Sign maker

A sign maker


Sign makers design and develop signs for a variety of uses such as flyers, traffic signs, billboards and business signs. They use different materials and techniques and if necessary they install the sign on site. Furthermore they also perform maintenance and repairs.

The duties of a sign maker include, but are not limited to:

  • Discussing client requirements and determine the digital files needed.
  • Determining the most suitable materials to use for the sign, including vinyl, timber, glass, metal, plastic or electronics.
  • Preparing the sign surface by cleaning or sanding.
  • Digitally sketching the design.
  • Making adjustments to the design with client before finalising the sign.
  • Preparing the paints, oils, varnish or enamel required.
  • Applying vinyl decals by carefully positioning, peeling and laying.
  • Monitoring the order workflow.
  • Maintaining a safe working environment, especially when working at height.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to sign maker:

traffic sign maker
sign installer
signboard writer
road sign maker
sign writer
sign maintenance worker
signboard maker
advertising sign maker
road sign installer
road sign maintenance worker

Working conditions

Sign makers can work at a client’s business, in a workshop or in a creative studio. Their working environment may be at height, outdoors some of the time, noisy, physically demanding and dusty.

Minimum qualifications

No formal educational credential is generally required to work as a sign maker.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Sign maker is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Sign maker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to sign maker.

make-up and hair designer
man-made fiber spinner
screen making technician
aircraft fuel system operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of sign maker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of sign maker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

interior designer
lighting designer
flying director
sound designer
pyrotechnic designer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of sign maker.

  • Graphic design: The techniques to create a visual representation of ideas and messages.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of sign maker.

  • Design package: Develop and design the form and structure of a product’s package.
  • Monitor developments in technology used for design: Identify and explore recent developments in technology and materials used in the live performance industry, in order to create an up-to-date technical background for one’s personal design work.
  • Perform quality control of design during a run: Control and ensure the quality of design results during a run.
  • Develop creative ideas: Developing new artistic concepts and creative ideas.
  • Conduct research on trends in design: Conduct research on present and future evolutions and trends in design, and associated target market features.
  • Present detailed design proposals: Prepare and present detailed design suggestions for a specific production to a mixed group of people, including technical, artistic and management staff.
  • Collaborate with designers: Communicate and collaborate with fellow designers in order to coordinate new products and designs.
  • Develop design concept: Research information to develop new ideas and concepts for the design of a specific production. Read scripts and consult directors and other production staff members, in order to develop design concepts and plan productions.
  • Plan new packaging designs: Come up with new ideas concerning the size, shape and colour of packaging.
  • Develop design plans: Develop design plans by using computer-aided-design (CAD); work in accordance with budget estimates; organise and conduct meetings with clients.
  • Make numerical calculations: Work with numbers and perform complex calculations. An understanding of the basics of maths is crucial.
  • Draw design sketches: Create rough pictures to assist in creating and communicating design concepts.
  • Develop design ideas cooperatively: Share and develop design ideas with the artistic team. Conceptualise new ideas independently and with others. Present your idea, gain feedback and take it into account. Make sure the design fits with the work of other designers.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sign maker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Printing techniques: The techniques and processes to reproduce text and images using a master form or template such as letterpress printing, gravure, and laser printing.
  • Types of paint: Varieties of paint and chemicals used in their composition.
  • Types of moulded fibres: Field of information which distinguishes different kinds of moulded fibres such as thickwall, transfer moulded, thermoformed, and processed fibre types.
  • Printing media: Specific techniques related to various printing surfaces such plastics, metal, glass, textiles, wood, and paper.
  • Maintenance of printing machines: Upkeep procedures and technical working of machines that produce printed graphical material.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sign maker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Supervise work on design planning: Supervise the work in progress at the design stage and on site.
  • Operate monogram-printing device: Set up and operate monogram-printing device to print brand on cigarette paper at specified position.
  • Prepare equipment for textile printing: Manufacture screens and prepare printing paste. Use tools and equipment associated with screen printing. Select screen types and mesh for appropriate substrates. Develop, dry and finish screen image. Prepare screens, test screens and printed quality.
  • Translate requirement concepts into visual design: Develop visual design from given specifications and requirements, based on the analysis of the scope and target audience. Create a visual representation of ideas such as logos, website graphics, digital games and layouts.
  • Cut glass: Use glass cutting tools or diamond blades to cut pieces out of glass plates, including mirrors.
  • Manipulate glass: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of glass.
  • Paint ship decks: Detect and remove rust using primers and sealants; paint vessel decks to fend off oxidation process.
  • Translate artistic concepts to technical designs: Cooperate with the artistic team in order to facilitate the transition from the creative vision and its artistic concepts to a technical design.
  • Process man-made fibres: Converting synthetic granule into man-made-fibres such as filament yarns or staple fibre yarns.
  • Collaborate in the development of marketing strategies: Work together with a group of professionals to develop marketing strategies performing market analysis and financial viability while staying aligned with the company’s goals.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.

ISCO group and title

7316 – Sign writers, decorative painters, engravers and etchers

  1. Sign maker – ESCO
  2. Signmaker | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. How to become a signmaker – Salary, Qualifications, Skills & Reviews – SEEK
  4. Featured image: By whereisthered08 – Sign maker extraordinaire, CC BY 2.0
Last updated on October 5, 2022

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