Is it Worth Getting an NVQ in Decorating?

Updated Apr 20, 2024 | Posted Mar 29, 2021 | Professional insight, Business | 4 comments

I was browsing on the Facebook groups the other day, like you do, and I saw a post asking for the best place to get an NVQ. This decorator was not qualified but he felt that it would help his work prospects if he did get qualified. 

We deal with a great company called The North West Skills Academy and they have secured funding so that they can offer the NVQ for free to the candidate. This is a great offer and means that a decorator can get qualified at no cost to himself. In fact, if the decorator is CITB registered they will get a one off £600 bonus for achieving the qualification.  

Happy days. 

So, I posted and tagged the guy in. I said, “You can get the NVQ for free from North West Skills Academy” and then just to be encouraging I also said, “It would be well worth it.” That was my good deed for the day done, I do not get anything for passing on candidates, no commission or kick backs or anything like that, I did it to help the guy. 

Someone immediately jumped into the conversation and said to me “why is it worth doing an NVQ?”, to be honest the reply needed to be a long one to answer this question properly and I was busy doing other things, so I didn’t really answer the question.  

My mind continued to ponder it though. I read some of the other comments, things like, “qualifications don’t matter” and “my reputation gets me the work” and other less interesting comments. 

I can understand to some extent the “no qualification camp”, they are probably self-taught or taught by their dad and they have always been self employed and in work and they have never been asked for their qualifications. Of course, you can get through life with no qualifications, many people do. 

But there are a few reasons that I think its worth getting a qualification, and here they are, 

First, if you are new to the industry then as part of getting your qualification you will be trained in many aspects of the job. You will learn about the correct preparation and primers to use. How to wallpaper and how to use a range of tools.  


Then when you pass the qualification this “piece of paper” tells the future employer that you have took the effort to learn the trade properly. This will help you when you are decorating, and it will also help you get the job over the “self-taught” person. 

This alone is worth the effort. You never know in the future when you may need to get a job working for a bigger firm or a local authority. Its alright being self-employed when your twenty but when you’re fifty a nice cushy job working for the council seems attractive.

Second, if you are self-taught and you have been doing the job a while then you can do an NVQ. This would be done on site. An assessor will come out and look at your work and you will also be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of the trade. Now in fairness the quality of some of the assessors varies and some are very professional and some just want to get you through the process. 

If the NVQ is delivered by a good training company then you should come out the other end with a bit of new knowledge and an assurance that you have actually been doing things right. I think there is benefit in this, you feel more confident telling people you are a decorator now you have a qualification. Someone else has said “yes, you are good”. 

Third, a qualification is like an off the shelf starter reputation. Its okay saying that you get your work based on your reputation if you have been trading for twenty years but what about if you have not got any experience at all?  

A qualification tells the customer that a college has looked at the decorators work and said “yes, they are up to a standard”. Again, in the past colleges may pass people who were less than worthy and experienced decorators have picked up on this. However, the Government has introduced a new system across the board (all sectors not just construction) which means an apprentice now has to do an “end point assessment” at a centre that is different to the one where you have trained, very much like a driving test. This way you have got to be at a certain standard otherwise you will not pass. 

Finally, I think a qualified decorator gives the trade a good reputation and image to our customers. If we go round saying “oh yeah, I am self-taught, I wear my tracky bottoms but honestly I do a good job” what signal does that send out to the customer? It says, “anyone can do what I do, I am not really worth very much”. The customer sees a decorator with a smart van, wearing clean white overalls with City and Guilds qualified on the side of the van and the customer thinks “professional”. 


My observation of all professionals is that they make a good living and in the end that’s what we all want from our decorating. 

Final Thoughts


Over 50% of self-employed decorators do not have any formal qualifications. This boggles my mind, especially when they can undergo On Site Assessment and achieve an NVQ in a few simple steps.

Should all decorators be qualified? Should there be some sort of decorating license a tradesman needs to apply for before they can work in peoples’ homes? Or maybe I’m just overthinking it. I still think it’s worth getting an NVQ in decorating!

Is it Worth Getting an NVQ in Decorating?

Updated Apr 20, 2024 | Posted Mar 29, 2021 | 4 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Craig

    Also getting an NVQ will lead to other things n the field your trained in like teaching being a decorator can take it toll on the old knees and body so to get older and have no qualification this could work against you where as having NVQ level 3 this will open the door to other options like teaching.

  2. Mr Robert Wilson

    Having qualifications has helped me tremendously over many years not only does it enhance my reputation as a professional decorator I’ve also been asked on numerous occasions to be an expert witness in court cases For which I have been well remunerated I also give talks in schools and colleges for which I don’t charge but enjoy giving back to the community

  3. Khany

    I’m fully qualified decorator after doing a diploma level 2 but to apply for a cscs card I need NVQ. I can’t find industry employment. Every company is asking for CSCS badge which i cant get without NVQ. I mean how can I get NVQ if no industry is employing people without cscs card? I can’t even find an apprenticeship? Can someone help me find a way as NVQ only takes between 4 to 6 weeks in employment.

  4. Gliss Training

    Gliss Training Education Services has been offering compliance training for over 10 years. Since then we have delivered around 5,000 courses, taught over 50,000 people and covered 3,000,000+ minutes of learning, thus allowing us to become industry leaders.


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