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Is education the answer?

Discussion in 'Polls' started by rtaylorcox, Oct 9, 2014.

Would certified education add credibility to the signage industry?

Poll closed Nov 18, 2014.
  1. Extremely Likely

    11 vote(s)
  2. Very Likely

    12 vote(s)
  3. Slightly Likely

    15 vote(s)
  4. Not at all Likely

    19 vote(s)
  1. rtaylorcox

    rtaylorcox New Member

    Oct 8, 2014
    More and more the buzz seems to be that the signage industry is loosing its credibility at the hands of a growing number of unqualified workers out there. Is it a lack of education that births these unqualified sign makers? To restore the integrity of the signage trade, a solution could be to offer worthwhile seminars/workshops/webinars and/or conferences that result in certifications.

    So I ask....

    How likely are you to attend an industry education event about a new product, service and/or trend?
    Not Likely
    If there was an industry training being offered that promised to give you information that would increase your bottom line, would you register for the training?
    What specific areas do individuals need to be trained on in order to make them qualified signage workers?
  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Education is the basis for anything to run and operate smoothly. Without fundamentals in your little bag of goodies, you really have nothing to pull from when confronted with everyday questions or requests.

    I doubt if someone doesn't want to pay $7.50 to belong to this forum a month, you're gonna have much luck getting people to come to a seminar without a lotta other incentives, like food, drinks, fun and giveaways. Distance is always a problem, unless you can offer them in almost every town up there and down here, alike. There are numerous seminars, classes and so on at all the sign conventions. Who goes ?? The ones that already know what they're doing and honing their skills some more. Again, some wannabee is not gonna shell out the money to learn something they have no knowledge or in the first place. They came in dumb and they're gonna remain dumb, but at the same time act and pretend to be a professional while bringing down the standards, prices and integrity of this industry.

    If people came up through the ranks as in years ago, we wouldn't be in this mess asking for credentials, because you couldn't perform without them years ago.

    I see in my state, to be in the construction trade, you must register your business with the state or face possible hefty fines. That's all well and good for the honest people, but the illegals and dumb ones won't comply and they simply don't have the manpower to enforce this new tax, put upon the honest working man.
    Let's hear more of your proposals and what you have to offer. :cool1:
  3. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    Olympia, WA
    I think you could make a direct comparison to what ASE does for auto mechanics when it comes to teaching and certifying sign manufacturing skills. I don't think with the internet that having attended events is needed for most things that could be covered. What is really needed is:

    1. To develop a course of materials.

    2. Convince the sign business owner(s) that becoming certified will add to their bottom line.

    From that point forward, the sign industry is divided into two groups. The certified shops and the uncertified ones.
  4. rtaylorcox

    rtaylorcox New Member

    Oct 8, 2014
    I suppose the key would be to reinforce the need or necessity for the training. The electrical and plumbing trades have government backing for this sort of thing. Why not the signage industry? If attendees paying for the training is an issue then perhaps sponsored education is a way to remedy that. Employers bemoan that they have high turnovers and don't have the time to train staff... OK if there was training offered to better qualify the staff would employers allow staff to get the training? Topics for the training could range anywhere from specific techniques in sign industry time management skills, customer relations, effective job estimating/costing, colour management in printing, government signage regulations, electrical signage and electrical inspection guidelines to workplace health and safety matters.
  5. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

    Apr 17, 2003
    Valle Vista

    We already have codes, rules, regulations, contractors
    licenses and permits, now we have to muck it all up
    with certifications?

    I'm all for training, education, seminars and mentoring
    but I've worked at 8 shops, all having their own little
    twist on how to do things. First you have to have a standard
    to be able to have a certification worth enough to make it
    worthwhile... I was ASE certified for quite a few specialties,
    and it was great for the shops owner to have me that, but
    automotive standards have the backing of every major
    automaker and manufacturer. I was trained at an Oil Company
    training facility for free.

    I can't see that happening in this business without a lot of
    bickering and politics.

    Signshops will always be divided by their capabilities... most here
    print on panels... then there are the other shops... Architectural, ADA
    Wraps, Franchise accounts, dimensional, illuminated, hand lettering...
    the list goes on... it's to broad of a thread,very few shops are
    capable of more than a few specialties, less than that are able to
    because of restrictions.
  6. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

    May 16, 2011
    I was talking to a project manager about why there is no "sign union". There are SO MANY different types of sign shops, and I'd bet there are at least 25 small shops (5 or less employees) for every medium to large sized sign shop. Not only that, the outfits that are manufacturing and installing the big stuff have welders, electricians, crane operators, etc on their staff. & Those specialties have their own unions.

    If there is a field I'd like to know more about its either cabinetry or mechanical engineering. But does someone looking for a sign shop care if they have master carpenters working for them? I don't think so. Additionally, I don't think the average sign shop could justify the added expense of hiring someone who is a master in a different, but related, field.

    EDIT: There are various WRAP certifications available. Does that matter to any of your customers? I think it makes a bigger difference to the hiring manager than it does to joe schmoe who wants his van wrapped neatly and affordably.
  7. Solventinkjet

    Solventinkjet DIY Printer Fixing Guide

    Aug 2, 2011
    Denver, CO
    I got my first job in the sign industry because my high school had a graphic design program that I achieved a certificate in. I learned design and more importantly, how to use the adobe products. My first employer never asked to see the certificate, they just wanted to see if I could run illustrator proficiently. A certificate is nice for a resume but it doesn't show that a person has the right kind of mind set for the industry. I believe education is the back bone of this industry as there are so many applications and techniques needed to run a successful sign business. I don't think there is one certification that would be able cover the wide range of knowledge employees get from just learning on the job and being able to demonstrate those new skills to prospective employers later in their careers. There is no better certification than a past employer vouching for your skills.
  8. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

    Mar 25, 2006
    Mars Florida
    Another major issue that no amount of certification or training will overcome is talent. I bet 80% of the sign shops who know how to fix computers, printers, plotters, can't draw a simple stick figure. It's easy for anybody to get in this business and make perfect ugly signs with incredible ease and technology. This business really does require some artistic ability and most do not have it, and couldn't learn it if meant their life.

    So go ahead and teach somebody how to use the tools but that won't solve the epidemic wave of god awful ugly visual eye piercing pollution we drive by every day. Crap can only be sold for cheap and cheap only perpetuates more cheap when everyone is selling on that level to compete.

    I don't think the sign business will ever improve. The letterhead movement lost momentum when plotters and printers came onto the scene. And with all the knowledge available on this site, how many newbies actually avail themselves of it to learn and improve their abilities? Only a few will take the time and make the investment to better their product. I've been at this forty years and it's no different now than it was when I started....
  9. bob

    bob Major Contributor

    Nov 4, 2005
    What he said.

    Certification, by whatever name you want to call it, does nothing more than place an arbitrary apparatus in some degree of control over any endeavor seeking to be 'certified'. Whatever that might mean. There already exists a plethora of semi-literate functionaries to whom I must cleave to some degree or another. I do not want nor need any more.

    It would improve nothing and complicate everything. The market votes with its collective wallet for just who is competent and who is less so.
  10. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

    Jun 4, 2007
    Home Office
    One problem with the Letterhead movement dieing out was the old timers themselves. In my area they were more apt to stick a lettering quill in your eye than train you.
    IMO they're own arrogance is partly to blame for the demise although you will never get any of them to admit it.

    Part that really bugs me is all but one master brush man I talked to were closing in on retirement. They had nothing to lose. By the time I would have attained half their skill level they would be living in a condo in Florida.

    The one that was training me to be what he called a "mop artist" is no longer alive. His addictions got the better of him. Too bad as we were similar in age and could have worked together for decades.

    To reiterate: This is only what I experienced in my geographic area.

    As far as education being the answer it is not the be all end all. Some students just go through the motions while doing the bare minimum to get a degree. I witnessed it first hand. Texting and Facebook were far too important to be interrupted by school projects.
  11. danno

    danno Member

    Mar 26, 2013
    Birmingham, AL
    Ok, I have to comment on this. I think we as people/professionals in the trade should come up with our own standards for testing people in what we specialize in. Example, if an installer says he has been in the business 10 years and has a boat load of certifications, give him a panel and have him wrap a bumper or an HHR hood. If they are a designer and proficient in Illustrator or Photoshop, give them a project and have them complete the task on one of your house computers. If we would think about what we actually do, we all could come up with simple tests for somebody we want to hire. One of my tasks as beginning fabricator was to build a battery box for a racecar. I was given the battery, a sheet of steel, a sharpie, pattern paper, a welder and an example box (different size battery). I was put on the clock and they graded me the results. I was graded on workmanship, time, material usage and knowledge.
  12. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

    Jun 13, 2013
    At one time most bigger cities had sign and decorative arts unions, but in alignment with this nation's inability to remember much of its history combined with our near fanatical devotion to the myth of "rugged individualism" and majority conformity on believing whatever corporate sponsored propaganda about how unions are not needed, most of us have given up on working collectively, which is what your suggestion would require. Plus, many signmakers and other creative types are fiercely independent type people, so working collaboratively on ANYTHING is like herding cats.

    I was fortunate enough to be in a signpainters union and go through its 5 year apprenticeship program and school. Yes, there used to be union sponsored schools in many cities for most of the skilled trades.

    On your Edit point. I get at least a call a day about a wrap and IMO, it is one of the most destructively influenced sectors of our industry based on the lack of collective organization of our craft. I mostly blame the younger generation within our craft who know next to nothing about our country's labor history, working collaboratively for the benefit of all and their overwhelming desire to do only what they deem as the "cool" work. They look at us "dinosaurs" as being in the way of them progressing, and rarely will defer to our expertise or experience on how the need to work together to establish baselines on pricing and quality is as important as knowing how to get vinyl to stick to a plastic bumper.

    How slapping usually gawdy, overdone stickers with way too much information, special effects, etc. on vehicles is the "cool" work is beyond me, but in my market, its all I hear about from colleagues and the race to the bottom on price is in full speed mode the same as I've witnessed in most cities.

    I NEVER get asked about qualifications, experience or certifications. I get asked how much per square foot and people expect pricing over the freakin' phone sight unseen. They must be getting them from somebody too, because its pretty rare when one of these tire kickers EVER actually do what I suggest and come in with the vehicle or at the very least send photos and some basic measurements.
  13. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

    Jun 24, 2003
    Marketing is the key. A marketing plan that meets a specific need for certain clients. And is not affected by the economy.

    Here, there is a quiet shop that is building a huge shop space. The guy is kicking butt selling his product like I have never observed ever before in my life.

    Skills? He has average skills. However he hired some high priced sales people and an even higher priced marketing guru. And he hires people that are willing to learn and are coach-able.

    I chat with him and his marketing guru. I see what a genuine marketing plan will do. This guy has no fear of anything because his plan does not cater to the products that 88% of the shops within this forum produce. While other area shops cry about prices and cannibalize each other in their race to the lowest price he chugs along as if no one else exists.

    Its all in the marketing plan. I never once hear him complain about some low baller. He complains about getting good technicians to fill the openings in his shop. And there is not a single vinyl cutter nor a wide format printer in the place.

    All one has to do is attend one of his semi-monthly lunches of pulled pork. He invites his clients, vendors, friends, workers, and anyone else who could benefit his empire. You will walk away feeling you want to be just like him. That is marketing at its best.

    Education? yes, get educated on developing a marketing plan and build your brand.
  14. chester215

    chester215 Just call me Chester.

    Sep 29, 2011
    Naugatuck, CT
    I was a golf course superintendent for about 10 years during a time when there was a transition by the national organization to accredit superintendents with the title of being "certified".
    In my opinion did it help to promote the industry? Not really.
    It seemed to cause a division between those that were certified and those that were not, inflating the ego's of many but not really providing any additional value to the customer.
    If you are interested in titles, go get a MBA or Masters degree in Art or advertising.
    Those that we deal with as sign professionals probably recognize and respect those titles more than a term such as
    "certified sign designer" or something similar.
  15. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    Nah, education and certification are not the answer and another waste of time. On the job training is the best way to learn anything. Out in the field not in the books. Books tell you what to do being on the job shows and makes you do. In "doing" you learn.
  16. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    Mid TN
    Education is actually the answer, however, most people that think education isn't the answer only think of book education.

    On the job experience is a form of education, so even those that advocate experience above any type of testing etc are still in favor of education, just a different type.

    All forms of education have their pros and cons. Even on the job experience as a form of education can be a bad thing, it all depends on the situation.

    I believe in the value of both in the classroom and on the job, however, it does depend on where you get it (and from whom) and what you put into it.

    Now, certifications and the like, not so much. Too much "politics" goes into certification that really, in my mind, destroys the value of certification in most instances.
  17. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

    Jun 18, 2004
    It amazes me that so many think no education will help better then with. guess yawl want hand outs sad

    Fred made a good point once the ball is rolling then it is those who are certified those who are not

    & since much of this work these days is design & software knowledge & being the bulk of the work is by machine not by hand being certified would really help in hiring & customer trusting a shop to make real advertising instead of the garbage greatly produced these days by shops that could careless about there customers & just the money.

    In 1985 when I moved to Orlando sign shops popped up like weeds on a rainy summer & those shops & people that did work hard at providing the best they could started to go away partly because prices fell like a rock in water & no talent shops got the work & businesses failed even faster.

    Ya get what ya pay for same goes for education, if all ya want to do is stamps signs have fun lol
  18. mrugen

    mrugen Member

    Dec 17, 2003
    Strucured versus Random Education

    Are we not here at signs101.com educating each other? Of course, but we do so rather randomly and as needed. Being certified doesn't mean giving up on random and as needed education and learning. That's on the job training and its probably the most valuable. But providing some structure to education though a certification program has benefits a well.

    • A pool of qualified employees,
    • A standard for all shops to reach for,
    • More respect from the public and other organizations like government entities,
    • Focus on existing and future technologies,
    • A repository, library if you will, focused on our industry.

    I'm sure there are more benefits, but it will take leadership and lots of planning as well as contributions from experienced sign writers.

    I've loved the concept for over 25 years! I believe its time has finally arrived and it will be a blend of live and on-demand online events with hands on when needed.

    Sign me up!
  19. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    Unfortunately, 25 years ago, it might've worked much better, but today, we have way too many people in this industry, who just don't give a rat's behind as to rules, regulations and integrity. Heck, 1/3 to 1/2 of the people barely speak English in this country, so they don't even know what you're talking about.

    We have a situation which is destroying us from within and from the outside in. It's not hopeless, not by any means, but it sure is harder today to make this living, than when I was first introduced to it........ and it's not because of computers.
  20. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

    Jun 13, 2013
    We could all get certified, add years worth of additional skillset knowledge and it still won't alleviate the biggest obstacle to our collective ability to sell better looking, more fun to produce, creatively challenging work for most of us. That obstacle is an American consumer that for the most part has rejected finely crafted ANYTHING in their lives. They live in shoddily built houses, drive cars ready for recall any minute, eat lousy food, blah...blah....blah.....

    The general public has embraced cheap, mass produced garbage over handcrafted goods because they refuse to see the value in anything durable or of high quality. Its not entirely our fault, billions are spent on influencing our values. The images and messages they are fed by corporate America are cheap beats everything and our high wage European brothers and sisters are spoiled, overpaid slugs.

    That message has gone hand in hand with the 40 year campaign to denigrate organized labor, collective cooperation and usher in the race to the bottom on wages and benefits and everything else that made America's working classes the envy of the world from the 50's through the 70's.

    Want to turn it around and bring back respect for skilled trades? put your consumer dollars where your mouths are and vote with your wallet, not your emotional attachment to some easily exploited hot button social issues.
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