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Summary of occupation

Signwriters design, make, paint and install signs for a variety of commercial, industrial and practical purposes. They consult with their client about the type of sign they need, select the materials required, then plan and design the required piece. They may draw or paint signs, make three-dimensional lettering for signs, make screen printed signs, and bend glass to make illuminated signs. They cut board and metal to size, prepare the surfaces so that lettering and other designs can be applied, and clean the sign once it has been manufactured. They may also seal the finished sign with a spray or clear vinyl material.

ANZSCO description: Designs, fabricates and paints signs for  displays, buildings, hoardings, boats and structures. Registration or  licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Signmaker
Specialisations: Sign Manufacturer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A signwriter needs:

  • a creative flair and an eye for detail
  • strong visual and spacial awareness
  • organisational skills
  • a knack for design, layout and colour
  • the ability to follow and interpret instructions
  • the ability to work to tight deadlines
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Working conditions

Signwriters may work in workshops or studios developing designs, then visit clients in shops and other businesses to install the finished product. They work in a variety of weather conditions, and may be exposed to paint or chemical fumes. They usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours at times, such as to install signs for businesses. Signwriters may work individually or as part of a design and installation team.

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Salary details

On average, signwriters can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a signwriter develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

Earnings for small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, and the level of demand for their services.

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Tools and technologies

Signwriters may use traditional enamel paints and paintbrushes to paint signs by hand, or they may use computer-adided design (CAD) software to produce two or three-dimensional signs or illumnated signs. They also use drawing and measuring equipment to plan their work. They work with materials such as aluminium, glass, perspex and plastic, stainless steel, wood and vinyl. They use ladders, scaffolding and hand and power tools to install the signs, and may also use some electrical equipment to install illuminated signs. They also use scanning, printing and laminating technology to transfer images onto their signs.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a signwriter you usually have to complete an apprenticeship. The signwriter (sign manufacturer) apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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