What Does an Automotive Painter Do?

Automotive Painters (410N), sometimes known as Refinishing specialists, are involved in damage appraisal to motor vehicles, surface preparation, minor damage repair, masking, colour matching, priming and mixing paint and top coating.

Canadian Association of Repairs & Service (CARS) Performance Driven - Labour Market Opportunities and Challenges for Motive Power and Service Industries

Job Related Skills, Values and Interests

  • Analyzing, assessing and evaluating the exterior paint condition of various motor vehicles and selecting appropriate corrective action or method of repair
  • Identifying and removing layers of sub-coatings by using abrasives, solvents or chemicals
  • Preparing surfaces using power and manual sanding equipment, and applying masking and sanding techniques
  • Completing minor damage repair prior to masking, applying priming and top coating using spray guns
  • Using an eye for detail and good colour sense to match complex colour formulations created by vehicle manufacturers
  • Applying refinishing products in the correct sequence for proper adhesion and durability
  • Applying or restoring anti-corrosion treatments
  • Using good manual dexterity to apply decals, transfers, stencils and other types of identification to finished paint work on various types of motor vehicles
  • Communicating and interacting effectively with co-workers and customers

You may find additional information about this trade and applicable standards at the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website – Motive Power sector link: http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/membership/resources/training-standards.

What Preparation and Training Do You Need?

To become an Automotive Painter, Grade 12 or the equivalent (GED or ACE) is required under the Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009). It would be beneficial to have credits in Grade 12 Mathematics and English as well as any related shop courses before entering an apprenticeship of 4560 hours of on-the-job training as well as 240 hours in-school. You must successfully complete the required OCoT written examination to be awarded a Certificate of Qualification.

What’s Your Future as an Automotive Painter?

Automotive Painters usually work full-time, indoors, in a shop that can be dusty and dirty, with exposure to exhaust fumes, dust particles and chemicals and solvents. Some Automotive Painters have chosen to specialize in that field after apprenticing as Auto Body Technicians. Most are employed by:

  • Auto Body Repair Shops
  • Automotive and Truck dealerships
  • Custom Shops
  • Trucking companies and Bus lines

Experienced Automotive Painters may advance to supervisory positions, or start their own business. Some may also become automobile damage appraisers for insurance companies.

Wage Rate

  • Apprentices usually start at a wage rate less than that of a journeyperson
  • This rate increases gradually as you gain more skills and expertise 
  • Automotive Painters can earn in a range from $11.00 - $25.00 per hour depending on the geographic area where they live, sometimes with employee benefits and opportunities to work overtime


Ask Yourself: Is Working as an Automotive Painter for You?

Can you stand for long periods, bend, stoop, crouch, reach and kneel?

Yes      No

Do you have a good eye for colour and for spotting differences in how things look?

Yes      No

Are you the kind of person who likes to proceed step by step until the job is done right?

Yes      No

Do you like working with your hands, using a variety of hand and power tools?

Yes      No

Would you work on-call for occasional weekends or evenings?

Yes      No

Do you enjoy working around motor vehicles?

Yes      No

If you answered Yes to most of these questions, a career as an Automotive Painter be for you!

You may also want to explore other jobs that require similar interests and skills, such as:

  • Sheet Metal Worker
  • Aircraft/Avionics technician
  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Motorcycle Mechanic
  • Painter/Decorator


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