How to Become a Painting Contractor

Painting buildings can be a lucrative and enjoyable business and successful contractors must be experienced, shrewd business people. Painting contractors must learn to estimate, bid on jobs, hire employees and run a business, as well as paint. In most states, anyone who is hired for construction, repair or restoration of a building will need to be licensed and carry liability insurance. Contact your state licensing board, and then begin the tasks of applying for certification and filing business documents. Find out how to become a painting contractor.


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    Complete your high school diploma or equivalency. While this is not strictly necessary in all locales, it will be helpful if you choose to get further training. Successful painting contractors need to have math, business and customer services skills, so you can opt to take extra math, finance and English classes during high school.
    • If you plan to work in an area that has a number of non-native English speakers, it may be helpful to become bilingual. Take a foreign language that will give you a business advantage later on.
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    Get work experience. Become a painter's apprentice, or simply work for a painting contractor until you believe you know how to work the business and have all the necessary skills and information. Complete Certificate III Painting and Decorating with the National Institute of Painting and Decorating. In many states, you must have certifiable work experience to become licensed, and the functional knowledge of running a painting business will be useful in all locales.
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    Research your state's requirements for painting licensing requirements. Every state is different, so you should request contractor licensing requirements from your state contractor's board as soon as you decide your career path. In the US go to to find references to your state's laws. In Australia and the Pacific, go to to find out how to get licensed in your state or country.
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    Enroll in a construction code class. Consult your contractor licensing information to see what is required. You may be able to read and study the manual on your own to learn this information for your licensing exam.
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    Enroll in the Environmental Protection Agency Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Program. As of 2010, all painting contractors must be certified in working with lead-based paints.
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    Take business and administration classes. If you do not have any history of running your own business or estimating jobs, then it is a good idea to enroll in a community college to prepare yourself for the task. Your state may offer a painting contractors certification program, which would include industry-related administrative training.
    • Many states require that contractors take over 16 hours of business and law classes before sitting for a contractor's exam. Request your transcripts after you take courses, in order to show that you have taken the prerequisites.
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    Sit for your state's contractor certification exam. This exam may include both a written and practical section. You will have between 1 and 4 years after passing the exam to obtain the remaining items needed for licensing.
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    File your business paperwork with the state, county and city authorities. You will need to file documents that state the structure of your business, such as a partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation or sole proprietorship. You will also be required to register your fictitious name, apply for employee identification numbers and local licenses.
    • The person with the contractor's license is often called the Responsible Managing Individual (RMI). You will need to name yourself as the RMI in your application documents. Each contracting business is required to have an RMI. In Australia this is known as the supervisor.
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    Obtain a surety bond for your painting company. The mount required should be on your state contractor's application.
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    Acquire liability insurance. The amount for which you must be insured will also be on your application.
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    Complete your state contractor license application. You may need to undergo a background check and fingerprinting. Submit proof of work experience, training, test scores, surety bond, liability insurance and state business forms.
    • In most states, you will be required to submit a testing fee and an application fee. You will need to renew your contractor's license regularly, in order to remain a licensed painting contractor.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • Business courses
  • Work experience
  • Business/law courses
  • Construction code manual/training
  • Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program
  • Contractor certification exam
  • Surety bond
  • Fees
  • Liability insurance
  • Contractor's application
  • Business filing
  • Employee identification number

Article Info

Categories: Tradesman Occupations