How to Become a Painter's Helper

With the often steady job availability, varied work environment and flexibility of painting work, more than a few enterprising people might be considering involvement in painting operations to learn the trade and make money for improving their futures. Painting is something that, although considered a less-skilled trade alongside plumbing, electrical work and other contracting, does take some skill. Those who are interested in figuring out how to become a painter's helper can achieve their goals with some basic strategies for finding entry-level painting work.


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    Figure out what kind of painting you want to specialize in. Different kinds of painters hire helpers for various job roles, and one kind of painting is not really like another. Choose a focus and prepare for entering that part of an industry.
    • Consider conventional residential painting. Exterior and interior residential painting, or similar commercial work, employs many thousands of painters. Homes and other properties are constantly requiring fresh coats of paint, and many experienced crews are looking for hard-working, bright helpers.
    • Evaluate specialty painting roles. Auto painting is also a huge industry, and even shipyards have their own painting crews for the hulls of ships and other maritime jobs.
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    Network with connections. Before seeking out more formal painting jobs, talk to family and friends, or anyone else who may have a connection to a painting outfit. Many beginning painters make their initial entry through contacts like these.
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    Seek out specialized sources. Look for point people who will direct you toward professionals who are doing the kinds of painting in which you want to apprentice.
    • For residential painting, checking in with some landlords or property managers could yield results. For shipyards, a foreman or general yard manager might be able to point a painter's helper in the right direction.
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    Understand the specifics of your job role. Before entering into a painter's helper role, consider the tools and methods that you will be using to implement specific kinds of painting, whether it's detailed body work for vehicles or brush-and-roller methods for walls and ceilings.
    • Get acquainted with the tools of the trade. Different kinds of painting use various types of paint, tape, applicators, etc. For auto or vehicle painting, you'll probably want to get familiar with spray painting, which is done more in these specialized trades than in residential painting.
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    Build up your skills. If possible, practice with applicable tools before the job starts. That way, you won't be totally "green" on the first day of a painting project.
    • Pick up business and estimating skills. When you start out as a painter's helper, it's never too soon to start to understand how the leaders of a crew or business bid on jobs. These ideas can help you get equitable pay as a helper, but they can also come in handy when you are going out on your own, or estimating for a crew on a painting project.

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