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Here’s Why There’s No Federal Curriculum for Signmaking

Plus, why you should consider buying materials locally, as explained in this month’s “Ask Signs of the Times.”




Is buying locally a big consideration on material purchases?

Buying locally can be a big consideration in several ways. First, receiving materials bought locally generally happens sooner and with cheaper delivery costs than from farther away. Next, sometimes local suppliers offer more competitive prices on certain items. Finally, buying locally is a way to support your immediate business community, and if you’re giving a local supplier your business, they may be more likely to come calling the next time they need signs.

What are some good methods for avoiding burnout? This business is so fast paced and it can wear on you if you let it.

Our Women in Signs award-winning “Business of Signs” columnist has a great piece in this issue (click here) about preventing burnout in your exemplary employees, but it’s important not to overcook yourself, either. It can be challenging and it’s not always possible (due to certain deadlines), but being willing to adopt the attitude “the work will be there in the morning” will help you reduce late hours. And then, make sure you “leave work at work” while at home or out relaxing. Real vacations — away from the office for days or a week or more every so often — are also vital.

What percentage of sign companies have their own installation crews, versus outsourced?

According to last month’s Big Survey, 46% of our respondents report subcontracting installation, meaning 54% have their own crews (see Big Survey 2023). Further, 39% say their three-year overall subcontracting trend — including more than just installation — is increasing, while it’s decreasing for only 11%. In addition, 41% reported no change, while 9% claim they subcontract nothing at all.

Why is there no federal curriculum technical high schools can adopt? It can’t be that difficult to combine drafting, business, welding, carpentry, sheet metal and graphic design into a single curriculum with concentrations in each category.

We’ll take this question in two parts. First, there are no high school federal curriculum requirements for any subject. High school curriculum decisions are made at the state government level. The second part of the question reflects the “collective wish” of sign companies everywhere, who desire pre-trained new hires to walk in with high competency on day one. But, as the saying goes, “If wishes were ponies, then beggars would ride.” At this moment in time, no major or national training schools exist for signwork as they do for the plumbing, electrical and construction trades. Apprenticeships and intern programs are the closest thing available.

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