Develop a Successful Career as a Coating Specialist

Any construction, manufacturing, or maintenance process involves a myriad of moving parts that contribute to the safety and efficiency of the overall project. To ensure  that the end product is both safe and of high quality, it is extremely important that the correct standards and codes are followed throughout the various phases of a project.

That is why a specialist for paint coatings works alongside other industry specialists to elevate the safety of the entire project.

Typically, a coatings specialist will apply a protective coating selected based on the specific specification requirements of the  industry and project in question, and thus sets the stage for other workers to safely continue using the equipment or that particular workspace. That’s why trained and certified coating specialists are in demand in manufacturing, construction, as well as different energy industries such as oil and gas. 

The demand combined with the multifaceted nature of this profession makes it a promising career for professionals who continue to upgrade their skills and certifications. Let’s cover some of the most essential roles and responsibilities of certified coating specialists, ways to improve your skills, and common coatings specialist jobs you can apply for.

What Is a Coating Specialist?

The duties and responsibilities of a protective coating specialist will greatly vary from one niche to another. For instance, working in the residential sector often means mastering the craft of floor and texture coating, while in an industrial sector, you would need working knowledge and experience of various concrete and metal coatings.

As a specialist in paint coatings, you need to work with various types of power tools such as spray guns for applying any type of coating, and automation tools. However, while certain aspects of application are automated, they still require a human to be operated and optimised properly.

A typical coating specialist job description includes the following skills and duties, but keep in mind that additional responsibilities specific to different industries apply:

  • Up-to-date knowledge of the latest health and safety standards in your industry.
  • The ability to work from various blueprints and designs to meet the needs of the specific project.
  • Calibrating and managing a range of power tools and coating application equipment.
  • Adjusting the automated coating tools for efficiency and quality, including the spray flow and temperature.
  • Using an array of software tools designed to perfect the coating application process.
  • Preparing the surface or the component for applying the right coating.
  • Preparing the coating itself.
  • Using different kinds of testing tools to evaluate the coating and to perform any touch-ups if necessary.
  • Developing the right coating maintenance programs that will ensure the integrity of the protective layer over time.
  • Working closely with other team members, including the client and the suppliers involved in the project.
  • Creating and updating all the related documentation to report on the coating application process.
  • Reporting any accidents or health, safety, and environmental violations.
  • Knowledge of all the right compliance protocols for your industry and following them every step of the way.

Typical coating application specialist jobs will require that you have a high-school degree (or a GED equivalent) at least in order to apply for entry-level jobs. You need to know the fundamentals of geometry, mathematics, algebra, and be able to use a computer at a basic level as a minimum. 

Some jobs require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or physical sciences as the basis for working in the industry. Then, you can work in a starting position and obtain industry-specific experience to climb the ladder and qualify for different certifications.

Many coating specialist positions have overlapping requirements and some of the skills you’ll develop in, say, construction, can help you in case you want to try your hand in manufacturing or oil and gas. With that in mind, let’s get a closer look at what certain coating specialist jobs entail so that you can find a good match for yourself. 

Industrial Coating Specialists

In any industrial sector, a protective coating specialist is a crucial expert that ensures the short and long-term safety and resilience of certain structures, components, and machinery.

From building bridges or piping structures, to setting up entire storage facilities that use concrete and metals of different sorts, industrial coating specialists apply paint and coating that will prevent corrosion, deterioration of any kind, and other environmental damage.

Industrial coating is used for protecting both the interior and exterior surfaces and structures, and it might require accessing hard-to-reach spots and working closely with other engineering staff on site. 

Becoming a Metal Coating Specialist

Ideally, when working in an industrial sector, you should develop a range of skills and be able to work with a variety of materials and coating systems. However, some methods are used only in certain industrial environments and with specific materials. 

As a metal coating specialist, you can focus on mastering application methods and technologies that help preserve structures and components made of various metals.

Due to continuous exposure to moisture and oxygen, metal tends to corrode, which is why protective coating is so essential to prevent such issues that can jeopardise the structural stability and safety of metal structures.

When applied correctly, metal coatings will prolong the lifespan of all metal surfaces. There are several ways to create a protective barrier for a metal object. One of the most commonly used methods is powder coating, performed by a specialist in powder coating.

What Do Powder Coating Specialists Do?

They use an electrostatic procedure enabling the application of coating particles that are differently charged compared to the material that is being coated. This causes the particles to stick to the metal surface and thereby create a barrier to prevent the environment from interacting with the metal.

This type of coating is usually very thick and it’s necessary to apply heat for the coating to harden properly. Since no solvents are used in this process, the risk of any volatile organic compound emissions is exceptionally low.

Although this type of coating is frequently used and it’s highly effective, it’s not applicable to every industry sector. The need for a furnace to harden the coating means you can only apply it to objects up to a certain size.

Concrete Coating Specialists

As sturdy as concrete is, it can be a porous material and it still requires protection from the elements, harsh industry chemicals, regular wear and tear, not to mention storms and other extreme conditions. To ensure proper protection, concrete coating specialists use a range of coating methods that go beyond merely splashing a coat of paint.

The choice of concrete coating depends on the purpose of the building. If it’s used in the heavy industries, exposing the concrete to chemical spills and continuous abrasion, then more durable, long-lasting sealants are required. In residential situations when moisture and wear and tear are the most typical issue, then a different protective coat is needed.

Since concrete is used in so many industries and for so many purposes, you can find versatile protective coating specialist jobs in this sector. The more sealants and methods you’re familiar with, the greater the likelihood for you to work in an industrial environment, construction, or manufacturing, as well as residential where aesthetics are as important as functionality in choosing the right concrete coating methods.

Epoxy Coating Specialists

Used for protecting warehouse floors, as well as garage floors and metal surfaces, epoxy coating is a widely used protective method by any floor coating specialist. Although epoxy might not be the best option for every floor depending on the intended use and material, epoxy floor coating specialists can work in a range of industries.

When it’s used in residential building and protection, it can last for more than a decade. But in industrial environments, the exposure to much higher levels of abrasion and wear and tear, not to mention chemical spills wears the epoxy down faster, calling for repairs and repeat application. 

The Responsibilities of Deck Coating Specialists

When you have a solid knowledge of specific coating techniques and work in a market with a high demand in a unique sector, you can narrow down your speciality even further. For example, deck coating specialists and contractors are very sought after in residential areas.

Home owners will typically hire deck coating specialists and waterproofing contractors to make sure their decks are protected and sealed to prevent moisture-related decay and deterioration. 

This is a great job opportunity for people in residential communities that are rapidly expanding, and you can accept projects based on demand, or work for a company dedicated to providing such services. 

Become a Specialist for Fire Coatings

Buildings in commercial, residential, as well as industrial environments need to have proper fire protection. A specialist for fire coatings will commit to the job at hand by applying a selection of fire-retardant coatings that serve several key functions.

They prevent fire from starting, reduce its intensity, slow down the spread of fire, and they reduce the amount of smoke fire can produce. The use of non-combustible chemicals allows the interior and exterior surfaces of buildings in any scenario to be safer, which makes a specialist for fire coatings essential on any project. 

Texture Coating Specialists

For houses, residential and commercial buildings, but also in various industries (such as automotive), texture coating is an excellent, in-demand technique that protects the exterior surfaces from moisture and damage.

Texture coating specialists use blends of acrylic and polymer substances designed to waterproof a surface and make it much more durable. This flexible material is also handy for homes in earthquake-prone areas, as texture coating helps seal the cracks.

Working as a Ceramic Coating Specialist

In case you want to work in the automotive industry, you can benefit from becoming a ceramic coating specialist. This job entails applying a chemical polymer on the car’s exterior to add a layer of protection from the elements. 

For example, it’s extremely useful for protecting the paintwork of the vehicle, as it doesn’t degrade in typical environmental conditions, no matter the season. Ceramic coating prevents the UV rays from damaging your car’s paint, as well as debris and dirt. Now that so many manufacturers and custom-made vehicles depend on ceramic coating, we can expect more work to arise for this type of specialist. 

A Typical Coating Specialist Salary

While coating specialist contractors can typically make more on average because they can pick specific projects and their time commitment, the jobs in this field are highly valued and well paid. 

Coatings specialist jobs in heavy industries are paid better, but the risks that come with the job are also greater. But the following are some of the common hourly wages and annual pays you can expect in different countries.

A Coating Specialist Salary in the US

The US market shows the average $40,423 annual salary for coating specialists, or $19 per hour. 

A Coating Specialist Salary in the UK

For UK coating specialists, the average salary is approximately £29,780 per year, or £14 per hour.

A Coating Specialist Salary in Canada

This work brings around $60,864 per year in Canada, or $28 per hour.

A Coating Specialist Salary in AU

Australian coating specialists typically charge AU$27.36 per hour, and earn AU$61,463 annually.

Coating Application Specialist Certification

Certified coating specialists are valued more in every industry and they often have better working knowledge of the latest coating application methods and safety protocols. The two of the most widely-recognized certifications by NACE and SSPC are, in fact, merging into an integrated program for training and certification. 

As it stands, there are certain overlaps between the NACE and SSPC programs for Coating Application Specialists, and until the programs are fully merged, the separate certifications are still considered valid. 

A screenshot of the AMPP page for the Protective Coating Specialist course.


NACE Protective Coating Specialist and SSPC Protective Coating Specialist

The Association for Materials Protection and Performance, or AMPP, provides accredited education and certification so that you can become a NACE protective coating specialist and a SSPC Protective Coating Specialist. 

Through their Protective Coating Specialist program, you gain the necessary knowledge and expertise for the certifications. 

To qualify, you need 8 years of relevant experience and a bachelor’s degree in engineering or physical sciences, or previous certification as a coating technician, CIP Peer Certification, or SSPC Protective Coating Specialist certification. You also need to finish the course Ethics for the Corrosion Professional.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a degree and other certifications, you need 12 years of relevant work experience.

As a certification candidate, you have 4 years to complete the requirements, and to pass the exam. The written exam lasts 180 minutes and consists of 85 questions. You need to renew your certificate every 3 years.

The dedicated SSPC Protective Coating Specialist certification has a different prerequisite list:

A screenshot showing the exam requirements for the SSPC exam.

The exam costs $700.00 for non-members and $500.00 for members of AMPP. 

Find the Best Protective Coating Specialist Jobs

Both in the residential and industrial sector, there are numerous coatings specialist jobs you can apply for to gain experience and define your future career in this role. The BuildStream team can help you set up your profile and resume on our platform for free, to start searching for that perfect job that will enable you to thrive.

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