Signmaker Kaihanga Tohu

Signmakers design, print and install signs in a range of materials, for indoor and outdoor use.

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Signmakers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss design ideas with clients
  • create designs, lettering and layouts using a computer or by hand 
  • make neon or illuminated (LED) signs
  • put signs onto a variety of surfaces, including billboards, vehicles and buildings
  • seal finished surfaces with a chemical spray and clear vinyl
  • clean and maintain equipment
  • prepare quotes.

Physical Requirements

Signmakers need to have good hand-eye co-ordination, normal colour vision and a reasonable level of fitness as some jobs require climbing and balancing to erect a sign.

Signmakers who erect signs on high billboards or buildings must be comfortable working at heights.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for signmakers includes:

  • painting
  • printing
  • carpentry, fabrication, electrical or metal work
  • graphic or CAD design.

Personal Qualities

Signmakers need to be:

  • creative, and good at layout and design
  • good at communicating with clients and interpreting their design briefs
  • able to work to deadlines 
  • good at working in a team environment
  • practical, with a hands-on approach to their work
  • accurate and detailed.


Signmakers need to have knowledge of:

  • art, design and layout techniques
  • computer graphic design programmes
  • hand-lettering techniques for traditional signmaking
  • paints and solvents, and how they react on different surfaces
  • techniques for applying vinyl signs
  • how to put up scaffolding and signs.

Signmakers who run their own companies also need business and marketing skills.



  • usually work regular office hours, with some early mornings, evenings or weekends 
  • work in workshops and studios, and may work indoors or outdoors erecting signs
  • work in all weather conditions, and work around chemicals such as paints and sprays.

Signmakers can earn around $44K-$70K per year.

Pay for signmakers varies depending on experience.

  • New signmakers usually earn  minimum wage or a little above.
  • Signmakers with one to five years' experience usually earn up to $50,000.
  • Signmakers with more than five years' experience can earn between $50,000 and $70,000.

Sources: Trade Me, 'Trade Me Salary Guide', 2018; and Competenz, 2018.

Signmakers may progress to set up their own signmaking business.

Years Of Training

4 years of training required.

To become a signmaker you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Signmaking (Level 4). 

Competenz oversees signmaker apprenticeships.