More Money More Problems

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Painter pay varies across the country, but all that glitters isn’t gold metallic. Just like a painting project, you have to do your prep work to really know how well your salary holds up. For example, by the numbers, Hawaii ranks number two in a painter’s annual salary, but if your crew thinks they’ll get a better deal in the land of McGarrett, Dano, and Magnum PI, they should think twice before making the move – when the cost of living is factored in it falls down from two… all the way… to… 48.

According to, a website devoted to job and career research, the top five states/districts for painter pay are...

Alaska – $57,560
Hawaii – $56,030
New Jersey – $55,870
Massachusetts – $54,810
Washington, D.C. – $53,420

The top five when adjusted for cost of living give the nod to painting in the Midwest:

West Virginia

The bottom five (with Maryland last), again adjusted for cost of living:

South Dakota

Zippia lists average painter salary at $34,000 a year. By city, painters in Los Angeles bring in an average of $44,000; your typical Chicago painter takes home $35,000. Painters in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri both bring in approximately $38,000, but statistically speaking that salary goes the farthest. A Fairbanks, Alaska painter takes home $48,000 while on the opposite end of the country, Key West, Florida pays about $33,000. Experience matters, and there is, according to the website, significant opportunity to increase your pay as you gain years and knowhow. Along with working independently or for a contractor, many painters find good salary at industrial facilities, manufacturing plants, and other institutions.

Make sure to stay tuned for our “State of the Industry” article in the September issue where we’ll explore more statistics and comparisons!

In the meantime, check out last year's State of the Industry 2019 and compaire to our upcoming article. How will COVID impact the industry in 2020?

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