Overview of the role

Surface finishing is a broad range of industrial processes that alter the surface of a manufactured item to achieve a certain property.

Details of standard

This standard has options. Display duties and KSBs for:

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the engineering and manufacturing sector within the marine, aviation and automotive industries. Surface finishers may work for boat manufacturers, refit and repair boatyards, marinas, specialist marine companies, aerospace manufacturing, repair and restoration companies and automotive manufacturers including ‘supercar’ manufacturers and motorsport companies. These can be small, medium or large businesses. Surface finishers can undertake work on a variety of products including for example motorised cruisers, narrowboats, sailing boats, work boats, superyachts, high end vehicles, supercars, private jets and commercial aircraft. This is a core and options apprenticeship standard. Apprentices will be trained and assessed against the core and one option. There are three options: 1. Marine surface finisher 2. Aviation surface finisher 3. Automotive surface finisher

The broad purpose of the occupation is for surface finishers to prepare the wooden (hard and soft woods), metal (ferrous and non-ferrous) or composite (FRP, FRC) hulls, superstructures, chassis and components of boats, vehicles and aircrafts of varying complexity and size. They plan their work, set up equipment and apply coatings to the prepared surface using specialist techniques and products for example, spray, hand paint, varnish and French polish. They identify paint defects, take corrective action, carry out performance testing and quality assurance activities including the use of inspection equipment. They carry out maintenance activities on facilities and equipment and complete a wide range of documentation. The main differences between the three options are those relating to dimensional scale, volume of throughput, operational environment, materials (automotive uses water-based paints, marine uses a lot of varnishes and aerospace uses more complex substrates subject to regulatory oversight), technology, equipment and application technique.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with the immediate team such as production staff, quality assurance staff and specialist trades such as engineers, boat builders, riggers, carpenters, welders and electricians. They also liaise with other departments regularly, such as sales, health and safety, human resources, audit and training. Surface finishers may also have contact with external technical paint representatives, contractors, customers and suppliers. Surface finishers work in paint preparation workshops, finishing spray booths, tented areas, product interiors and other outside environments. These areas house a range of specialist tools and equipment, which could include a maintenance area, mixing area and adjoining workshops.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for ensuring the highest standards are met when preparing a product or coating to the appropriate final surface finish. They must ensure the safety of themselves and others and the environment ensuring they utilise Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), carry out occupational health surveillance and adhere to Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). They may work on their own or part of a team. They must work within budgets, timescales and quality standards to meet customer requirements.

Typical job titles include:

Aviation paint technician Aviation woodwork/lacquer finisher Detail paint finisher Detail painter interior components Marine coatings finisher Marine french polisher Marine painter Marine sprayer Marine surface finisher Paint team member Paint technician Vehicle painter Vehicle sprayer Yacht finisher Yacht painter

Core occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Produce solutions to meet design and customer requirements , including process design, equipment set up and safe systems of work (including personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)), interacting with relevant teams as necessary.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K12 K20 K21

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S10 S13 S16

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 2 Identify industry specifications and characteristics. Report issues impacting on quality and deadlines by interacting with customers, suppliers, technical support staff and other relevant personnel both internally and externally.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K7 K8 K9 K10 K12 K21

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S9 S11 S12 S13

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 3 Prepare coatings and different surfaces for finishing. Set up and use specialist equipment to apply the final surface coating. For example using a static gun, taping, masking and blanking to a safe condition.

K6 K11 K12 K13


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 4 Set up and monitor the working environment in accordance with manufacturers data sheets in various specialist areas and settings. For example, temperature and humidity checks.

K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10 K11 K12 K21

S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 5 Ensure safe access and egress to and from the work area.

K6 K7 K10 K11 K12 K21

S3 S4 S5 S6 S7

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 6 Identify and rectify surface defects using a range of equipment and techniques to troubleshoot as per customer requirements.

K4 K9 K11 K12 K13 K17 K18 K19

S7 S8 S9 S12

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 7 Apply protective surface coatings to protect the surface finish rectifying any issues throughout the process for example, polishes, waxes and nano technologies.

K4 K6 K11 K12 K13 K17 K18

S8 S9 S14

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 8 Carry out performance testing of the surface finish using inspection equipment and visual quality checks for example, wet film/dry film thickness testing, colour matching.

K4 K5 K8 K9 K10 K11 K13 K16 K17 K18

S5 S8 S9 S14

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 9 Ensure facilities (spray booths and equipment) are maintained and compliant with regulations for example local exhaust ventilation (LEV) testing.

K6 K7 K9 K11 K12 K19

S3 S4 S5 S6

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 10 Perform preventative maintenance on finishing equipment. Fault finding and rectifying any common issues to ensure a consistent level of quality.

K9 K11 K12 K15 K19

S3 S4 S5 S6 S15

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 11 Disassemble and store staging, return tools, unused materials and equipment to a clean, safe and reliable condition on completion of surface finishing work operations.

K6 K7 K10 K11 K12 K15 K19 K21

S3 S4 S10 S13

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 12 Undertake quality assurance of applied coatings to meet specification and customer requirements. Facilitate customer inspection and final sign off of finished product. On completion, ensure all masking and blanking is removed and areas are free of loose articles.

K8 K9 K12 K13 K16 K17 K20

S8 S14

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 13 Complete documentation at the relevant stages of the surface finishing work operations and keep colleagues informed. For example, coating application records, data logger records.

K5 K6 K8 K9 K12 K14 K21

S2 S8 S11 S12 S14

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Option duties

Marine Surface Finisher duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 14 Spray application of marine coatings to hulls, superstructures, interiors and components of boats monitoring and rectifying any issues throughout the process.

K23 K26 K27 K28 K31

S24 S25

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 15 Apply marine coatings by hand to hulls, superstructures, interiors and components of boats using a range of techniques. For example, applying anti-foul coatings, applying gel coat or varnishing

K26 K27 K28 K29 K30

S22 S23

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 16 Undertake polishing and finishing on marine components and structures using a range of techniques and equipment to achieve the required finish.

K26 K27 K28 K29 K30

S23 S26

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 17 Set up mobile platforms and staging, working on or near the water adhering to all safety regulations and local requirements.

K22 K23 K24 K25 K26 K27 K28

S17 S18 S19 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Aviation Surface Finisher duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 18 Spray application of aircraft surfaces and flying controls in accordance with customer specification, drawings and aircraft manufacturer’s instructions. Application of specialist protective coatings and treatments as required by the aircraft manufacturer

K32 K33 K34


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 19 Undertake the preparation and refinishing of composite and metal substrate materials used in the aviation sector to include static and lightening protection systems

K32 K33 K34


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 20 Apply the current civil or military aviation regulations and procedures for aircraft refinishing including the recording of the tasks completed and the materials used in accordance with manufacturers data.

K33 K34 K35 K39

S27 S28 S29 S31

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 21 Carry out visual inspection post refinishing for defects, anomalies and log any rectification required in accordance with required standards. Ensure specific requirements such as RVSM (Reduced Vertical Separation Minima requirements) to meet the required standards

K33 K36 K37 K39

S28 S29 S30 S31

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 22 Apply external markings and placards as required by the customer, manufacturer and regulator using a wide variety of processes for example: - hand painting, decals and preprinted vinyl

K33 K34 K38


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Automotive Surface Finisher duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 23 Spray application of coatings across varying product substrates including metals, plastics and carbon fibre.



B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 24 Carry out Spray application to external and internal (i.e., door shuts) parts of a vehicle shell, using a range of various coating types i.e., anti-chip, black out, base coats, top coats, lacquer coats

K40 K41

S34 S35

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 25 Carry out post inspection of finished surfaces looking for defects (seeds, sags, runs etc.) and other anomalies and record such defects using standard paperwork for future rectification

K42 K44


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 26 Carry out detailed masking and de-masking of the product ensuring accuracy and the avoidance of damage during de-mask process.

K43 K44

S36 S37

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 27 Undertake polishing and finishing (‘flat and finish’) on Automotive vehicle’s using a range of techniques and equipment to achieve the required finish.

K40 K45


B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9

Duty 28 Carry out spot repairs and detailing to components and panels of automotive vehicles


S33 S34 S38

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9



K1: Characteristics and features of the surface finishing industry and the surface finisher’s role and placement within the industry, and who surface finishers interact with in order to perform their work operations. Back to Duty

K2: Communication techniques, their role and features, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each when communicating with different customers and stakeholders (internal and external). Organisational processes and procedures regarding communication channels, techniques and how communications and their outcomes are recorded and documented. Back to Duty

K3: Surface finishing terminology and its meaning. Uses of information technology relevant to surface finishing work operations. Back to Duty

K4: Problem-solving and testing techniques and methods used to resolve surface finishing problems relevant to their area of responsibility. Back to Duty

K5: Sourcing of materials and equipment, costing, pricing and budgeting principles and identifying and addressing discrepancies and quality issues. Back to Duty

K6: Organisational policies, processes and procedures for the design, planning and set up, and delivery of surface finishing activities including tools, materials, equipment and environment. Back to Duty

K7: Legislation, regulations, industry guidance, practices and procedures that direct health and safety and environmental sustainability at work and the importance of complying with control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH). Personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE). Back to Duty

K8: The requirement for personal responsibility and regular health surveillance and the importance of properly adhering to disposal of hazardous waste principals ensuring protection of the environment. Back to Duty

K9: Ways of ensuring quality of surface finishing processes and work products, including continuous business improvement techniques and how they are integrated into surface finishing work processes and procedures. Back to Duty

K10: Sources of information and guidance that directs surface finishing work operations, typically including drawings and technical specifications, where this information and guidance can be found and when and where it should be used. Back to Duty

K11: Mathematical techniques and calculations that underpin surface finishing work. Back to Duty

K12: Range and purpose of tools, materials and equipment used when setting up and when performing surface finishing operations, their characteristics, features, their safe use, movement and operation and the consequences of using inappropriate tools and techniques for the correct surface finish. Back to Duty

K13: The relationship between different substrates, materials and complex shapes. Back to Duty

K14: Importance of accurately completing surface finishing documentation and the information that needs to be recorded during different stages of surface finishing work operations. Back to Duty

K15: Importance of restoring the work area to a tidy and safe state on completion of surface finishing work operation and what this entails. Back to Duty

K16: Checks, tests and inspections undertaken before, during and after performing different surface finishing work operations, how these are undertaken and any remedial action required. Back to Duty

K17: The common types of defects (for example, sags, seeds, runs) and contamination effects found at inspection and their potential causes. Back to Duty

K18: Application principles and techniques for different surface finishing materials. Back to Duty

K19: Basic operational principles of surface finishing equipment and their servicing and maintenance requirements. Back to Duty

K20: Importance of customer service and customer service principles and techniques. Back to Duty

K21: Human factors and how they can affect an individual’s performance while carrying out maintenance and surface finishing activities. Back to Duty

K22: Work at height regulations and requirements for safe access and egress from a vessel such as engineering controls (handrails, guard rails, guard wires etc.) and PPE to be worn during the work at height activity and its care and correct use (e.g. harnesses and lanyards). Back to Duty

K23: Process and safety requirements for working in confined spaces. Back to Duty

K24: Regulations and requirements to setup work platforms, staging, towers and mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) and training requirements to ensure safe use. Back to Duty

K25: Requirements of lifting operations and lifting equipment regulation (LOLER) in relation to MEWPs and harnesses. Back to Duty

K26: Working practices, hazards, associated risks and the emergency preparedness when carrying out work in an operational marine environment (including on or near the water) including the use of electrical power tools and requirements for PPE such as life jackets. Back to Duty

K27: Flexible work practice and how marine paint operations effect the workflow and schedule of other trades to accommodate work processes and COSHH requirements such as to meet product overcoating timeframes. Back to Duty

K28: Local restrictions in relation to work operations such as site of special scientific interest (SSSI) restrictions in harbours and rivers and consideration for environmental protection of watercourses. Back to Duty

K29: Products, techniques and various methods of applying coatings by hand such as roll and tip and hand varnishing. Back to Duty

K30: Products, techniques, requirements and various methods of polishing and finishing such as French polishing and gel coat finishing. Back to Duty

K31: Products, techniques and requirements for spraying large complex shapes, structures and components, including the need to maintain a wet edge whilst spraying. Team-based application methods such as multiple sprayers, pot men and spotters to safely spray hulls and large structures. Back to Duty

K32: Specific coatings and metal treatments used in aviation painting, including types of finish, measurement of coating thickness and the application techniques for matt and gloss finishes. Back to Duty

K33: Processes used to prepare an aircraft for refinishing including aircraft bonding, inspection techniques and protection of vital components. Back to Duty

K34: Composites and substrates used in aviation and the preparation techniques used with these materials. Back to Duty

K35: Military or civil regulations as applicable to aircraft refinishing. Back to Duty

K36: Critical areas on an aircraft and how these can be affected by refinishing including Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) requirements. Back to Duty

K37: Inspection techniques to inspect an aircraft post paint strip such as inspecting for corrosion. Types of corrosion, treatment of corrosion and techniques used for inspecting for delamination. Back to Duty

K38: Processes used in applying and positioning both mandatory and customer selected external markings. Back to Duty

K39: Process and safety requirements for working in confined spaces. Back to Duty

K40: Properties of substrates related to the automotive sector including plastics, metals and carbon fibres. Impact of the substrate on the surface finish, including changes in colour match and variations in techniques. Back to Duty

K41: Types of coatings used in automotive including anti-chip blackouts, base coats and their characteristics and application techniques. Back to Duty

K42: The defect recording, processing and completion requirements required at automotive paint inspection stages. Back to Duty

K43: Methods used for masking out product, types of masking materials, application techniques. Back to Duty

K44: Methods of demasking, common concerns and defects arising from incorrect demasking. Back to Duty

K45: Techniques, tools, materials and methods used in polishing and finishing of automotive vehicle finishes. Back to Duty

K46: Types of spot repair. Techniques, tools, materials and methods used to carry out spot repairs. Back to Duty


S1: Use communication and interpersonal techniques and terminology to aid interactions with colleagues, contractors, suppliers and others. Back to Duty

S2: Deliver appropriate customer service principles and techniques, in accordance with organisational policy and processes. Back to Duty

S3: Maintain the safety of self along with others by following safe systems of work and complying with all relevant legislation, regulations, codes of practice and other relevant information and guidance. Back to Duty

S4: Consider sustainability and environmental impacts when planning and performing surface finishing work operations. Back to Duty

S5: Follow approved industry and manufacturer’s guidance and techniques, operational work methods, practices, processes, principles and procedures when undertaking different surface finishing work operations, within required time frames. Back to Duty

S6: Select, use, and store resources safely and correctly including tools, materials, equipment, machinery and consumables. Back to Duty

S7: Carry out the correct preparation techniques when working with a substrate. Back to Duty

S8: Follow quality improvement principles, techniques, and methods and identify any areas for improvement, consulting internally and externally as appropriate. Back to Duty

S9: Conduct required tests and checks when performing surface finishing work operations. Back to Duty

S10: Restore work area to a safe and tidy condition in accordance with organisational and legislative policy and procedures. Back to Duty

S11: Complete records and documentation relevant to surface finishing work operations, in accordance with requirements such as legislative or regulatory. Back to Duty

S12: Check and identify surface defects and contamination issues to company and industry standards, using appropriate and relevant documentation. Back to Duty

S13: Dispose of waste materials, in accordance with safe working and environmental practices and approved procedures. Back to Duty

S14: Carry out required rework using approved materials and techniques. Back to Duty

S15: Perform routine maintenance and servicing on relevant equipment. Back to Duty

S16: Deal with any problems that may present themselves within their own area of responsibility. Back to Duty

S17: Adhere to work at height regulations and requirements for safe access and egress from or around a vessel and utilise appropriate PPE when working at height ensuring pre-use checks, operation and maintenance activities are carried out correctly. Back to Duty

S18: Setup work platforms to requirements and current regulations including staging, towers and mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) to ensure safe use. Back to Duty

S19: Carry out lifting operations in accordance with lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations (LOLER). Back to Duty

S20: Identify hazards and control their associated risks when working on or near the water, using techniques such as risk assessment. Use emergency preparedness procedures when carrying out work in an operational marine environment (including on or near the water). Back to Duty

S21: Adapt working practices to support marine paint operations which affect the workflow. Schedule work to accommodate other trades processes and COSHH requirements such as to meet product overcoating timeframes. Back to Duty

S22: Use products, techniques and various methods of applying coatings by hand such as roll and tip and hand varnishing. Back to Duty

S23: Use the correct products, techniques and various methods of polishing and finishing such as French polishing and gel coat finishing. Back to Duty

S24: Use products, techniques, methods and equipment for spraying complex shapes, structures and components such as maintaining a wet edge whilst spraying and team-based application methods (multiple sprayers, pot men and spotters to safely spray hulls and large structures). Back to Duty

S25: Set up spray facilities in accordance with the manufacturer’s product data sheets and differing temperature and humidity requirements when applying coatings to wooden, composite or metal vessels. Back to Duty

S26: Carry out masking and demasking of large or complex shapes, without causing surface finish defects during the demask process. Back to Duty

S27: Follow the approved ground handling procedures in place to ensure the aircraft is correctly positioned in the hangar, ensuring safe working systems are in place to allow access prior to commencement of agreed works. Back to Duty

S28: Comply with the manufacturer’s guidance notes on specific aircraft types using the Aircraft Maintenance Manual, structural repair manual and procedures when preparing and finishing aircraft substrates along with in-house quality documentation and procedures. Back to Duty

S29: Inspect, identify and report surface defects, contamination and quality issues using appropriate and relevant documentation and in accordance with the manufacturer’s and the regulators requirements. Back to Duty

S30: Complete relevant task staging documentation to the work carried out, ensure this has been signed for and any materials used recorded and provide reference for technical data used. Back to Duty

S31: Inspect an aircraft, recording and rectifying listed defects using relevant documentation. Comply with technical data and measuring methods during the inspection, for example dent and buckle charts, structural repair manual and standard practices. Back to Duty

S32: Interpret and understand Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and customer data to apply and position external markings, both mandatory and customer selected. Back to Duty

S33: Use materials, equipment and techniques to achieve acceptable finishes on substrates such as plastics, metals and composites used in automotive manufacture. Back to Duty

S34: Apply spray coatings across varying parts of a vehicle shell including vertical, horizontal and internal aspects of the vehicle. Back to Duty

S35: Apply various types of spray coating, such as base coats, lacquer coats, anti-chip. Back to Duty

S36: Carry out masking of product. Back to Duty

S37: Demask products without causing surface finish defects. Back to Duty

S38: Select the materials and methods and complete polishing and finishing of vehicle coatings. Back to Duty


B1: Embrace a safety culture and situational awareness including being hazard and risk aware when working. Back to Duty

B2: Embrace an environmentally sustainable working culture, taking responsibility for the appropriate use of resources and own actions. Back to Duty

B3: Demonstrate commitment to quality, commercial awareness and continuous improvement. Back to Duty

B4: Focus on the requirements of the customer (internal and external), seeking to provide outstanding customer service, meeting customer requirements. Back to Duty

B5: Work individually and as part of a team, communicating at different levels to achieve positive work results. Back to Duty

B6: Treat everyone with respect and courtesy, valuing diversity. Back to Duty

B7: Motivated, meticulous, proactive and adaptable, with a focus on continuous personal development and knowledge sharing. Back to Duty

B8: Manage own time to complete work operations within the confines of job responsibility. Back to Duty

B9: Demonstrate due consideration of human factors in performing maintenance and surface finishing activities. Back to Duty


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Professional recognition

This standard aligns with the following professional recognition:

  • Institute for Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST) for Marine Technician (MarTech) associate member

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



this apprenticeship will be reviewed in accordance with our change request policy.

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 3
Reference: ST0963
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 24/03/2023
Approved for delivery: 23 March 2023
Route: Engineering and manufacturing
Typical duration to gateway: 42 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £24000
Options: Marine Surface Finisher, Aviation Surface Finisher, Automotive Surface Finisher
LARS Code: 703
EQA Provider: Ofqual
Employers involved in creating the standard: Pendennis Shipyard, Berthon Boat Company Ltd, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Sunseeker International Ltd, Harrods Aviation, RAS Completions, Toyota

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 23/03/2023 Not set Not set

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