Prop maker

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?

Make the realistic-looking objects used to help set the scene in plays, films and television programmes. Your props would help audiences to get into the world of the show.

You might make anything from fake jewellery to replica weapons and moving models, depending on what the script calls for.

There’s a wide range of practical and craft skills you might use in this job, including:

  • Carpentry
  • Sculpting
  • Casting
  • Sewing
  • Painting
  • Welding

You’d work with a variety of materials such as metal, latex, fibreglass, wood or fabric. You’d use many different hand and power tools – anything from paintbrushes to welding equipment.

You would:

  • Discuss the brief with the production designer, set designer or props master
  • Make props as shown in rough sketches or detailed designs
  • Use computer-aided design to develop ideas
  • Do historical or cultural research to make objects look authentic
  • Experiment with different materials and techniques to create realistic effects
  • Adapt existing items, for example ‘distress’ an object to make it look old
  • Hire or buy props
  • Repair props

On larger productions - typically in film and TV - you would work closely with a team including production designers, set designers, set builders, wardrobe and costume staff and model makers.

On smaller productions - often in theatre - you might build sets and work on costumes as well as making props.

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours would depend on the needs of the production. You may be able to choose your own working times, but you should be flexible and able to put in long hours to meet deadlines when necessary.

Environment

You could work in a studio, workshop or prop room, which may be backstage at a theatre or on a film or TV set. You would also spend time on research and visiting shops and theatrical suppliers. Working conditions may be cramped and dusty, and you may have to work with chemicals such as adhesives and paints.

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:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Working on your own
  • Working with your hands
  • Using computers
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being creative
  • Budgeting
  • Time management
  • 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.

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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

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but many prop makers study at college or university in areas such as Technical Theatre, or 3D design and Model Making.

You can enter some design National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but some courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

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.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Maths (required by many courses)
  • Art and design subjects such as design and manufacture
  • Practical technologies

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show a range of practical or creative skills such as art, design, manufacture and visual communication, such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCQF level 5).