Signwriters apply the lettering for various signs on windows, building contractor signboards, walls of buildings, trucks, etc.

Signwriters prepare rough sketches from specifications and plan the lettering. They measure the surface onto which the lettering is to be placed and mark the height and position of the letters in chalk to ensure correct spacing. They then paint the sign, spreading the paint evenly and making good outlines and apply a second coat of paint when the first is dry.

Signwriters are frequently called upon to place signs on shop windows. Different techniques are used to paint on glass. Gold leaf is applied for gold lettering, which is usually backed with paint. Signwriters also paint logos and simple illustrations in some cases.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate
Some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to Study

Prospective signwriters usually undergo a probation period of three months with an employer to demonstrate their aptitude for the task. Training consists of theoretical and practical work:

  • Theoretical training: at a TVET College
  • Practical training: in-service training under supervision of a qualified signwriter
Duration of course: 3 years
Final examination: a compulsory trade test


  • book and magazine publishers
  • building contractors
  • commercial printing plants
  • graphic art painters and decorators
  • government departments e.g. government printing works
  • manufacturers and other firms that do their own printing
  • newspaper plants
  • private signwriting businesses
  • stationery and envelope manufacturers
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Further Information

Any of the above-mentioned potential employers

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a signwriting company
  • speak to a signwriter about this career
  • contact the Department of Labour about learnership possibilities in your area

Programmes by Study Institutions

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