Noah Kanter on Why He Chose a Career in Painting and Why College and the Trades Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

This summer, PPC hit the road for two days with Noah Kanter, a contractor serving residential customers in northern Vermont. In this article, we talk with him about why he chose a career in painting, why it’s important for contractors to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and why college and the skilled trades do not need to be mutually exclusive.

What was it about painting that made it an attractive career choice for you?

I realized that I actually enjoyed the act of painting. I liked the physicality of it. I liked changing the world around me. People love the difference in their homes when they’re painted. And there’s always demand for it. People always want it and there are not enough people doing it. So, you put all of that together and it’s a great way to make a living.

You graduated from college but ended up choosing painting as your career. What would you say to those who think college and skilled trades are mutually exclusive?

I don’t think just because you went to college means you shouldn’t go into the skilled trades. And I don’t mean to be divisive here. I don’t want to elevate the skilled trades over college, but I don’t think college should necessarily be elevated over the skilled trades either. I think you can do both and that’s an okay choice. I know that my painting career and my painting business has benefited because I did go to college.

How is that?

You know, more education is never a bad thing. I think spending time in college helped me learn to think abstractly. Just broadening your horizons a little bit. That’s not going to hurt you going forward. I think it can pay dividends in almost any lifestyle you choose.

You’re a big believer in a healthy lifestyle, and making sure you get regular workouts outside of the job. Why is that, and how do you manage to fit it into your busy day?

As a paint contractor I make money with my body. If I’m not feeling good, if I’m not functioning at the highest level, I can’t earn as well, I can’t work as well, I can’t deliver for my clients. So to me it’s really important to wake up early at least a few times a week and do some sort of strength or conditioning or flexibility.

It’s easy to think that because I work physically hard with my body all day, working out in the morning could make the rest of the day a drag, but it actually has the opposite effect. Days when I wake up early, go for a long run or a swim, I am just on fire the rest of the day. Mentally and physically, I feel better. So to me it’s really important and I think if you wanna have a long career in this line of work, you need to treat your body really well.

Noah Kanter is the owner of Nth Degree Painting in Burlington, Vermont. See more stories in our series of interviews with Noah.