What they do

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.

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.

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a sign writer, you usually have to undertake a sign writer apprenticeship. The apprenticeship usually takes 36 to 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.