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Finishing Trades


Finishing or wet work is part of the Construction, Plumbing and Services industry.  Work centres on residential and non-residential projects, new builds and renovations.

Sectors in the industry

Finishing covers the last stages of the building construction sector which is floor and wall tiling, fibrous and solid plastering, and painting and decorating.

  • Painting and decorating covers the application paint, varnish, wallpaper and other finishes to protect, maintain and decorate interior and exterior surfaces buildings and other structures.
  • Solid plastering is about applying decorative and protective coverings of plaster, cement or similar materials to the interiors and exteriors of buildings.
  • Fibrous plastering means to make, apply and fix the internal linings of commercial and domestic buildings.
  • Floor and wall tiling is about laying ceramic, clay, slate, marble, glass and other types of tiles on external and internal walls and floors to provide protective and decorative finishes.

Source: Master Builders AustraliaArtibus Innovation

Employer profile for the industry

The Finishing trades sector employs just over 100,000 people, with a few large enterprises but mainly dominated by small-scale businesses. Opportunities in the sector depend on the level of building and renovation activity.

Typical features of the workforce

  • 83% of the workforce is full-time
  • Women make up 9% of the workforce
  • 58% of the workforce holds a Certificate III or IV qualification and less than 10% hold higher education qualifications.

Emerging sectors, future growth

Technological advances in plaster materials make for lighter, easier to use products.

Changes in paints are driven by manufacturers who compete to make more durable, stain proof and antibacterial products. The focus is also on better finishes and less frequency of repainting.

Jobs in Demand

Fibrous Plasterer. Painting Trades Worker, Signwriter, Solid Plasterer and Wall and Floor Tiler are occupations have been identified as being in skill shortage on the National Skills List.

Licensed occupations and registrations

There are a wide range of licensing requirements across the states and territories for a number of occupations in the Building and Construction industry.

Access state and territory regulatory authority sites across several occupations through the Australian Government’s Licence Recognition website.

Safe Work Australia also provides links to all state and territory information.

Work Health and Safety

Under Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation all people working on construction sites must complete general construction induction training.  This is often referred to as a ‘White Card’, or ‘Blue Card’ depending on the training done or the location.  In any case, it’s needed before entering a construction site.  Safe Work NSW provides information in this area for states and territories.

Key Occupations

Fibrous Plasterer



Solid Plasterer

Wall and Floor Tiler


Building & Construction

Work Type

Practical & Manual

Creative & Artistic

Ready to see where Finishing Trades can take you?

Career Pathways

Finishing Trades are part of the Construction, Plumbing & Services Industry and has career pathways from Certificate II through to Diploma. Look at the Job Pathway Chart to see what is of interest.

Job Pathway Chart

Practice Aptitude Quiz

This resource illustrates the maths and literacy needed to complete the entry level training in this sector.

Download The Quiz

Aaron - Pre-apprentice Painter and Decorator

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Chris - Apprentice Painter and Decorator

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Erin - Apprentice Painter and Decorator

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Support Services

Further Research


Industry information is published by peak level associations, government and major employers.  Accessing industry association sites, including member lists, is a good way of building up an understanding of an industry.  Visiting employer websites and looking for careers or employment menus helps identify how employers recruit and the skills they are recruiting.

Use Google to search for the associations and organisations listed below. 


  • Master Painters’ Association (NSW)
  • Master Painters’ Association (QLD)
  • Master Painters’ Australia (VIC an TAS)
  • Master Painters, Decorators and Signwriters Association of South Australia
  • Master Painters & Decorators Australia
  • Master Builders Association
  • Australian Constructors Association
  • Housing Industry Association
  • Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries