Automotive Painters

Automotive painters are highly-skilled manual spray operators. They prepare vehicles for painting by sanding the original paint or rust, filling dents and scratches with body putty, and removing parts that don’t need painting. Using a hand-controlled spray gun, they apply successive coats of primer until the damaged area matches the original finish. Between primer coats, they often place the vehicle under a heat lamp or other device to speed up the drying process. After the final coat of primer is dried and sanded, they apply a sealer and a final coat of paint.

Job Skills

Automotive painters need to have good health and great eyesight. It is also very important to have an aptitude for matching colors. Arithmetic skills, good manual dexterity, and the ability to do precision work are all essential. They should be careful with tools and motivated to learn.


In 2002, automotive body repairers earned a median hourly wage of $16.13. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $9.70, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $26.48. The median hourly wage in automotive repair and maintenance shops was $15.86, and in motor vehicle manufacturing it was $23.23.

Training and Education

Courses in automotive body repair are offered by high schools, community colleges, and vocational schools can give automotive painters a strong edge in the hiring process, as employers prefer to hire workers with formal education. However, many candidates enter the work force with little education or experience and gain skills by working with experienced painters. Beginners start with the more menial tasks such as removing trim and sanding surfaces, and then progress to more difficult tasks like mixing paint and using spray guns to apply primer. Some employers offer apprenticeship programs, which usually last four years. Typically, it takes workers three to four years of training to reach proficiency in all aspects of automotive painting. You can check out a list of Auto Mechanic Schools by clicking on this link.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of automotive painters is expected to increase faster than the average. This is due to the fact that, because of the detailed nature of the work, the refinishing of automobiles is not susceptible to automation. The demand for refinishing is expected to increase, and productivity growth in this sector is expected to move slowly. This will lead to employment increases. The increasing number of lighter vehicles that are prone to greater damage in collisions will also increase demand for these types of workers.