What's one of the worst jobs you can get? It just might be
holding an advertising sign for hours at a time. It can't exactly
be called difficult, but it may be one of the most tedious and
boring things you can do to collect a paycheck. As a sign holder
you rarely are paid more than minimum wage, and you have to stand
out in the weather all day long.
I've recently worked as a sign holder as part of an effort
to try out many different positions through a temporary work
agency. I worked two days holding up a six-foot by four-foot
sign for an RV show for minimum wage, which is $7.79 here in
Florida. The first day I followed one of the event organizers
out to a spot on the highway a half-mile from the show. He had
the sign in his car (it wouldn't fit in mine). I parked my car
in the grass to the side of the road and took the sign from him.
He told me he would stop by around noon (it was 9:30) with a
sandwich for me. I wasn't offered any further instructions.
The sign had two handles on the back, but I assumed that having
a person visible was better for attracting attention, so I tried
to stand to one side and hold the sign in various ways. It is
surprising how much a breeze can affect a sign of that size.
The top half had been allowed to crease by whomever previously
held the sign (two people had already quit this job the day before),
so I had to hold the top to keep it from folding back. Holding
my arm up was tiring after fifteen minutes, and I had more than
six hours to go.
I had sun block on, but could still feel my ears burning a
bit in the relentless Florida sun. There was not a single cloud
that day. I tried to move my legs once in a while. If you haven't
had a job that involves standing in one place for hours, you
may not know that it is more difficult than walking. I would
rather walk for eight hours than stand still for two.
Shortly after noon someone came by and handed me water and
a sandwich, which I took and ate without setting down the sign.
It seemed that they expected the sign to be up at all times;
drivers had to know where to turn for the show after all. I was
able to reach into my car without setting down the sign as well,
which meant I could get my water and put on my sandals to cool
my feet. The hours dragged on...
At four that afternoon I was done and I was paid for only
six hours, shorted a half hour. After taxes I earned $39 for
the day. Apparently they deducted for the lunch break that I
never took. The next day I made it a point to tie the sign to
the car and lay across the back seat for an hour to eat and relax.
In fact, the next day I was much more prepared. I had sunglasses
and a broad-rimmed hat for sun protection. I had an MP3 player
with four hours' worth of music and other content. I had a two-quart
plastic bottle of ice, which melted down over the course of the
day to provide cold water all afternoon. I even used a chair,
because I had not been told that I could not.
As an aside, I want to point out that twenty years earlier
I had been employed by a temporary work agency and typically
made between $8 and $9 per hour. Now, after twenty years of inflation
has doubled the prices of nearly everything, the wage was $7.79
per hour. In real terms that means these low-end jobs are paying
half of what they used to pay. Bring a chair if you're going
to work that cheap.
Even with the chair this was tedious awful work. The sun was
hot and it was impossible to find a position that was comfortable
for more than five minutes. Another guy from the labor pool (that's
what they call the temp agencies here) was working a corner two
miles away. He ended up tying his sign to a post and sitting
in the shade for hours. At least we were not asked to wear costumes
or dance around.
The only other good news, for those who need fast cash, was
that the particular temporary work agency through which we were
working paid us at the end of each day.
How Much Can You Make?
This is minimum wage work, which means (as of 2013) you will
make between $7.25 and $10 per hour depending on which state
you live in.
Note: just after publishing this page someone emailed to let
us know that sign spinners in Austin Texas are paid between $9
and $13 per hour. Regular sign holders (no fancy spinning) are
generally paid $10 per hour there.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Start your own sign holding company if you want to make more
than a low hourly wage. Offer something more perhaps (see the
Qualifications / Requirements
I have seen workers in wheel chairs holding signs around southern
Florida, so there are few physical requirements.
Unless you are going to start your own outdoor advertising
company, most sign waving jobs are through temporary agencies.
Ask someone holding a sign who they are working for.
This video demonstrates "sign spinning." The performers
work for Arrow Advertising, a San Diego company that developed
the idea of outdoor advertising as a performance. It certainly
could take some of the tedium out of the job.
Fair warning, if you do not have the energy of the guys in
the video, your experience will likely be that holding up a sign
is not a fun way to make money.
If you liked this page please let others know with one of