Automotive Spray Painter

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: < 5 000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $921 to $1050 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief Henry Ford may have said customers could have any colour car they wanted - as long as it was black. Nowadays we have a multitude of colours thanks to the handy work of automotive spray painters.

There are approximately 700 Automotive Spray Painters working in South Australia. The main age group for this occupation is 35-44 years with the majority employed on a full-time basis. Persons working as automotive spray painters are largely males.

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Whenever an automobile has been in an accident, or the paint has faded on an older vehicle, it is the job of an automotive spray painter to restore the car to its original lustre. They are found working in smash repair and panel beating businesses, motor vehicle retailing or on new automotive production lines.

Education Requirements

Of those currently employed there are 59% who have either a Certificate III or IV and 36% have no post school qualifications.

To become an automotive spray painter you need to complete an apprenticeship. To increase your chances of getting an apprenticeship position, TAFE SA offers a Certificate II in Automotive Underbody Technology.

Short courses are also offered through TAFE SA such as Basic Spray Painting or Clean and Polish Vehicle Exterior Paint. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

For further information on obtaining an apprenticeship or traineeship, please contact the New Apprenticeships Hotline on 1800 639 629. The off- the- job training associated with the apprenticeship is normally conducted at the apprentice's place of employment. Courses are usually conducted for Apprentices but it may be possible to study some courses under the Fee For Service scheme.

Career Path

Most automotive paint sprayers work in panel beating or smash repair businesses; hence demand is based on the number of vehicles needing repair. The number of accidents, seasonal variations and the influence of insurance companies having agreements with preferred repairers all play a part in employment opportunities.

According to the Automotive training council, ''Nowadays there is greater external pressure from insurance companies for the quality of workmanship to be higher. We need to upgrade the skills of existing painters as well as effectively training young people. Other avenues of employment include working as paint manufacturer representatives, managing automotive businesses, owning one's own business or lecturing in painting techniques at a College.

Nature of the Job

Automotive spray painters prepare surfaces of vehicles, match and mix colours, and apply primer and finishing coats of paint. Before the automotive spray painter begins the task of painting, he or she must first prepare the body of the car so that it is a perfect canvas for the colour. They use sanding machines to remove old paint or rust and apply a filling primer (by spray gun) to fill in any scratches or irregularities. The parts of the car that must be protected are masked, such as the windows, mirrors and headlights. Next, the primer is rubbed down using a sanding machine and finished by hand with very fine abrasive paper. The vehicle is then cleaned down and remasked before the top coat is applied by spray gun. The colour is mixed from a formula to match the existing colour. There is a manufacturer's colour code located on the vehicle, but the colour is also eye matched. When sprayed, the vehicle is put in a spray bake oven, which is essentially a giant box with a couple of windows and doors. Drying the top coat usually takes 30 to 50 minutes, after which the car is demasked and the body work rubbed using fine abrasive paper and a hard rubber block. This procedure helps locate any blemishes in the paint work.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Automotive spray painters must enjoy practical and manual work. They need to have good hand-eye coordination and normal colour vision. As they will be exposed to paint and chemicals, they should not have any breathing-related problems or allergies to thinners or paints. Tasks involving spray painting also involve standing or bending for lengthy periods.

Typical Occupational Example

Having a good eye for matching colour is important in this work, although the advent of computer technologies may lessen the need for this skill. With so many variations in products on the market, it is essential that automotive spray painters keep up to date with paint manufacturers' literature and best practice by using the various products. Working closely with paint products could pose a difficulty for people with respiratory problems or skin conditions, even though protective equipment is used such as gloves and air is fed through charcoal respirators. It can also be repetitive work if you treat every job the same, according to Mark. However if pride in great workmanship and a passion for cars is your focus, then go for it!'' This is a great job for the car enthusiast. If you love to see a car restored and you love cars in general, don't be a mechanic. Be a spray painter,'' advises Mark.

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (SA)
Phone: (08) 8366 5800

Auto Skills Australia
Phone: (03) 8610 2500

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online