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As Career, Painting Has Covered It Nicely

October 10, 1994|JANICE L. JONES

ANAHEIM — Cliff Hampton, 42, has been around painting and paperhanging for most of his life. In fact, Wilson & Hampton, the company for which he has worked off and on since high school, was founded by his great-uncle in 1923.

Hampton started in the business by spending summers and weekends helping on various projects. "Painting can be very messy, dirty work, but I liked helping the paperhangers," he said. "I used to help one of our workers by pasting up the paper he was getting ready to hang. I could barely keep up with him he worked so fast. People would stop just to watch him work. He was like a machine."

Hampton's firm specializes in architectural and industrial painting. Architectural work involves the interior and exterior painting of offices, hospitals and other commercial buildings, while industrial painting involves factories, equipment, tanks and towers.

"Few people have enough skill to do both types of work well. Industrial jobs often require the removal of hazardous materials such as lead-based paints or corroded surfaces with abrasive blasting materials," Hampton said. "This is very dirty work, and you have to be careful with the hazardous materials. Industrial surfaces are also inspected very carefully to make sure they measure up to standards. There's no cutting corners."

According to Hampton, those capable of working in both capacities are rarely unemployed. "We have a few of them on staff, and they are busy all the time. In fact, anyone who is bright and aggressive can move up in this field," he said. "It's also a good line of work to enter if you want to someday own your own business."

OCCUPATION: Painter, paperhanger

* What's involved: Hanging wall coverings and painting homes, offices, businesses and industrial sites.

* Qualifications: Most learn the trade through union-sponsored apprenticeships involving on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

* Outlook: By 1998, the number of painters and paperhangers in Orange County is expected to increase 8.5%, to 3,320.

* Salary range: Union pay scales for apprentices range from $7 to $10 an hour. Journeymen workers make $19 to $22 an hour.

* Pros: Steady employment for those with a wide range of skills. Many enjoy the variety of job sites and work environments.

* Cons: Some painting projects involve working with hazardous materials. The work may also involve heights, working atop scaffolding or in confined spaces.

* Advancement: Experienced painters and paper hangers often become project managers who coordinate teams of workers and keep clients informed of the project's progress. Many open their own firms.

* Quote: "We try to be inventive and imaginative in coming up with new paint processes and methods of doing things. That involves drawing on everyone's expertise to get the job done."

--Cliff Hampton, Wilson & Hampton Painting Contractors

Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times

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