How to Become a Licensed House Painter

Many may not be aware that house painting is an extremely in-demand service with the potential to make painters a lot of money every year. The main qualities one must possess to become a house painter are physical strength and great stamina. All applicants must be at least 18 years old and pass a background check- The rest can be learned through training, apprenticeships and experience. 

To become a licensed house painter, the requirements vary from state to state as they need to satisfy local, state and federal requirements accordingly. Although house painters require minimal education to begin work— a lot of house painters learn on the job as painter's helpers or through apprenticeship programs— receiving training in house painting greatly advance their careers. Professional licensing and certification will significantly open doors to more painting opportunities, and at higher wages.

As we mentioned, requirements to become a licensed house painter varies from state-to-state. Some state regulations require nothing more than a business license— which just includes filling out a lot of paperwork— while others require passing an exam along with having a certain number of hours of experience under your belt. Some states are more stringent and can demand anything from a few months to even two years’ experience.

One can easily enroll in a trade school or a vocational school to receive training and experience since most training is hands-on in any case. There are plenty of maintenance and construction courses available and a lot of major painting companies offer various courses for painters. 

Some opt to train directly under professional via apprenticeship programs. The great thing about apprenticeship programs is that they often include pay, in addition to the added benefit of getting one-on-one training.

But why is so much training needed?

Isn’t it enough to just be strong, with decent stamina, and know how to apply a coat of paint? Wrong. There is a lot more to even a basic painting job than that— which is why training is crucial!

These are just some of the things that you will learn are essential to being a professional house painter:

  • Let’s begin with the obvious—the paints. Paints, stains, textures and more are needed in order to achieve the desired results, heavily depending on the surfaces that need work
  • Primers and other materials are needed as a protective coating to walls and ceilings.
  • Old paint needs to be removed via scraping and sanding.
  • Painters fix and fill in cracks with putty or plaster before applying paint.
  • Painters are not only responsible for extensive prep work, but also the proper cleanup of the space.

You get the idea! That’s why licenses and certifications are so important— they are proof that you have the technical skills to see the job through. You can become a licensed house painter or contractor through an apprenticeship.

If you’re 18, have the stamina and are able to pass a background check, you can enroll in any number of technical schools that offer apprenticeship programs sponsored by contractor organizations and trade unions. Most apprentices in these programs complete more than 100 hours of classroom training each year and work full time assisting experienced painters. Emphasis on the word work as they usually get paid to do so and typically, a paid apprenticeship program can take three to four years as on-the-job training is the most important aspect of the trade.

So what do you typically learn in order to become a licensed house painter?

  • Painting safety
  • Types of coatings and what could go wrong if you don’t use the right materials
  • Coating different surfaces
  • Corrosion control
  • Surface preparation and coatings application

Some courses examples:

SSPC’s online Fundamentals of Protective Coatings is available in English and Spanish, and it allows students to complete the work over a 16-week period. They also offer the Protective Coatings Specialist certification for advanced painters which teaches coatings applications and surface preparation, and it also covers managerial topics. The Protective Coatings Specialist course takes about four hours to complete and offers a four-year certification.

State-to-state requirement examples:

State requirements for a painting license vary widely. Some states have written licensing exams and may require painters to be bonded. Some local governments require a business license as well.

In Arizona, a house painter or contractor must have two years of verified work experience. Pay stubs are a good way to prove work experience. 

Texas does not have a licensing requirement but does require painters to carry liability insurance.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires all painters and contractors who paint houses, child care centres and preschool facilities to obtain a lead safety certification if they work in buildings built before 1978. This rule exists because renovation work may expose paint containing lead that is present in many older structures.

House painters can obtain professional certifications through the Society for Protective Coatings or the NACE International Institute. For example, a house painter can be certified as a Protective Coating Specialist if he has sufficient verifiable work experience.