How To Become a House Painter

May 3, 2022 · 6 minutes to read

House painter painting house exterior with paint brush

So, you are thinking about becoming a painting contractor for houses but you’re not sure where to start. Not to worry, this short guide will explain the requirements needed to become a painter and list out the pros and cons of being a house painter and running a painting business. It will look at what house painters do, how they become one and the career prospects in this in-demand field.

What do house painters do?

While the primary purpose of a house painter is – as its name suggests – to paint houses, this definition can paint a complex occupation with a wide brush. From removing outlet covers and other fixtures, applying putty to cracked walls or surfaces to using primer and other coating materials for surface protection, house painters do a whole lot more than slapping on a coat of paint.

Even just before painting, house painters must pick out the correct type of paint for the job and ensure all protective tape and coverings are in place. How a painter approaches a job also depends on where the surface is in the house. If it’s on the outside or has direct sunlight the painter may use UV resistant paint. If the job is a bathroom wall perhaps an anti-mold paint will be better suited.

Acquiring the skills needed to become a house painter

The many jobs listed above require a specific skillset that needs to be learned in a controlled environment and practiced time and again. Many licensed house painters begin their trade through an apprenticeship. Applicants typically must be over 18 years old, pass a background check and must be physically fit enough to do the job.

Apprenticeships, which usually last three to four years, allow the aspiring painter to work underneath a licensed painter contractor. This way, the apprentice can learn their trade in a safe environment, reducing the risk of making a mistake to a client’s property. Most apprentices are also expected to complete a classroom component of their training assessed by experienced painters.

Getting licensed or certified

While most places in the US require some form of painting license or certification, it can vary between state, city and even at the local level.

For example, any contractor in California, including house painting contractors, must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) for jobs that cost more than $500. They also are required to have more than four years of experience.

However, painters in states such as New Hampshire and Oklahoma are not required to hold a license. Many other states such as Pennsylvania, Oregon and Georgia also have business insurance requirements that need to be met before being permitted to paint a house.

While this seems confusing, check your local guidelines to ensure you stay on the right side of the law when getting a painting license.

Career Prospects

The good thing about being a house painter is that your career is in constant demand. Where there are people there are houses, and recently built homes require painting inside and out. It is generally recommended to paint the exterior of existing homes every five to ten years depending on the surface, quality of the paint and its wear and tear. Many other homeowners frequently paint the inside of their homes to freshen it up and provide a new aesthetic.

The painting industry is expected to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028 and produce more than 22,000 jobs across the US, according to Zippia, so you can rest assured that your job is not going to be phased out any time soon. While hourly rates vary by experience and location, house painters generally get compensated between $10 -$15 per hour. To find local rates, visit Payscale.com.

Pros and cons of running a house painting business

Your career trajectory also depends on whether you work for a business or for yourself. Many house painters choose to go out on their own and start a small painting business. Below is the pros and cons of that decision, which could help you decide what is the right path for you.


1. Bigger investment

Running a small painting business is a huge step to take and it requires a fair amount of investment both physically and financially. It is recommended that you have the necessary technical skills and have a solid business plan before trying to make it on your own.

2. You are liable if something goes wrong

One of the major differences you may find when running a small business is that it’s on you when something goes wrong. From damaging a client’s furniture to spilling paint across the bare floor, there are many risks associated with running a small painting business.

If a client demands compensation for these damages to their property even if it was an accident, you and your business can be held liable.

A claim against you can be financially devastating. This is especially so if you are a sole proprietor as the line between professional and personal liability gets blurred.

Thankfully, there is painter’s insurance available that can help protect your hard-earned money and reputation. Comparing painters’ insurance is easy with BizInsure. Just jump online and get covered in minutes.


1. It’s more rewarding

Generally, you will get the same paycheck no matter how much effort you put into working for someone else’s business. On the other hand, you get what you put in when running your own. Your effort and passion are directly rewarded, and you see all the benefits first-hand. Watching everything build over time, whether it be your client-base or paycheck, is often more meaningful and can give you greater job satisfaction compared to larger, more traditional companies.

2. Control and independence

Running a small business means understanding every facet of its operations. From concept and design to marketing techniques and sales tactics, you can immerse yourself in your business and have total control over the vision you want to achieve.

Your decision will also allow you to achieve independence by being your own boss. You choose your paycheck at the end of the day and when to take holidays. You can decide to take further training or to take on an employee.

For many, the independence and freedom associated with running a small painting business far outweigh the risks associated with it.

This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your contractor license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.

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