Costume designer

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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would design clothes and costumes for theatre, film or television productions to help make the characters seem real to the audience.

You’d study the script to learn more about the story, setting and characters. You’d discuss ideas with the production designer, director, and make-up, set and lighting designers.

You’d research and design the costumes for the setting and style of the production. You’d work out how to create them in time for the production and within the budget.

On a large production, you would lead a team to design, make and hire costumes for everyone on stage or screen. You’d manage and oversee the work of costume makers, wardrobe supervisors and wardrobe assistants.

You would:

  • Create costume ideas to fit the production’s design concept and budget
  • Research suitable costume styles, fabrics and designs
  • Sketch costume designs
  • Give instructions to costume makers so they can turn your sketches into real garments

You’d need to make sure the costumes fit the actors.

On smaller productions, you might also:

  • Manage the wardrobe budget
  • Buy or hire outfits
  • Fit, alter and adapt costumes
  • Clean, iron and mend garments
  • Make sure that wardrobe items are available at the right time
  • Keep the look of the costumes the same between shoots or scenes

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours could be long and may involve evening and weekend work to meet deadlines.

Environment

You could work in a studio, a theatre, from an office or from home.

Travel

You would also attend meetings with theatres or film/TV production companies.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Taking the lead
  • Designing
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Researching and investigating
  • Being creative
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Paying attention to detail

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You will need a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) in relevant subjects such as: 

  • Costume design
  • Fashion design and production
  • Textiles

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a postgraduate qualification (SCQF level 11) you need a relevant degree and may require experience. 

You will also need an art portfolio for most courses.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by some courses)
  • Art and Design (required by some courses)
  • Maths (required by some courses)
  • Drama
  • Fashion and textile technologies
  • Social subjects such as history

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate creative skills and industry knowledge such as Skills for Work Creative industries (SCQF  level 5).