What is a Sign Specialist Electrician?

A sign specialist electrician is a very specific type of electrical professional who works on signs. These skilled workers are considered electricians, but depending on where they work may or may not be licensed in the same way as residential and commercial electricians. They often work on a variety of signs, from those that are simple but require lighting to high-tech video signs. A sign specialist may work indoors or outdoors, and the work is often physically demanding and sometimes dangerous.

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Duties and Responsibilities of a Sign Specialist

If you have been looking into trade careers and are drawn to electrical work, consider becoming a sign specialist electrician. These skilled professionals are definitely specialists, because they work on electrical systems related to signs only. Examples of signs these workers may install or repair include electronic billboards along roadways, signs mounted on buildings and electronic scoreboards at sporting venues. Some of the duties of a sign specialist include:

  • Installing signs
  • Maintaining signs
  • Diagnosing and fixing signs
  • Installing and fixing lighting used with signs
  • Making upgrades to signs and lighting
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Work Environment

The work of a sign specialist electrician is physical and demanding. You need to be strong and physically fit. You may need to fit into awkward or tight spaces, lift heavy objects and use a variety of tools and equipment to do this job. You will also find that you often have to work up high, either climbing ladders to get to a sign or being elevated in a bucket truck. The ability to work at height without fear is essential. Also expect to be working outdoors in all kinds of weather in this job, including cold and hot temperatures, wind, snow and rain.

Because of the physical nature of working as a sign specialist, the outdoor work with sometimes inclement weather and working at height, this job can be dangerous. Accidents are always possible, including falls, electrocution or being injured by equipment. It is essential to follow safety guidelines and to wear appropriate gear as a sign electrician, but even so it comes with risks of danger and physical harm.

Education, Training and Licensing

Licensing requirements for sign specialist electricians varies by state and local jurisdiction. In some locations you may need to go through the same steps as a residential or commercial electrician, becoming licensed and getting a certain number of training hours in sign work. In other states or cities you may be licensed separately from residential and commercial electricians.

In nearly every case you will need to go through the steps of an apprenticeship in order to become a sign specialist. Union and non-union apprenticeships provide you with all the requirements you need to get licensed, including classroom instruction hours. As an apprentice you will work with a sign electrician and get paid as you train. Once your train in is done, you will have to apply for licensing, which usually includes passing an examination.

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Salary and Job Outlook

For all types of electricians salaries are good and job outlooks are strong. Job growth for electricians generally is nine percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 60,000 new jobs will be added to the market between 2016 and 2026, including jobs for sign specialist electricians. The average salary for an electrician is $54,110, but top earners make over $90,000 per year.

A job as a sign specialist is challenging, interesting and requires good physical fitness and strength. If you are up for the challenge, start your new career off by looking into local apprenticeship programs. With a few years of paid training and classroom work you will be ready to be a licensed sign electrician.

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