Aircraft Spray Painter

Paint some of the most exciting aircraft in Australian skies, managing equipment and materials, implementing corrosion prevention processes, and applying tape and decals.

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Job Overview

About the Job

Aircraft Spray Painters can be equated to civilian Automotive Spray Painters but that's where the similarity ends. As an Aircraft Spray Painter you'll be responsible for the application of protective paint coatings to ADF aircraft. Air Force Spray Painters are employed on duties which include the paint stripping and painting of metallic and composite surfaces of aircraft; corrosion prevention processes; preparation and use of aircraft support equipment; identification and demanding of aircraft paint equipment and materials, maintenance of spray painting equipment and amendment and maintenance of technical publications. Spray Painters are also involved in stencilling, and the application of tapes and decals.

Working Conditions. The working environment varies because of the nature of the work encountered. Air Force Spray Painters are often exposed to outdoor conditions and inclement weather, cramped or awkward working positions, confined working spaces, poor light conditions, and aircraft, machinery and equipment noise and vibration. Where possible, work is performed in shelters, hangars or workshops that offer protection from inclement weather. Workshops may be of the open structure or climate controlled type, depending on the maintenance performed. Work is often performed outside normal hours and during stand down periods.

You may at times during your career, have the opportunity to also work on aircraft belonging to the Navy and Army and be employed within Navy or Army Units.

Weapon Systems. As an Aircraft Spray Painter you may be employed on one of the following aircraft types:

  • Fighter, (F/A-18 Hornet, Hawk, PC9)
  • Maritime, (AP3C Orion)
  • Strike, (F/A-18F Super Hornet) or
  • Transport, (Hercules, C-17 Globemaster, KC-30A).

Physical Effort. Daily tasks involve considerable standing and climbing with lifting and handling of light materials, tools and equipment. Lifting and handling of heavy equipment and materials occasionally occurs during painting of heavy items, working with scaffolds and trestles, or handling large material containers.

Manual Dexterity and Physical Co-Ordination. Some specialised manual dexterity is required in the use of brushes and spray guns. Normal physical co-ordination is adequate for most tasks.

Speed and Accuracy of Movement. A high degree of accuracy of movement is required for most tasks; however, rapid response or great speed of movement is not normally required.

Contact with Others. Spray Painters are required to frequently interact with other technical trades and civilian staff.

Probability and Consequence of Error. Paint removing compounds, some chemicals and most solvents used in Spray Painting can ruin composite fibre structures and expensive acrylic canopies. Improper techniques can eventually lead to corrosion and destruction of basic metal structures. There is the possibility of error and the consequences can be major and costly.

Responsibility for Money and Material. The job does not involve any responsibility for the care of money. However, accounting responsibilities require the custody and correct use of valuable technical equipment, tools, machinery, publications, materials, job items and other military assets.

Trade Criticality. The duties of an Aircraft Spray Painter in aircraft identification, conspicuity or inconspicuity are critical to the operational effectiveness of the RAAF. The surface finishing is a major factor in the protection of corrosion of aircraft structures; lack of suitable protective coating for any length of time would seriously affect the serviceability and life of the aircraft.

Handling of Classified Documents and Equipment. During the course of duties, Aircraft Spray Painters may be required to handle classified documents and equipment.

Hazards. Inherent hazards exist in tasks associated with exposure to toxic / caustic materials; contact of exposed skin with paint remover and operating at heights over 5 metres. Personal protective equipment is provided and its use is enforced. Tasks require constant care and development of safe working habits to avoid injury. Minor cuts and bruises may be sustained, but the possibility exists of sustaining more serious injury from machinery, plant, equipment and operational aircraft systems.

Other Ranks - Technical

Join the ADF and receive full trade training

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Salary can be over $67,280 p.a. on completion of initial employment training. This salary includes Uniform and Service allowance.

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Key Information

Salary & Allowances

On initial entry as a partially qualified Aircraft Spray Painter you are enlisted as an Aircraftman / Aircraftwoman Recruit (ACR/ACWR) and remain as such until graduation from 1RTU.

However, in recognition of your trade qualifications you will be paid the salary of an Aircraftman / Aircraftwoman (AC/ACW) on Pay Grade 3 at the rate of $2,049 per fortnight ($53,289 per year) upon enlistment.

To assist you in maintaining your uniforms in good order and condition, you will also receive a Uniform Allowance of $16 per fortnight ($419 per year).

In addition to your base salary, Service Allowance at the rate of $538 per fortnight ($13,991 per year) is paid once you have completed Recruit training to compensate for the unique requirements that service life may impose on you or your family.

Each General Entry job in the Australian Defence Force is classified into a pay grade. This particular job is classified as a Pay Grade 3 occupation, with the following progressions as applicable:

  • Aircraft Surface Finisher Grade 1, Pay Grade 3
  • Advanced Aircraft Surface Finisher, Pay Grade 4
  • Aircraft Surface Finisher Supervisor, Pay Grade 5 and
  • Aircraft Surface Finisher Technical Manager, Pay Grade 6.

Refer to the Salary Scales and the Pay Benefits section for further details.

* Note: These figures do not include compulsory deductions for taxation; meals, accommodation and utilities (as applicable); or superannuation.


Possible Aircraft Spray Painter employment locations after trade training include:

  • Tindal, NT
  • Amberley, QLD
  • Richmond, NSW
  • Williamtown, NSW and
  • Edinburgh, SA



Applicants must be aged between 17 and 54 years of age inclusive on day of entry.

Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age, depending upon the capacity of their local recruiting centre.

Education & Experience

Applicants must hold civilian qualifications in Motor Vehicle spraypainting competence by the attainment of Certificate III Automotive Engineering (Automotive Body Refinishing) or equivalent.

Note: Applicants must have a pass in Year 10 English in addition to holding the relevant trade qualification.

If you do not satisfy the education requirements for this trade or do not possess evidence of the required educational attainment there is an alternative pathway available to you.

You may be eligible to sit an Alternative Education Equivalency (AEE) Assessment to ascertain your ability at the required educational level for this trade.

Further information is available here.

Applicants must provide proof of high school results in addition to original trade certificates, units of competency results and a current resume to their Careers Counsellor. These documents will then be forwarded to the Recruiting Liaison Officer (RLO-1) at Directorate of Personnel - Air Force for review by the Air Force job sponsor to establish eligibility for partially qualified enlistment.

Medical & Fitness

To be enlisted or appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry to your chosen occupation. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination.

You will also be required to successfully pass a physical fitness test before appointment.

For further details on medical and physical fitness standards refer to Physical Fitness Standards for Entry into the ADF and Medical Process for Entry into the ADF.

Period of Service

You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years. Subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service.

You may request discharge at any time provided you do not have an outstanding Initial Minimum Period of Service obligation and provide a minimum of three months' notice.


The application process to join the Australian Defence Force requires you to complete a series of aptitude tests which may include verbal, spatial and numerical ability and a general maths test. Some jobs may also require you to complete additional testing at a later date.

Psychology support staff will explain what is involved with each test.

The aptitude tests provide information about your suitability for the Defence Force and for particular jobs. Defence Force Recruiting can then help you identify jobs that best match your abilities.

Further information on the aptitude testing requirements can be found here.


Only Australian Citizens are permitted to serve in the ADF.

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary waiver of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.

Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.

Security Requirements

The Department of Defence requires ADF entrants to attain a security clearance appropriate to their avenue of entry. Details on the security requirements for all Air Force jobs can be found here.


Military Training

Duration: 10.6 weeks

Location: RAAF Base Wagga (NSW)

You'll start your Air Force career at No 1 Recruit Training Unit (1RTU). In three intensive months you'll transition smoothly from civilian to Service life, acquiring the basic knowledge, skills and physical fitness required for your role; and learning to become an effective and productive member of the Air Force.

You can read about what to expect at the No.1 Recruit Training Unit on the 1RTU website. You'll also find useful information in our Joining instructions.

Employment Training

Direct Entrant (Requiring further training)

Employment training for Aircraft Spray Painters is undertaken in two phases. The first phase commences at RAAF Base Wagga after completion of recruit training, the second phase is undertaken in the workplace at an operational unit. A brief description of the training content, duration and location is detailed below.

Phase One

Duration: 10 weeks (this is an approximate duration and may be subject to change).

Location: RAAF School of Technical Training (RAAFSTT) at RAAF Base Wagga (NSW).

On completion of recruit training and as an AC / ACW Aircraft Spray Painter you will undertake approximately 10 weeks of Core Aviation Trade Skills training at RAAFSTT. This training covers aspects of basic maintenance, processes, procedures and documentation in the aviation environment.

Phase Two

Duration: 15-35 weeks (On-the-Job Training completed in the work place).

Location: RAAF Base Edinburgh (SA), RAAF Base Richmond (NSW), and RAAF Base Williamtown (NSW).

Upon completion of Core Aviation Trade Skills training you will be posted to an operational unit to commence Aircraft Spray Painter specific employment training. This training is designed for qualified automotive spray painters to become competent Aircraft Spray Painters.

The training provides theoretical and practical On-the-Job Training (OJT) in Aircraft Spray Painting and is conducted as a self-paced course that can be completed in 15 to 35 weeks. On completion of OJT (and 12 months post graduation from 1RTU) you will be eligible for promotion to LAC / LACW.