Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2018: < 5,000
Median weekly earnings: $901 to $1000
Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
If you have a knack for design and would like to channel this talent into a career path, then you might consider signwriting.

There are currently around 500 signwriters employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the property and business services industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This median age of employees in this occupation is 40 years old.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Signwriter

Accredited (Award)

  • Signwriters design, paint and build signs even commercial displays on various surfaces including brick, metal, wood and plastic. They do this to attract attention and to provide information. Their work ranges from the advertisements painted on business windows to chalkboard menus in your favourite cafe.

    Artistic and CreativePractical and Manual

  • TAFE SA offers Certificate III in Signs and Graphics to apprentice signwriters.

  • Most signwriters are self-employed. Others work for signwriting firms or industrial and commercial firms. Most jobs are in metropolitan areas. With over half of signwriters in the State work in marketing and business management the need for training is ever increasing. It is a small occupation and competition for apprenticeship places is strong.

    Technological changes and computer-aided production have significantly reduced the workforce. The demand for signwriters, which is influenced by levels of business activity and the size of advertising budgets is projected to remain steady in the medium term.

  • After signwriters and their clients reach an agreement on matters such as concept, design and cost, the signwriting process can get underway. Signwriters prepare their designs either by hand or computer and then go about selecting the materials that will be used. The surfaces they work on also need to be prepared, which means ensuring they are clean and that the correct chalks, paints or computerised designs are selected. Next, computerised designs and lettering are printed, or designs and letters drawn and painted, while the design of logos also is an important part of the job role. At this stage, work boards may also need to be cut to size and framed, and surfaces finished or sealed with chemical sprays.

  • Designs and styles may be specified by the client, it's useful to have creative flair and the ability to listen to and interpret other peoples' ideas. As computer manufactured signs are becoming increasingly popular in the signwriting industry, a desire or willingness to work with computers would also be an added advantage. Multi skilled signwriters usually have a talent for one or more type of signs - neon, electric, pylon, painted wood or vinyl, and depending on their area of specialisation, may also have painting, electrical and airbrush skills.

    To attract as wide a client base as possible, it is important for signwriters to create a portfolio of their best work. Signwriters divide their time between working in a studio or office where they design and draw plans for signs, and on site where they meet with clients and construct signs. A studio or office environment should be well lit and ventilated, and consideration should be given to any safety aspects which might be harmful to the signwriter during work.

  • On site conditions vary considerably, and signwriters may work indoors or outdoors, on scaffolding or ladders, and sometimes in physically awkward positions, depending on the nature of the job. Employment opportunities exist in signwriting firms and government departments, but with extensive business training behind you, you can also venture into self employment. Being your own boss, points out that there is, ''enormous potential to be self employed.'' But be cautious, small business training is essential. It will largely be up to these self employed individuals to generate business for themselves. This is very much an industry where the ability to promote one's skills is really important and you'll need to be prepared to 'get out there' and promote your work to interested individuals. Although running your own business can be stressful, the hours are more flexible, but average 42.1 hours per week. The capabilities of self employed signwriters will invariably have to include keeping up to date with the latest industry trends, bookkeeping, customer service and advertising skills.

    For further information, contact:

    Master Painters Australia
    South Australia Association
    PO Box 2435 Burnside SA 5066
    Office Hours: Monday to Friday - 9:00am to 5:00pm
    Mobile: 0414 351 756
    Natalie Cunningham
    Operations Manager