Painter and Decorator National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of painter and decorator.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Peintre et décorateur/décoratrice

NOC: 7294

Designation Year: 1964

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Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Painter and Decorator

Use this self-assessment tool (PDF, 802 KB) to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information


“Painter and Decorator” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by painters and decorators whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:
















Painter and Decorator












Painter and Decorator – Commercial and Residential


Painters and decorators apply decorative and protective finishes in residential, commercial, institutional and industrial settings. They prepare a variety of surfaces (wood, masonry, drywall, plaster, concrete, synthetics, stucco and metal) prior to the application of materials such as paint, high performance coatings, waterproofing, fireproofing, varnish, shellac, wall coverings and specialty finishes. These materials are applied for a variety of reasons such as protection, decoration, sanitation, identification and safety.

Painters and decorators are employed by construction companies, painting contractors or building maintenance contractors, or they are self-employed. They work on residential, commercial, institutional and industrial projects. Some painters and decorators may work for years on a single site; others may work for contractors that rarely work on the same site more than once.

Painters and decorators may come in contact with hazardous materials such as isocyanates, free silica, lead, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and at times, carcinogenic materials. They may work with some physical discomfort when preparing surfaces or applying coatings in awkward positions. Painters and decorators may work indoors and outdoors. They also may risk injury from falling off access equipment such as ladders, platforms, scaffolds and swing stages.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are manual dexterity, excellent colour perception and artistic aptitude. The work often requires considerable standing, kneeling and repetitive activities such as brushing, rolling, spraying and blasting. Painters and decorators must have an eye for detail, the ability to plan work, and knowledge of many types of finishes, their properties and their applications. They must be able to calculate areas and relate such calculations to required material. Good communication and customer service skills are required by painters and decorators who often interact with home/business owners, contractors, interior designers, architects and engineers. Experienced painters and decorators may advance to supervisory positions for painting contractors or in other related fields such as construction management, instructing, estimating or building inspection.

Occupational Observations

Manufacturers are continually making changes to their products to make them more environmentally friendly. Organic paints and non‑caustic cleaners that are solvent-free and VOC-free are becoming increasingly popular as their performance continues to improve.

Safety and environmental concerns have also led manufacturers to make substantial changes to equipment used. For example, infrared heat equipment is increasingly being used instead of hazardous chemicals for removing paint and varnish. The infrared technology allows paint or varnish to be scraped off and disposed of easily while preventing the release of harmful gases.

Increased urban development has resulted in many homes and businesses being closer to sources of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation such as telecommunication antennae and other similar sources of radiation. Electromagnet shielding paints are increasingly incorporated in the construction of new buildings or added to existing ones to reduce the exposure of a building’s occupants to these radiations and therefore help mitigate their potential adverse health effects.

Intumescent coatings are increasingly being used on steel columns that must be fire‑proofed by code. These coatings allow architectural design to be maintained while providing benefits such as a significantly reduced total system thickness, durability, aesthetics and good adhesion. They can also be top-coated to match surroundings.

Due to increasingly stringent environmental controls, the move away from oil-based products will continue thereby making it healthier for painters and better for the environment. The constant development of new products and technology requires ongoing learning in order to keep skills up-to-date.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order.

The essential skills profile for the painter and decorator trade indicates that the most important essential skills are oral communication, problem solving, and job task planning and organizing. The NOA workshop participants indicated that working with others is also very important.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills.

Painters and decorators read a variety of safety related documentation such as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to understand the safety and personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements when using a particular material or substance, OH&S Regulations to determine correct and safe procedures to use, and hazard assessments to determine what to do in different hazardous situations. They read product data sheets to determine the proper application and use of particular materials and substances. They also read labels on equipment as well as the instructions for their use. This is important when troubleshooting, or when setting up or using a piece of equipment for the first time to ensure safe and efficient use of the equipment.

Painters and decorators interpret and refer to blueprints to determine the type of paints and coatings to be applied and to which areas. They read assembly drawings and make sketches of items to be built such as containment structures. They refer to tables or charts to determine exposure limits to different chemicals and to select appropriate PPE. They also complete time sheets and record quality control information such as batch numbers, temperatures and drying times for future reference in case problems arise.

Painters and decorators complete work orders, material lists and time sheets. They may write a list of tasks to be performed. They may also sign for materials received.

Painters and decorators estimate mix ratios and measure out quantities of paints, thinners, solvents and coatings. They estimate the amount of time, cost and material required to complete a job. They also estimate and calculate measurements such as square footage, coverage and cubic feet per minute (CFM). They calculate the weight of material that can safely be supported on swing stages and platforms. Painters and decorators also use both the metric and imperial measurement systems and therefore must be able to convert between the two systems.

Painters and decorators talk with co-workers, foremen, and other tradespeople to co-ordinate activities or to clarify procedures. They give directions to apprentices, participate in project meetings and advise customers on selection of colour schemes and choice of wall coverings. Painters and decorators performing work in an industrial setting use hand signals and/or two way radios to communicate with crane operators and other tradespeople.

Painters and decorators use problem solving skills to address issues that may arise on the job such as colour mismatch or defects in finishes, or to troubleshoot problems with equipment. They use decision making skills to decide on the types of materials and application methods to use on a job, and to determine how to approach the job. They plan the materials and equipment they need for a job and schedule tasks to meet the needs of other trades on site.

Painters and decorators usually work as part of a team that may include apprentices, other journeypersons, and supervisors although they may work alone on some specific tasks or jobs. Painters and decorators may perform supervisory functions and guide or monitor the work performance of others, including apprentices or new employees.

Painters and decorators may use the Internet to look up product and safety information. They may use computers for designing graphics, reporting work logs and matching colours.

Painters and decorators learn through on-the-job training and observation of co-workers. They may keep up on their product knowledge by talking with suppliers or reading product/equipment information pamphlets or other literature. They may attend upgrading courses when entering a new area of specialization. Painters and decorators may also attend training sessions provided by manufacturers of new or specialty products and by union training providers.


The CCDA and HRSDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by HRSDC and the CCDA to the following representatives from the trade.

  • Domenic DeSando - Ontario
  • Dustin Friesen - Alberta
  • Gerard Martin - Nova Scotia
  • Christopher Miller - New Brunswick
  • Joe Ott - British Columbia
  • Keith St. Croix - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Albert Turcotte - Manitoba
  • Nathan Warnica - International Union of Painters And Allied Trades
  • Jerry White - Saskatchewan

This analysis was prepared by the Workplace Partnerships Directorate of HRSDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of New Brunswick also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about NOAs may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9