Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Marketing & Advertising

What you will do:

You may:

  • discuss with your client what type of signs they want
  • prepare and lay out designs and lettering
  • measure and calculate letter sizes and graphics
  • prepare surfaces
  • apply paint backgrounds by brush, spray or roller
  • trace designs onto wood, metal or glass surfaces
  • hand-paint designs and lettering using special brushes, enamel paint and gold leaf
  • repaint and retouch signs on site
  • use traditional techniques and modern materials like vinyl graphics


You’ll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creative skills)
  • analytical thinking skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • persistence and determination
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Signwriter, you’ll want to focus on subjects that develop your artistic and graphic design skills. Signwriters create hand-painted signs and various visual displays. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Art and Design: Art and Design provides a strong foundation in visual arts, including drawing, painting, and design. This is particularly important as signwriting involves creating visually appealing and eye-catching designs.
  2. Graphic Design: If your school offers Graphic Design, consider taking it. This subject focuses on digital design, layout, and typography, which are important aspects of modern signwriting.
  3. English: Good communication skills are important for understanding client needs and effectively conveying messages through signs.
  4. Mathematics: While not directly related to signwriting, a basic understanding of mathematics can be helpful for measuring and planning the layout of signs.
  5. Design and Technology: This subject can provide valuable skills in working with tools and materials, which can be useful for creating and installing signs.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in digital design tools and software is increasingly important in signwriting. An understanding of computer graphics programs is beneficial.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

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


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


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


You could get into this job through an advanced signage technician apprenticeship.


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.

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.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 42-44 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends.

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.

Career Path & Progression:

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

You could also combine this job with signmaking.