Set designer

production designer stage designer
Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for set designer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

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


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


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


You may sometimes have to travel to attend meetings with theatres, or film/TV production companies.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Implementing ideas
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Researching
  • Designing
  • Creative
  • Problem solving

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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.

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


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).