What do Painters, Construction and Maintenance Do

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Work Environment

Painters, construction and maintenance held about 350,800 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of painters, construction and maintenance were as follows:

  • Painting and wall covering contractors - 39%
  • Self-employed workers - 39%
  • Residential building construction - 4%
  • Government - 2%
  • Nonresidential building construction - 2%

Painters work on a variety of structures, including bridges, machinery, and the interiors and exteriors of buildings. Painting requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may work at extreme heights or in uncomfortable positions; some painters are suspended by ropes or cables as they work.

Painters typically work both indoors and outdoors. When working outside or in confined spaces, painters may be exposed to extreme temperatures. 

Painters may need to wear special safety equipment for a job. For example, painters working in confined spaces, such as the inside of a large storage tank, must wear self-contained suits to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Some painters wear additional clothing and protective eyewear when operating abrasive blasters to remove old coatings. When painting bridges, ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs, painters may work from scaffolding or harnesses.

Injuries and Illnesses

Painters risk injury on the job. Common hazards include falls from ladders, muscle strains from lifting, and exposure to drywall dust and other irritants.

Work Schedules

Most painters work full time. Self-employed painters may be able to set their own schedules. Industrial painters may be required to travel for work. Painting jobs that are outdoors may be seasonal.

Job Outlook

Employment of painters, construction and maintenance is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 32,700 openings for painters, construction and maintenance are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020.

The expected increase in new construction will continue to create a need for painters. Investors who sell or lease properties also will require painters’ services. However, many homeowners choose to paint themselves, which will temper employment growth for painters.


The median annual wage for painters, construction and maintenance was $45,590 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,570.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for painters, construction and maintenance in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • Government - $60,570
  • Nonresidential building construction - $48,380
  • Residential building construction - $46,080
  • Painting and wall covering contractors - $44,040

Apprentices make less than fully trained painters, but they receive increases as they learn to do more.

Most painters work full time. Self-employed workers may be able to set their own schedule.

Academic Programs of Interest

Drywall Finisher
A Drywall Finisher Program teaches a student how to prepare, tape, fill and sand all seams, corners and angles. A student will learn how to apply beading, texture, and finish edges. He/She will also be well versed in filling compounds, job estimating, and repairing holes and other damaged portions of the drywall. A Drywall Finisher Program will usually take 3 years to complete. Upon graduation,... more
A Masonry Program will teach a student how to use bricks, concrete blocks, stone, structural tiles and other materials to construct or repair walls, foundations and other structures. Students of the Masonry Program are also taught how to prepare surfaces to be covered and how to properly mix ingredients they'll need. The Masonry Program usually takes 4 years to complete. After graduating from the program,... more
Painter and Decorator
The Painter and Decorator Program is designed to teach a student how to apply paint, wallpaper, fabric and other finishes to interior and exterior surfaces of buildings and other structures. A Painter and Decorator student will also learn how to repair cracks and holes in walls and prepare work surfaces by scraping, sanding, sand-blasting, hydro-blasting and steam-cleaning. A student can usually complete the Painter and... more
Painting is a model for knowledge, a way of knowing the world. That's the core philosophy of most painting program, where uncovering what you want to say carries equal weight with learning how to say it. Students choose whatever materials, processes, forms, and formats that best enable them to express their relationship to the world. All approaches - traditional and non-traditional -- are supported and... more
The Plasterer Program is designed to teach a student how to apply coats of plaster and decorative coverings of other materials to the inside and outside walls and ceilings of buildings to produce finished and/or fireproofed surfaces. The Plasterer Program will generally take a student 4 years to complete. Approx. 12 weeks of the program are designated to in-class study modules. After graduation, the Plasterer... more