Jodee Davey worked as an accountant for 25 years before turning to a trade.
She is one of three first-year female painting and decorating apprentices at Granville TAFE, and said her colleagues' reaction to the career change was "mixed".
"I think there's an admiration when you do a career change," she said.
"Some will in the back of their mind go 'she's got rocks in her head', but some people think it's good for you to have a go.
"I chose painting and decorating because it was more in line with my strengths and abilities."
Granville TAFE has received funding to offer a five-day trade readiness program for women interested in the course.
The program aims to add to the 13 per cent of female trade apprentices in NSW and stop low course retention rates by giving applicants the chance to try a trade before they enrol.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research figures show less than 2 per cent of automotive, engineering, construction or electro-technology trade workers in NSW are women.
Fellow painting and decorating apprentice Samantha Conley, 19, is not surprised.
"Being on a job where there's a house getting renovated you can see lots of plumbers and carpenters coming in, but I've never seen another girl painter or one in the other trades," she said.
Samantha spent two years as a hairdressing apprentice on half her current wage before switching to painting, where skills like diplomacy and attention to detail are as important as brush strokes.
"A lot of girls can do this work," she said.
"Coming out of school, I thought for construction or painting you had to be a real blokey bloke, like my older brother and Dad.
"It's a bit intimidating at first because you've got that image in your head, but once you go and do it, it's not that hard."
■ Details: tafensw.edu.au/trade-readiness.