June 12, 2020

Marine Spray Painter

As a spray painter you will be working with products such as antifouling, primers, epoxy coatings, polyurethane paints and coatings, zinc coatings, vinyl paints and modified acrylic coatings.

Spray painting a boat is not a regular or simple task and it requires specialised equipment and experience. Boats generally have a very smooth and high gloss finish and you will need to work under an experienced marine spray painter to gain the necessary experience and knowledge. Boats require significant surface preparation before spraying can start. You will need to wear protective clothing and a respirator and the boat will need to have a plastic sheet tent around it, or if it is a small boat it could fit into a spray booth. There are always new technologies and paints on the market and you will need to stay up to date with paint application and methods. You will also need to understand the effect temperature and humidity has on paint application and drying.

As a spray painter you will be working with products such as antifouling, primers, epoxy coatings, polyurethane paints and coatings, zinc coatings, vinyl paints and modified acrylic coatings. Using a spray gun, you need to have the correct line pressure and technique as well as know the time needed between coats of paint. This means the job suits someone who is a perfectionist and is patient. You must enjoy practical and manual activity and be prepared to stand and bend/crouch all day. You will need good hand eye co-ordination as well as normal colour vision. Being physically fit is important and you must not have any breathing problems or allergies to paints or thinners.

Key tasks:

• Prepare the hull surface (this includes taping, filling, fairing, sanding, dusting, priming).
• Mix the paint/chemicals.
• Using a spray gun apply the primer and paint coats.
• Rub down the surface between coats.
• Apply the bootstripe.
• Polish.
• Clean the work area and equipment.                                                                  

Entry requirements/training:

There is no formal way to become a marine spray painter, but if you took a National Certificate: Automotive Spray Painting (NQF Level 2, SAQA 64410) learnership offered by a TVET College you would gain some of the basic knowledge and practical aspects of spray painting. You would need the equivalent of an NQF Level 1 to register for the course. Bear in mind the physical constraints discussed above (colour blindness, allergies or physically unfit for practical work all day).

Career advancement:

A good marine spray painter with experience will be in demand in South Africa, but there are not lots of jobs. Generally, a boat builder will outsource the spray painting to a professional team. If you join such a team as a trainee you can work your way up and take on more complex spray jobs as you become more experienced. Eventually you could set up your own business. Refurbishing and spray painting older boats is also another opportunity to set up your own business and provide private boat owners with a service.

Associated job opportunities:

Because marine spray painting is the pinnacle of spray painting, you could also look at work opportunities in the aeronautical sector, where high-end finishes and attention to detail are required. The automotive sector will also offer opportunities for a good spray painter; that could either be in an automotive factory or working for a body repair shop.