Jumpstart Your Career in the Paint Industry: 8 Skills You Must Have

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A paint job — regardless if it’s an excellent one or a bad one — is sure to make a huge difference in the way a property looks and feels.

As a painter, you need to establish yourself as an expert in the paint industry, especially if you choose to work with a company. You need to gain the proper knowledge and develop the necessary skills to stand out from the pool of painters and decorators.

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So if you are applying for a job in a paint company, here are eight important skills you must possess to jumpstart your career. You can also use this skill list to come up with keywords for your cover letter and resume, as well as to prepare for your job interview.

1. Communication skills

Having a better understanding of what your client needs is the key to properly serving their requests. However, some people find it hard to explain what they really want, so being able to draw out more precise instructions and using your judgment to fill in the necessary details are crucial.

Take note that excellent communication means listening and respecting your client’s ideas and requests, not insisting on what you believe they must want. You can ask questions to gain a clearer picture of what they want and make some suggestions about the methods and materials, but the property owner must always have the final say.

And when a particular project is not compatible with your skills, you must be honest enough to inform your client about it. Moreover, you need to refer them to a painter who can help them, along with a carpenter, mason, or plasterer.

2. Expertise with using the required painting tools

Painters use several tools to yield different effects, and you should know exactly which ones are required for a specific job. Most importantly, you need to know how to use them well and efficiently.

Your choice of the tool varies between exterior and interior painting. Specific textures or styles and special treatments may also require a different set of materials and equipment.

Generally, here are some of the essential tools you should master using:

  • Pressure washer – The surface preparation is the most crucial step of a painting job. Prepping the substrate, whether it is the floor or wall, for the paint is the key to the correct application. The surface must be free of dust and dirt, grease, oil, and chipping paint. Failure to remove these items can result in improper paint adherence that will eventually cause the paint to chip or ripple. A pressure washer or blaster is the perfect tool for getting all the unwanted mess off.
  • Scrapes and sandpaper – The preparation stage won’t be complete without scraping or sanding. The entire surface may be sanded down for the decorative paint to adhere to, or some portions might only require a light sanding. The key is to know the type of material you intend to use, and if full or partial sanding is required to ensure the success of the paint job.
  • Brushes and rollers – The correct brushes and rollers will make the paint look nicer and more uniform. It will also promote a steady and quick pace for doing the required work. You would want to finish the job in the least possible amount of time without compromising its quality. Choosing the right brushes and rollers is the key to achieving that.

3. Familiarity with painting materials

Paints vary not only by color but also in terms of other factors like viscosity, luster, texture, and drying time. Moreover, there are primers, sealers, finishes, and varnishes, which also vary extensively. Being familiar with how each material affects the others can prevent the application of an erroneous combination on the wrong surface.

When it comes to primers, most painting jobs will require one that can inhibit rust and corrosion. Maintenance and construction applications, for instance, often involve a rust-inhibiting primer. These could be for new construction, piping, machining, or aluminum buildings.

As for choosing the right paint, an interior application has a different need from an exterior application. Other important considerations are the amount of moisture, heat or sun, and harsh chemicals the surface is exposed to.

4. Manual dexterity, strength, and balance

For you to achieve a clean, superb coat, having excellent manual dexterity is a must. But you must also have the ergonomic skills and strength to move equipment and other heavy items efficiently and safely, along with a sense of balance so you won’t fall off ladders and incur unnecessary injuries.

5. Attention to details

What differentiates an excellent paint job from a mediocre one is the details, such as clean edges, well-adhered layers, and even coats. A minor error may seem like a petty problem, but it can significantly ruin the look and feel of the entire building.

6. Aesthetic sense

Some clients may require you to make some judgment calls in your line of work and even ask for pieces of advice. So having a sense of what looks great in any setting is a skill you need to develop. Think of the site as a plain canvas that should complement its surroundings.

7. Time management

As a painter, you may often work alone or out of the view of your boss or supervisor. You should work efficiently without direct oversight and provide an accurate estimate of how long it will take for the job to be done.

8. Good estimation

If you are a newbie in the paint industry, estimating the cost of painting jobs may be tricky. You would not want to bid too high that you don’t get the project or price too low that you won’t make any profit.

A good estimator implements the following steps to make an attractive and profitable estimate:

Step 1: Site visit

Competent painters visit the site first before providing an estimate to their clients. The surface to be painted might require additional tasks that can add up to the price.

The space should also be measured as this will dictate the kind of tools and amount of materials to be used.

Step 2: Estimate the overall costs of the job

Visit several paint suppliers and don’t hesitate to ask if they can give discounts for bulk orders. It will take time before you can easily get a big break on paint costs. The key is to build a good relationship with reputable suppliers.

Apart from paints, you also need to consider the cost of other materials required for the job, labor, and marketing.

Step 3: Apply a markup

Once you know the total overhead costs of the job, it is time to decide on your markup. Start adding at least 20-30 percent markup on all painting jobs to ensure a steady profit.

Step 4: Do the final computation

Calculate the final project estimate by adding the costs of paint, materials, labor, marketing, and markup. You may round up the total fee to create room for unforeseen expenses.

Final Words

A painting job has several ins and outs. And while qualifications may vary depending on the job position you want to apply for, developing these skills is a great start to landing a job in the paint industry. A career coach can also offer helpful insights. But most importantly, take time to review the job description to know exactly what skills to include in your resume and discuss during the interview.

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