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Aircraft Painter

What They Do

Insider Info

Aircraft painters don't just keep planes and helicopters looking good. They keep aircraft in top condition by applying and maintaining protective coats of paint. They may paint the plane or helicopter's body, wings, propellers -- even interiors and engines.

The work is similar to car or boat painting, but because harsh conditions at high altitudes are involved, it's a little more technical.

Planes are inspected, prepped and painted in a paint shop. Painters should always wear protective gear to prevent chemicals from entering their lungs or eyes.

Insurance costs for companies are high and it's important to keep employees up to date on the latest safety procedures. Chemical exposure can be hazardous to the worker's general health. "You're constantly around chemicals on a daily basis and you have to keep safety in mind all the time," says painter Gary Ainsworth.

Most companies will provide their painters with masks and gloves for protection. Tim Braithwaite says that some workers fly out the shop door without looking back. "You've got to be strong and be able to withstand the chemicals. I've had people come in here and last two days and they're gone," he says.

Painters also have to understand basic math to mix paints. A good eye for color and balance help, too.

Women are receiving a warm welcome into all aspects of aviation maintenance.

Robin Lamar is the vice-president of the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM). She is writing a paper on the hopes and fears of women in the aviation field. According to Lamar, many young women fear they will meet resistance in the aviation field.

"One of the resistances to young women entering the field is that feeling of loneliness and isolation," says Lamar. According to Lamar, the women who've responded to her questionnaires have felt welcomed into the aviation community.

"They haven't really felt resistance....It's really neat. When it comes to the part of 'Would you do it again?' the exclamation marks after 'yes' are really loud," says Lamar.

At a Glance

Paint and maintain the "skins" of aircraft

  • Painters should always wear protective gear
  • You have to understand basic math to mix paints
  • On-the-job training is common


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    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network
    ndcrn@nd.gov | (701) 328-9733