs also require a considerable amount of climbing, bending, kneeling, crouching, crawling and reaching with arms raised overhead. Painters often work outdoors but seldom in wet, cold or inclement weather. Painters wear masks to reduce exposure to hazardous materials or paint fumes when working in areas with poor ventilation.


  • 4 year training program
  • 6,240 hours on-the-job training
  • 400 hours paid related instruction
  • Minimum of 80 hours unpaid related instruction (the local committee determines the total number of hours of unpaid instruction)
  • Apprentice must complete Red Cross First Aid and OSHA Safety Training Courses (included in 80 hours of unpaid instruction)
  • Apprentice must complete in his/her final year the Transition-To-Trainer Course

Training includes instruction in color harmony, use and care of tools and equipment, surface preparation, application techniques, paint mixing and matching, characteristics of different finishes, blueprint reading, wood finishing and safety.


You can find more information on the Department of Workforce Development of Wisconsin web page.