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It’s never too late to make a career change. Commercial painting is a career suited for all walks of life, offers competitive pay, provides valuable training in beneficial skills, and will always be in demand. If you’ve ever wondered how to become a commercial painter, then this article will answer all your questions and more. 

Is being a painter a good career? Yes, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics1, about 32,700 openings for painters, construction, and maintenance are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. Most of the openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as with retirement. 

Is commercial painting right for you? Now is a good time as any to find out. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to become a licensed painter, including the job description, the average commercial painter salary, what qualities are expected, and the benefits the commercial painting industry affords if you partner with the right company.

What Does a Commercial Painter Do?

As the name implies, commercial painters are responsible for painting interiors and exteriors of commercial properties, including extensive surface preparation, industrial spray painting on various surfaces, priming and coating, power washing, and general aesthetic maintenance. All professional commercial painting jobs typically require project planning, timeline coordination, scheduling, surface prep, application, and clean-up.

Commercial painters are typically hired by construction companies, building owners, or building management companies. As a commercial painter, you can expect to paint corporate structures, commercial retail structures, places of worship, HOA holdings, bridges, or other worksites. A professional painter can be independently employed or work with a professional commercial painting company, like PPD Painting.

Commercial Painting Job – Hours & Salary

One interested in a career as a painter can expect to work, on average, 40 hours per week with occasional overtime and weekend work as needed to complete projects. As for salary, commercial painters can earn upwards of $100,000 per year. However, in the U.S., the majority of professional commercial painters’ annual salaries fall in the range of $51,000 – $75,000.

How to Become a Commercial Painter?

When researching how to become a construction painter or licensed commercial painter, you will see more weight placed on experience than education, as it’s a skill that grows and improves with time and practice. 

To qualify for a career in commercial painting, you will need to be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license. Other than that, professional commercial painters typically train under veteran painters to gain experience and build skills. 

Education Requirements

Many commercial painting employers will require a high school diploma or equivalent degree as a minimum educational requirement. Other than various paint application skills, commercial painters should also know how to tape, float, and finish drywall and apply floor coatings professionally.

Industrial and commercial painters can also learn the trade and receive training through apprenticeships, which allow painters to learn from experienced professionals while earning a wage. These apprenticeships will typically last between three and four years.

Certification & Licensing

You do not need a degree, nor do you need to complete a specialized training program to become a commercial painter. However, some states may require painters to obtain licenses and/or register as contractors. Also, if you decide to become a self-employed painter, then it’s wise to get insurance to protect you from liability should anything go wrong.  

Work Experience

For the most part, commercial painting employers prefer a minimum of 2 years of industrial/commercial painting experience to qualify. Also, since the work can be physically demanding, commercial painters should be able to bend and squat easily, lift and maneuver weights of up to 50 pounds, and safely navigate ladders and scaffolding.

Interested in a Painting Career?

What Qualities Do You Need to Be a Good Commercial Painter?

Physically speaking, there are a few requirements for commercial painters, including strength and balance. However, many companies seek candidates with intangible traits related to professionalism. In fact, we wrote a previous blog on the topic, titled Top 12 Qualities Every Commercial Painter Should Have. We’ve reiterated the importance of each quality and added a few more that commercial painting employers often seek in candidates.  

Manual Dexterity

Manual dexterity involves a person’s ability to execute controlled movements using hand-eye coordination under specific conditions. A career as a painter involves quite a bit of moving around throughout the day. From bending and kneeling to reaching and lifting, commercial painting involves manual labor that requires strength and coordination.


As mentioned earlier, communication is essential to a smooth process on every project. This includes clear communication with contract laborers and other painting team members and constant communication with clients throughout each job.

Openness to Feedback

Feedback is common with professional services like painting, and it’s important to be receptive to hearing opinions and feedback when shared. Whether this is feedback from a client, a co-worker, or your superior, feedback is important to the communication process and should be viewed as constructive. 


Scheduling is a huge part of any commercial painting project, which makes reliability critical to performance. Everyone relies on one another to move forward on each commercial painting project, so when a team member is unreliable (late to work, not showing up, etc.), it affects everybody else’s job performance. Therefore, reliability is an important trait for commercial painters.


Even the best-laid plans can crumble when the unexpected or unavoidable happens. For this reason, a commercial painter needs to exercise patience in all situations. Practicing patience allows for clearer thinking and positive outcomes, as well as better working relationships. 


Punctuality, like reliability, is critical to keeping projects running seamlessly. A project should start and end on time. Any delays, foreseen or unforeseen, should be clearly communicated with everyone involved, including anything that will hinder your punctuality. Punctuality is a sign of respect, demonstrates reliability, and benefits positive working relationships.


Merriam-Webster defines diligence as steady, earnest, and energetic effort or devoted and painstaking work and application to accomplish an undertaking. Commercial painting requires complete diligence to ensure the work is completed professionally, cleanly, and on schedule.


Trustworthiness is the ability to be relied on as honest or truthful, making it valuable in any career. Trustworthiness is more of a behavioral quality than anything else, and it’s critical to establishing and upholding a positive reputation in the industry. 


Being capable of doing many things competently shows versatility. Commercial painters must move seamlessly between tasks on any given job, and being versatile can help keep the timeline intact throughout a project. Plus, a versatile commercial painter can consistently provide expert guidance on the colors, materials, techniques, and processes to support the best possible outcome, even if it veers from an original plan.

Attention to Detail

Detail is everything in painting. From assessing labor and materials for a project to ensuring perfection throughout the paint application, great attention to detail is necessary for building a successful painter career. 

Willingness to Learn

Continuing education is just as important in commercial painting as in any other industry. From new technology to new techniques, there is always something new to learn or adapt in the commercial painting profession. A willingness to learn and adapt along the way will not only improve your work and efficiency but also strengthen your skills and versatility.

Benefits of Working at PPD Painting

PPD Painting is an award-winning service company providing professional commercial painting to companies and individuals in Chicago and Cincinnati areas. For over 15 years, our team of service professionals has been altering the perception of the commercial paint contracting world by providing every client with complete confidence and minimal disruption from beginning to end. 

We are one of the country’s leading commercial painting companies dedicated to creating opportunities for professional growth. We value commitment and reward it with unparalleled a highly supportive work environment and generous employee benefits, such as:

  • IRA Plan
  • Steady Hours
  • In House Training
  • Team Building Activities 
  • Health Insurance Benefits
  • Performance Based Bonuses
  • Up to 7 weeks of Paid Time Off – an incentive-based bonus plan available to all regular hourly employees in the Chicago and Cincinnati offices.

Commercial Painting Industry Forecast

If you are wondering how to become a certified painter, then it’s a good time to review the industry as a whole and the direction it’s heading over the next few years. Is it a fast-growing industry? Will demand for professional painters continue as technology advances in application techniques? All great questions, and here is what our industry insight and research indicate.

Demand for commercial painting services typically depends on the overall health of the economy and the condition of buildings in your service area. As buildings age, they require more maintenance and repair work to stay competitive with newer buildings, which includes fresh coats of paint inside and out. 

Also, more and more companies are pushing for returns to the office vs. continuing to allow working from home as COVID restrictions continue to ease. Therefore, many building owners and landlords are investing in a space refresh, which almost always includes new paint.

Hopefully, you learned everything you need to know about how to become a painter, including what skills and qualities are most important. If you are living in the Cincinnati or Chicago areas and looking for a highly reputable commercial painting company to work with, then head over to the PPD Painting Careers Page and get in touch today.

Elevate Your Painting Career with PPD Painting


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