Industrial Coatings Applicators

Career Snapshot

An Industrial Coating Applicator typically sets up, operates, or tends machines to coat or paint any of a wide variety of products, including glassware, cloth, ceramics, metal, plastic, paper, or wood, with lacquer, silver, copper, rubber, varnish, glaze, enamel, oil, or rust-proofing materials.

(Workers in this construction job sub-sector may also have the title of: Coater Operator, Hand Sprayer, Industrial Painter, Machine Operator, Paint Technician, Painter, Powder Coater, Press Operator, Silk Screen Operator, Spray Painter)

Job Details

Industrial Coating Applicators typically have the following responsibilities:

  • Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products
  • Select the paint or coating needed for the job
  • Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated
  • Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating
  • Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas
  • Hold or position spray guns to direct spray onto articles.
  • Fill hoppers, reservoirs, troughs, or pans with material used to coat, paint, or spray, using conveyors or pails
  • Start and stop operation of machines, using levers or buttons
  • Attach hoses or nozzles to machines, using wrenches and pliers, and make adjustments to obtain the proper dispersion of spray
  • Turn dials, handwheels, valves, or switches to regulate conveyor speeds, machine temperature, air pressure and circulation, and the flow or spray of coatings or paints
  • Observe machine gauges and equipment operation to detect defects or deviations from standards, and make adjustments as necessary
  • Perform test runs to ensure that equipment is set up properly

Education and Experience

Most Industrial Coating workers learn on the job after earning a high school diploma or equivalent. Training for new workers usually lasts several months.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: As of May 2019, Industrial Coating workers typically earned an average base salary of approximately $37,000.
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 2%
  • Industrial Coating Applicators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation.

Career Growth Opportunity

In addition to job growth in some industries, many job openings should result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Professional Associations

  • National Association for Corrosion Engineers - The members of NACE International include engineers as well as numerous other professionals working in a range of areas related to corrosion control.
  • American Coatings Association - ACA is a voluntary, nonprofit trade association working to advance the needs of the paint and coatings industry and the professionals who work in it, including: manufacturers, raw materials suppliers, distributors, and technical professionals.
  • Metropolitan New York Coating Association - MNYCA serves its members through the organization of networking events, technical and educational forums, the promotion of academic scholarship and by providing opportunities for professional development.
  • National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence - This organization is a non-profit and works to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.
  • Philadelphia Society for Coatings Technology - This organization’s mission is to promote research and development in the manufacture and use of paints, lacquers, and related products, while providing educational activities and interchange of ideas among members.
  • New England Society for Coating Technology - FSCT members represent the many diverse segments involved in coatings – from formulation and testing, to manufacture, sales, and management.
  • Painting Contractors Association - PCA is a national trade association dedicated to the success of painting and decorating contractors through ethics, education and excellence.
  • Pacific Northwest Society for Coating Technology - PNWSCT’s mission is to provide technical education and professional development to its members and to the global industry through technical symposiums and events, support and promote related education, public outreach, and cooperation with other organizations.
  • Painting and Decorating Contractors of America - PDCA is an association of painting and decorating contractors working together to improve our trade, our business, and our reputation as reliable, qualified trade professionals.
  • Southern Society for Coating Technology - The main goal of the Southern Society has been to provide technical assistance and educational activities for its members.
  • Finishing Contractors Association - This organization’s membership is comprised of contractors engaged in architectural glass & metal, drywall finishing, flooring, industrial coating, painting & wallcovering and sign work.
  • Steel Strucure Painting Council - The SSPC non-profit organization focused on the protection and preservation of concrete, steel, and other industrial and marine structures and surfaces through the use of high-performance, protective, marine and industrial coatings.
  • United Steelworkers - The United Steelworkers represent men and women who work in nearly every industry there is with a mission of fighting for better workplaces, better lives for everyone and a better world.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades – IUPAT members work in the Finishing Trades as industrial and commercial painters, drywall finishers, wall coverers, glaziers, glass workers, floor covering installers, sign makers, display workers, convention and show decorators and in many more exciting occupations.
  • Home Builders Institute - This organization’s mission is to advance and provide education, career development, training and placement of men and women serving the building industry.
  • Los Angeles Society for Coating Technology - LASCT is a voluntary, nonprofit trade association with a main objective to provide technical education and professional development to its members and to the Southern California coatings industry through its monthly technical presentations, technical documents, job assistance and scholarships.
  • National Association of Home Builders - NAHB strives to protect the American Dream of housing opportunities for all, while working to achieve professional success for its members who build communities, create jobs and strengthen our economy.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The AGC of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry; providing opportunities for firms to learn about ways to become more accomplished; and connecting them with the resources and individuals they need to be successful businesses and corporate citizens.
  • Powder Coating Institute - The Powder Coating Institute is committed to serving its members by promoting the benefits of powder coating technology.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.


  • Coatings World Magazine - official magazine of
  • Paint and Coatings Industry Magazine - official magazine of PCI
  • Industrial Paint and Protection Magazine - an online media platform dedicated to providing information about industrial asset protection through coatings and finishing
  • Coatings Pro Magazine - This magazine features projects from the applicator’s point of view in hopes that you, the reader, feel like you’re on the jobsite with the crew. As well, covers coatings on concrete, steel, and rooftops, as well as a few out-of-the-box projects, such as building envelope and spray polyurethane foam.
  • CoatingsTech Magazine - industry news, science and technology, market insight

Professional Organizations with Programs/Certification in Industrial Coating Applicators

  • NACE International Institute - The NACE Institute administers 23 certifications on a variety of disciplines including the industry-leading CIP (Coatings Inspector Program) endorsement.
  • Coating Systems Professional Certifications - dedicated to professionalism, to the jobsite and to the safety of workers, determined to stay on top of industry trends, technology, updates in safety and new certification and license opportunities.
  • CalPoly Coatings Technology Center - Cal Poly offers two intensive short courses for industry, one in the winter and another in the summer.
  • Society for Protective Coatings, Training and Education - search index to find training location
  • ACA STEM Education - ACA has partnered with Young Minds Inspired to create an educational STEM outreach program for middle school students that introduces coatings science, creates an awareness of what coatings are, and demonstrates coatings applications.
  • NACE Int’l Industrial Coating Application -  This e-course training program benchmarks best practices in safety, process control, surface preparation, coatings application, and inspection.