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How To Become A Licensed House Painter

The main qualities one must possess to become a house painter are physical strength and great stamina. It is a great plus if you have a keen sense of design, colors, patterning, and the dedication to put in the work.

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. It is a great plus if you have a keen sense of design, colors, patterning, and the dedication to put in the work. Being a painter also isn’t limited to just splashing some color onto walls; it can include patching up the walls, fixing up, and taping off parts of the house that need it. A painter's job is one of the most important in the construction business because no home looks complete without the most fitting paint job. 

Although house painters require minimal education to begin work a lot of house painters learn on the job. Receiving training in house painting greatly advances your career, either as painter's assistant or through apprenticeship programs. One can easily enroll in a trade school or a vocational school to receive training, and these programs are usually offered by contractor organizations or trade unions. Most training in the field of painting offers hands-on exposure, giving the trainee adequate practical experience. 

 There are plenty of maintenance and construction courses available and a lot of major painting companies offer various courses for painters. This makes sense, since painting itself is a very core component of the construction business. But completing your training to become a painter is just the start. To be able to set up and run your business, you will need to get into the nitty-gritty of acquiring a painter's license. A painting license needs to be obtained from the state you choose to work in, whether it is to start your own painting business, or even work as a sub/contractor. Professional licensing and certification will significantly open doors to more painting opportunities, and at higher wages. 

The requirements to become a licensed house painter varies from state to state. This difference in requirements is largely due to the different standards set by the local, state, and federal governing bodies. Depending on the state you receive your license from, you have to meet the individual demands of the state, local, or both bodies. 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. Some states only require a license when the project exceeds a certain estimation, while some depend on the type of work you take on. Certain states don’t require you to have a license at all! It’s a little tricky to figure out what is applicable where.   

Certain fundamental rules that apply across all states are the age of applicants, (i.e. 18 years of age) and that one must pass a background check to ensure you are eligible to work in the state. These background checks tend to look for criminal record, citizenship, and the ability to work which includes work visas and so on. 

The skills you require to be a painter can be learned through training, apprenticeships, and experience. As we mentioned, some opt to train directly under professionals 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? Well, 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 that are essential to being a professional house painter:

  • Let’s begin with the obvious—the paints. There are various aspects that you need to know within the blanket term “Paint”. These range from types of paints (acrylic, water-based, latex, and so on) to stains and textures that are needed to achieve the desired results. The type of paint we pick is also heavily dependent on the surfaces that need work, and what your end result is supposed to look like. 

  • Primers and other materials are needed as a protective coating for walls and ceilings. As a house painter, you need to know how to apply the primer, the kind and number of coats required, how long the primer needs to dry, which room requires what type of primer, and so on. While the basics of priming remain the same, the type, technique, and purpose of the primer vary.  

  • Old paint needs to be removed via scraping and sanding. You need to know what kind of surface the old paint is on. Sometimes, old cracked wood needs a coat of paint stripped, before you scrap, while some types of wood would benefit from sanding and staining directly. It depends on the surface, and the look you’re trying to achieve, as well as the existing quality of the paint because old paint could mean anything from 5 years ago to 50. 

  • Painters fix and fill in cracks with putty or plaster before applying paint. As we said, painting isn’t just applying a coat of paint. Painters must pour over every surface, nook, and cranny to ensure that the surface you’re going to paint is the desired texture and is uniform throughout. This would often mean you fill in cracks, replace old and creaking wood, or maybe just sand down chipping platers. The entire random assortment of tasks falls under a painter’s skillset. 

  • Painters are not only responsible for extensive prep work, but also for the proper cleanup of the space. This might be the easiest part of the paint job really, to just clean stuff up. But you’ll learn on the job that there are a few hacks to make the whole process easier.  

Well, 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. These licenses also help when you’re looking for jobs since having a license serves as proof that you are certified and have the necessary skills to carry out a job to fulfillment. 

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.

Over at Hoist, we offer a comprehensive training program with everything you need to get licenses. Keep reading to know more about Hoist’s training program and what we offer. 

So what do you typically learn at a painters apprenticeship/trainee program, in order to become a licensed house painter?

  • Painting safety, which covers working with various materials, working from heights, etc.
  • Types of coatings and what could go wrong if you don’t use the right materials 
  • Corrosion control and how to ensure your paint job lasts 
  • Surface preparation and coatings application
  • Removal of paint 
  • Erecting scaffolding 
  • Application of paint, like the coating of different surfaces (concrete, wood, plaster) and the use of various mediums (paint brushes, rollers, spray paints, etc)
  • Hanging wallpapers 
  • Creating color schemes 

And so much more. Each program is built to cater to specific needs. It doesn’t hurt to take more than one course if you have the time. Or find one comprehensive course. It depends entirely on your availability, time constraints, and ability. 

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.

There’s also the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RPR), a necessary certification for all painting contractors which certifies them to work with lead-based paints. This program trains all future contractors about appropriate safety procedures, and the risks of working with hazardous material that can often be found at construction sites. 

The National Painting and Decorating Institute has also developed a Pro Painters Course, which helps contractors to improve their staff's basic training, as well as improve the overall business skills of the contractor themselves. This course has over 390 video tutorials.  

Benefits of having a license 

There are obviously a few benefits to having a license. Like we said, having a license increases your chances of getting hired, and helps you secure better pay. It works as proof to show that you are a competent worker and that your clients can trust your work. We have also listed some other benefits of having a license: 

  • Insurance: 

Whether you choose to be a self-employed professional or someone with a full-fledged painting business, it's important to get the right insurance to protect yourself from accidents at work. Most state licenses require insurance, so you need to be proactive before working as a licensed painter. It is easier to obtain insurance for work when it’s for a specific license like that of a painter's license. 

  • Market yourself the right way: 

Clients and contractors may be willing to hire you if you know you have a state painting license. This is because the license ensures that you, as a painter, have done your due diligence, trained, and passed an exam to get your certification. 

  • Allows you to start your own business: 

While some states only require registration, certain others mandate getting a painting license before you can run your own painting business.

State-to-state requirement:

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, while some need a residential endorsement. Occasionally, depending on the state, application for a license will require a minimum number of years of experience (ranging from 2 to 4 years) 

Here are some states that make a painter’s license mandatory:

Alabama, Arkansaw (for jobs that pay over $2000), California (jobs that pay over $500), Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa (If you earn over $2000 annually), Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia, Washington, Vermont, New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, North Dakota (jobs that pay over $4000), Rhode Island and South Carolina 

States like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexia, Ohio, and Oregon require painters to pass an exam to obtain their license. However, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania don’t require painters to have a license before operating a business in that state.

The Environmental Protection Agency requires all painters and contractors who paint homes, daycare, and kindergarten facilities to obtain lead safety certification when working in buildings built before 1978. This rule exists because refurbishment work can expose the lead-based paints found in many older structures. Painters can obtain professional qualifications through the Protective Coatings Association or the NACE International Institute. For example, a house painter can be certified as a protective coating specialist if he has sufficient proven work experience.

With all these regulations to follow and licenses to obtain, we understand how this whole process can seem overwhelming. From the paperwork to the research, there are a lot of things to consider! That’s where partnering up with platforms such as Hoist can help. 

What can Hoist do for your painting business?

Hoist’s main mission is to help painters start, run and grow their own businesses! From sourcing subcontractors to building your website, we have covered everything you can think of! We can even help you register your business and get all the paperwork out of the way.

We offer painters a training program before they even start their business. The virtual training courses offered by us are designed by industry experts and cover a wide range of skills required as a  painting contractor. Our training course neither has a deadline by which you need to finish it nor is it long and drawn out – you can complete the course at your own pace. Our curriculum not only covers the skills you need as a painter but also gives you in-depth information on domain knowledge, estimation, pricing, and other relevant details that are pertinent to running your business.

Hoist can also help you with brand creation, provide you with marketing material, and ensure that you get guaranteed leads for your business. We offer a unique schedule management tool that helps you stay on top of your schedule, along with a customer management tool that stores all your customer’s data in one place. And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg!

So go ahead, take a deep dive into our feature-rich platform, and get in touch with our experts to kickstart your painting business.

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