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Painter and Decorator


Painters and decorators apply paint, coatings and other finishes to interior and exterior surfaces of buildings and industrial structures.

In general, painters and decorators:

  • estimate the quantity of materials required by measuring surfaces, consulting drawings or reviewing a work order,
  • remove old coatings by stripping with solvents, heat, sanding, wire brushing, or water and abrasive blasting,
  • prepare surfaces for covering by cleaning, filling nail holes and cracks, and sanding rough spots,
  • apply an undercoat primer or sealer before painting, or apply sizing before wallpapering,
  • match specified colours by using premixed paints, or mixing colour and thinning and drying additives,
  • use brushes, rollers or spray guns to apply liquid coatings such as paint, stain or varnish to surfaces of wood, metal, brick, concrete, plaster, stucco or stone,
  • abrasive blast and apply industrial coatings,
  • apply finishes that are sponged, ragged and layered,
  • apply paper, vinyl or natural and synthetic fabric wallcoverings, and
  • must be aware of product changes.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Painters and decorators arrange their work so they will be outdoors in late spring, summer and early fall, and indoors in the late fall and winter. Painters and decorators may find themselves working at residential, commercial or industrial work sites.

Painters and decorators often work from ladders, scaffolds or swingstages. They may also work with a variety of paints, thinners, stains and high perforamce industrial coatings.


Skills and Abilities

People who enjoy working in this trade tend to prefer work that involves variety, creativity, and recognition for their special skills.

To be successful in this trade, painters and decorators need:

  • good colour sense,
  • manual dexterity,
  • to use proper lifting techniques,
  • to work at heights,
  • to move heavy ladders and industrial equipment at the work site, and
  • a desire to do a precise and thorough job.


Employment and Advancement

Painters and decorators are employed by contractors involved in new construction, repair, alteration or remodelling work, or by organizations that own or manage large buildings such as apartment complexes or schools. Many painters and decorators are self-employed. Although there is indoor painting to do in the winter, the work is seasonal to some extent. Employment prospects are also affected by economic conditions, particularly conditions in the construction industry.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $21 to $42 an hour plus benefits.

Experienced painters and decorators may advance to supervisory positions with painting and decorating contractors, or set up their own small businesses.


Working in Alberta

To work as a Painter and Decorator in Alberta, a person must:

  • be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
  • work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
  • be self-employed.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a painter and decorator is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1300 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Painter and Decorator trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a Painter and Decorator in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice painter and decorators earn at least 55 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75 percent in the second, and 85 percent in the third year.
  • complete the required technical training each year
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required exams.
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training. 

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A painter who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a (recognized credential) or (work experience), in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.



Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta Equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.