Signwriter

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Signwriters produce signs by hand and with machines for display on shops, businesses and company vehicles.

Salary range: £18,000 to £25,000

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How to become a signwriter

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a subject like graphic design.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could do an A level in art and design or graphic design, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in design.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Work

You may be able to start as a signwriter’s assistant and learn on the job.

Direct application

You could apply directly to work as a signwriter. There are no set requirements, but it’ll help if you’ve got a qualification and experience in printing, reprographics, laser cutting or graphic design.

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Career tips

It’s important to keep a portfolio of your design work to show employers what you can do when you’re looking for jobs.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • discussing with your client what type of signs they want
  • preparing and laying out designs and lettering
  • measuring and calculating letter sizes and graphics 
  • preparing surfaces
  • applying paint backgrounds by brush, spray or roller
  • tracing designs onto wood, metal or glass surfaces
  • hand-painting designs and lettering using special brushes, enamel paint and gold leaf
  • repainting and retouching signs on site
  • using traditional techniques and modern materials like vinyl graphics

Working environment

You could work at a client’s business, in a workshop or in a creative studio.

Your working environment may be noisy, outdoors some of the time, at height and physically demanding.

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Career path and progression

You could move into work for TV, film and theatre. 

You could also combine this job with signmaking.