National Salary Averages for Painters

by Aurelio Locsin

Painters beautify and protect exterior and interior surfaces by applying paint, stain and other protective coatings. They use power tools, such as sprayers, or manual equipment, such as brushes and rollers. More than half were self-employed in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their national salary averages vary by employers and job location.


The BLS reports that the national average salary for painters in the construction and maintenance fields was $38,590 per year as of May 2012, according to the BLS. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,980 yearly, while the highest-paid 10 percent received above $60,240. This equaled an hourly range of below $11.05 to more than $28.96.

Regional Comparisons

California has both the mild weather and the high population to provide more job opportunities for painters. It boasted 24,970 positions as of May 2012, more than any other state. The average pay in California was $44,120 per year or $21.21 per hour, according to the BLS. Painters in Illinois had the highest average incomes among the states at $50,830 per year or $24.44 per hour. As for metropolitan areas, New York City had the most jobs, with 7,500 workers earning a mean $48,470 yearly or $23.30 hourly. The city with the highest pay was Kankakee, Illinois, at an average of $74,650 per year or $35.89 per hour.

Contributing Factors

Incomes for painters also vary by the type of employer. According to the BLS, more than two-thirds of the nation's 184,330 painters worked for building finishing contractors and averaged $37,460 per year or $18.01 per hour. Residential building construction, which ranked second in the number of jobs, paid an average of $36,280 yearly or $17.44 hourly. Local governments paid an average of $48,900 a year or $23.51 an hour. The highest-paying employers were the motion picture and video industries at a mean $67,050 per year or $32.24 per hour. Ranking second was electric power generation, transmission and distribution, averaging an annual $62,100 yearly or $29.86 hourly.

Job Outlook

The number of jobs for painters is expected to increase by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. That's above the14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations, but below the 23 percent projected for construction workers as a whole. Because paint has a limited lifespan and color trends change constantly, demand for painters will continue. However, the desire of many homeowners to apply coatings themselves depresses job opportunities. Demand reflects the fluctuations of the economy. When times are good, construction activity increases and so does employment for the profession.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

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