Signwriter/Signmaker Careers

How to become signwriter/signmaker

What does a signwriter/signmaker do?

Signwriters/signmakers design, make and install signs used for a wide variety of premises, for vehicle bodies and for flexible PVC curtains used on lorries.

Modern methods of signmaking use digital technology - for example, producing lettering by microprocessor and using screen printing for posters, or making glass fibre letters from moulds.Other techniques involve cutting out and building up rigid plastic letters or logos into 3D shapes. The types of material used include vinyl, perspex, plastic, metal, and glass, which is used for illuminated or electronic signs.

Some signwriters still use traditional methods. They plan out the work and measure and calculate the letter size. They then prepare the surface, apply the paint background by brush, spray or roller, and write the lettering using special brushes and signwriter's enamel paint.

Some jobs involve installing signs on site, drafting contracts, preparing planning applications and designing signs.

What's the working environment like for signwriters and signmakers?

Most people working in this area work 40 hours, Monday - Friday. Evening and weekend overtime may be available. Part-time work may also be possible.

Traditional signwriting and sign installation involves working outdoors, sometimes at heights, and in all weathers. Some signwriters work in factories or studios.

The work may include a lot of standing. Some strength is required when lifting signs.

Signwriters may spend short periods away from home, and a driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a signwriter/signmaker?

You should have:

  • drawing skills - with the ability to work neatly, cleanly and precisely

  • good colour vision - for mixing and selecting colours

  • numeracy - for measuring and calculating letter size when planning out work

  • literacy - required for arranging lettering in logical order, spelling signs and form filling

  • a flexible attitude towards learning new skills, as techniques change rapidly

  • creative flair - where the job includes design work.


Signwriter/signmaker career opportunities

Employment opportunities exist with firms of sign manufacturers or signmakers. There may also be opportunities for self-employment, either independently or as part of a franchise operation.

Other employers include high street print/design firms, and firms of engravers. Signwriters are employed throughout the country; and increasingly, abroad.

Whilst there is strong competition for job vacancies, opportunities are stable.

In medium and large sized firms there are promotion opportunities for suitably qualified people to supervisory and managerial posts.

Signwriters/signmakers can specialise in different areas within the industry, working as estimators, process planners or quality technicians.


Further information

If you would like to know anything about signs that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Sign and Graphics Association
5 Orton Enterprise Centre
Bakewell Road
Orton Southgate
Tel: 01733 230033

Minerva House
Bruntland Road
AB12 4QL
Tel: 01224 787800

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St

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