Aircraft Painter Jobs: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become an aircraft painter. Learn about education requirements, median salary and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

What is an Aircraft Painter?

Aircraft painters apply coats of paint, epoxy and other materials, along with performing other tasks needed to ensure that a plane is properly painted. They set up the equipment used to paint aircraft components, which includes filling it with the proper paint or coating and adjusting setting such as the flow of paint or coating. They also prepare materials for painting or coating, which includes cleaning surfaces. After a job they clean up their equipment and conduct maintenance so that it will be ready for the next job. Below is a table listing the degree requirements, training requirements, key responsibilities, job growth, and salary.

Degree Requirements High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training or training from a community or technical college
Key Responsibilities Applying paints, epoxy and other materials to specific parts of aircraft, prepping surfaces for paint, using stencils and color matching paint
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% (for all transportation equipment painters)
Median Salary (2018)* $42,280 (for all transportation equipment painters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties as an Aircraft Painter?

Your job duties include using paint, epoxy resin and other materials to paint aircraft surfaces. You may use spray guns, rollers and brushes to apply paint. You block off areas that aren't to be painted, and you may use special techniques to keep paint on the correct surfaces. Other job duties may include using sandpaper to prepare surfaces to be painted, making repairs to smooth surface areas and using stencils to create letters, numbers or other designs.

You must have an eye for detail, and some painting jobs may involve delicate detail painting or require you to paint in tight spots where you must avoid getting paint on other parts. You may have to touch up paint, match colors and make repairs to old paint jobs.

What Training or Education Do I Need?

According to job ads posted on in March 2011, employers may require a high school diploma and experience in corrosion control, painting and surface preparation. You may need to pass a physical examination, meet vision requirements and demonstrate knowledge of the tools used in aircraft painting. Some employers may only require a high school diploma and offer on-the-job training. Other requirements may be based on your employer and include passing a background check in order to gain security clearance for work on military aircraft.

You may consider formal training in a program at a community or technical college. Programs may include aeronautics maintenance technology or transportation technology. In these programs, you may study topics including general maintenance, aircraft, painting techniques and preparation methods. Most programs offer hands-on training that allows you to gain experience working with tools and applying techniques that you have learned.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aircraft painters and other transportation equipment painters earned a mean salary of $46,460, as of May 2018 ( The BLS reported the lowest-paid ten percent earned less than $27,320 and the highest-paid ten percent earned more than $70,840.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Automotive body and glass repairers are paid to fix the outer bodies of automobiles which may include painting body parts. Painters who work in the construction industry paint buildings, bridges, and other structures. Metal and plastic machine workers operate equipment that cut and shape plastic and metal pieces. Employees in all of these careers may have only a high-school diploma or an equivalent.