Many people who purchase a fixer-upper car want custom paint jobs to suit their style and the overall look they are trying to achieve. Custom automotive painters who are able to apply designs such as flames, people, and text are highly sought after. This takes more than just applying a coat of paint to the automobile; it requires artistic and technical ability. These custom automotive painters are paid based on the number of cars that are completed and if they are satisfactory to the client. The client either gives a detailed description of what they are looking for or gives the painter creative license to achieve the desired paint job.
Many of the cars painted today are painted by coating machinery which is operated by machine setters. These workers set the color to be used and the amount to be painted and make adjustments to the machines as necessary to successfully complete the paint job.
Overall the number of automotive painters is expected to decline slightly over the next decade, but this will depend in what sector the automotive painter is in. New-and-improved machinery will limit job opportunities somewhat, but not to the extent that there will not be work for qualified, experienced automotive painters. Custom paint jobs will remain relatively the same over the next decade because many owners of antique cars frequently require their cars to be painted by highly skilled painters.
Also, with the American automotive industry taking a massive hit over the last few years the production of cars has slowed significantly. This eliminates manufacturing jobs, which in turn eliminates the need for automotive painters.
Training and education to become automotive painters depends on how fast one learns and how good their skill levels are. On average, those who do work in the automotive painting field become skilled within a couple years’ time. Those who do custom paint jobs may take longer because there are a variety of type of paint jobs that can be done which require additional training. Custom painters learn from more-experienced professionals. Those who build their skills over time may open their own custom paint shops. Those who have excellent skills are valuable and may charge more for their services because the paint jobs require intricate details that may take long hours to complete. Custom paint jobs are not limited to cars, but are also done on motorcycles.
Automotive painters may also work on semi-trucks, large-operation equipment such as tractors, and other vehicles that are too large to be painted by machinery and require manual painters.
Many automotive painters may learn while on the job, but they should be advised to take some form of formal training classes. Automotive painters usually begin by helping to clean surfaces which are going to be painted; this is just as important as the painting itself. Many surfaces need to be polished and smoothed down before the painting can even begin. Mixing the paint to achieve the desired color is also very important. The correct color must be created before the painting can even begin. These basic tasks are valuable, because knowing the basics in any field is the stepping stone to more responsibilities and success.
Certification is available for those who seek better employment opportunities from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. Certification is recommended because many employers want employees who have an outstanding knowledge of automotive painting with above-average technical skills. With automotive paintings jobs declining slightly, those who have the most training and education will see their employment prospects improve greatly.
The average wages for those who operate painting machinery are around $13 per hour. Advancement opportunities are possible with those automotive painters who show competence and the ability to supervise others. Hours will also depend on the amount of work available at a given time. Many automotive painters work a forty-hour work week, but may work longer hours. Meeting deadlines is also an important part of the automotive painter’s job. The faster the cars are painted the more cars the automotive painter is able to work on which will increase their wages. Many repair and auto body shops work on a commission basis so the more cars done the higher the earnings, which serves as good motivation to be as efficient as possible.