Set designer

production designer stage designer
Create

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 create the overall look of a theatre, television or film production.

Your work would begin at the start of the production planning process, and end on the opening night or when filming begins. You would create the design ideas and sometimes delegate the practical work to others.

You would:

  • Read scripts and discuss ideas with the director
  • Share your ideas with costume, make-up, prop and lighting designers
  • Solve problems such as lighting or scene changes
  • Research details to get the right look
  • Keep to a budget
  • Sketch your ideas, scene by scene
  • Build and photograph scale models
  • Work out costs and schedules
  • Direct set building
  • Make any changes needed during rehearsals

In theatre, you might work alone or with an assistant. In TV/film, you may manage a team that could include art directors, assistant art directors, storyboard artists and model makers.

You would need good knowledge of the production process, including technical parts such as lighting and sound.

You may spend some of your time marketing your services.

Working conditions

Hours

Working hours can be long and may involve evening and weekend work to meet deadlines or support productions.

Environment

You’ll work in a studio, an office or from home.

Travel

You may sometimes have to travel to 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
  • Making things
  • 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?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

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

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Most set designers have a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a relevant design subjects such as interior design or technical theatre, interior and 3D design or a similar subject, preferably with a specialism in set design.

You can enter some Interior Design National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF level 5) with no formal qualifications but most courses require National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter a 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 (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Art and design

You will also need

You will need a portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative and practical craft skills and industry knowledge such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Technical Theatre Operations (SCQF level 6).