(Standard Revised 2012)


In universities and colleges across the country, educators are preparing students to become responsible citizens, able to make decisions that will benefit their personal and professional lives. Using the concepts described in these standards, educators are able to introduce students to the basics of digital signage, providing the technical skills and industry knowledge to help them flourish in this growing industry.


Existing Resources

There are courses and curricula in many universities, community colleges, and technical schools that already incorporate elements that would contribute to developing a specialty track, certification program, or full degree program that would lead to careers in the digital signage industry. Educational institutions are encouraged to identify course work already available under the aegis of departments including:

  • Marketing, Communications, Advertising, Public Relations
  • Art, Graphic Design
  • Computer Science, Information Technology
  • Business, Management
  • Media, Broadcast Production
  • Psychology, Consumer Behavior, Behavioral Science


How the Standards are Created and Maintained

This collection of national standards is a forward-looking combination of what students should know and be able to do in the digital signage industry. The DSF Education and Standards committees have developed it as a resource for colleges, universities, and other academic organizations as they develop curricula for a successful career in digital signage.

The DSF updates the standards regularly and solicits input from industry and academic professionals. The version and revision date of the standards is printed on the standards document. The DSF Education Committee sets the review process and publishes the updated versions of the standards. The most current version of the standards published on the DSF website is considered the officially adopted standard.


What the Standards Represent

The standards are based on a body of knowledge and a set of competencies designed to prepare students to become skilled and ethical decision makers as they fulfill their roles in the industry, community, and places of work.

The National Standards for Digital Signage Education are necessary because most students in marketing or information technology will participate at some point in their career in the digital signage industry as users, developers, or integrators.

Because all students will encounter a business environment that is characterized by dynamic change, students will need to have strong core knowledge of the entire digital signage industry, including its brief history and primary benefits compared to other media.

The technology and business concepts as described in these national standards can contribute to the development of students prepared to make the most of their opportunity to use their skills, making a difference in their respective organizations and in their personal life.


Implementing the Standards

When an institution adopts or officially recognizes these standards, the Digital Signage Federation should be informed of this decision. The DSF will promote your institution’s decision and will be able to coordinate with the institution faculty on future revision recommendations.


The National Standards for Digital Signage Education Document

The Digital Signage Federation National Standards for Digital Signage Education are contained within the framework outlined in the following pages. These guidelines and framework are intended to help colleges, universities, and other educational organizations in developing their curricula. They are considered comprehensive but in no way are these standards a guarantee of success for any education program or student who is educated in a program that adopts these standards.


Disclaimer of Non-Guarantee

These standards are developed, published, and attributable to the Digital Signage Federation but the Digital Signage Federation accepts no liability for the level of success experienced by any person participating in a program that uses these standards.

  1. Objectives – Students completing a program focused on digital signage education will be able to:
    1. Be familiar with and understand the history of digital signage to fully comprehend the future direction of the industry.
    2. Understand and be familiar with the key elements and components of digital signage.
    3. Identify the applications potential for digital signage, how application decisions are made, and how digital signage is helping specific sectors.
    4. Define digital signage technologies, identify proper uses of these technologies, and understand how systems, content, networks, displays, software, and hardware work together as an integrated digital signage network.
    5. Understand and analyze the business concepts, rationale, and decision processes involving digital signage.
    6. Fully participate within the digital signage industry with a robust vocabulary of terms used within digital signage.
  2. Review the history of the digital signage medium and anticipate future trends
    1. Identify the technological forerunners of digital signage.
    2. Examine the driving forces and key trends impacting the digital signage industry  (past, present, future).
    3. Summarize current research or other estimations of projected growth in the industry, by segment and geographic market.
  3. Comprehend the Seven Key Elements of Digital Signage. (These are further expanded upon in sections 5-7 of these standards.)
    1. Hardware: Identify hardware options and define how they are used.
    2. Software: Differentiate between the software options for DS deployments.
    3. Connectivity: Describe the networking options available.
    4. Content: Recognize the importance of content as an essential element of effective digital signage deployments.
    5. Operations: Understand the ongoing operational management requirements of a network.
    6. Design: Determine the purpose of the network and define the environment in which it will operate.
    7. Business: Assess the factors that justify deploying a network, who the key players will be, and how success will be measured.
  4. Identify the most common applications of digital signage
    1. Demonstrate how this technology may be used in various environments.  Further, differentiate use:
      1. By vertical market, e.g., retail, education, transportation, hospitality, etc.
      2. By objective, e.g., promotion/advertising, education, way-finding/navigation, emergency messaging, etc.
    2. Examine and describe the differences between types of digital signage network models including:
      1. Closed system
      2. Open system
      3. Hybrid system
      4. Informational system
    3. Understand the role of network aggregators in the DOOH Market
  5. Demonstrate understanding of the technological aspects of digital signage networks including:
    1. Hardware
      1. Define and compare options for playback devices including:
        1. PC-based hardware
          1. Desktop PC-based
          2. Mobile PC-based
          3. Integrated PC chipset-based
        2. Set-top devices
        3. PCs integrated in displays
      2. Explain the options and understand the requirements for mounting screens including:
        1. Examine different mounting styles (Wall, Ceiling, Floor, etc.).
        2. Compare permanent or non-permanent solutions.
        3. Analyze the ROI and ROP of customized vs. off-the-shelf solutions.
        4. Estimate the need for seismic certification requirements.
        5. Calculate/estimate the costs associated with UL listing.
        6. Integrate and ensure adherence to ADA requirements.
        7. Identify and summarize structural requirements.
        8. Understand and explain “consolidation.”
        9. Identify logistics requirements.
        10. Understand and incorporate manufacturing schedules.
        11. Explain the process for choosing supplier partners.
      3. Describe and compare available types of displays including:
        1. LCD
        2. LED
        3. Plasma
        4. Video walls
        5. Interactive
        6. Projection
      4. Analyze options for placement of displays and identify optimal choices.
      5. Evaluate environmental considerations including:
        1. Heat and moisture
        2. Vandalism and theft
        3. Ambient light
        4. Energy efficiency
      6. Consider potential safety issues including:
        1. Display height
        2. Display weight
        3. Electrical connections
      7. Software: Define and compare options for content management software including:
        1. Premise-based/proprietary
        2. SaaS
        3. Cloud-based
    2. Connectivity
      1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of how network components are connected including:
        1. WAN/LAN
        2. Wireless/cellular
        3. Satellite
        4. Wi-Fi
  6. Content
    1. Distinguish between different types of content and content styles and assess the pros and cons of each type/style
      1. Advertising, branding, marketing, informational, way-finding, etc.
      2. Full-motion video, graphics, with or without audio, tickers, animation, etc.
    2. Describe effective content components
    3. Define content sources
    4. Understand how content may be impacted by external input (e.g., POS activity, customer data, interactive triggers)
    5. Examine how playlists are managed
  7. Understand the various business aspects related to digital signage networks
    1. Discuss the strategic business aspects of digital signage deployments (e.g., determine whether digital signage aligns with business strategy)
    2. Determine the appropriate investment model (CapEx, leasing, etc.)
    3. Understand how to measure the effectiveness of digital signage networks including calculation of ROI/ROO
      1. Develop appropriate metrics
      2. Select research methods
      3. Analyze research data
      4. Review and revise
    4. Identify risk management issues and how to address them
    5. Recognize the need for coordination with company-wide IT networks
    6. Define potential privacy issues
    7. Integrate digital signage into the overall Marketing mix
  8. Demonstrate familiarity with terms broadly used in the digital signage industry
    1. Refer to the DSF Glossary of Terms (