Wardrobe assistant

costume assistant dresser seamstress
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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 help to make and look after the costumes used by actors in a TV show, film or play. The costumes you work on would make the production feel more real and look more impressive. 

You would:

  • Help to buy and hire costume items
  • Look after the costumes between takes or scenes
  • Mend and alter items
  • Pack and unpack costumes and accessories
  • Clean, steam and iron
  • Help to make pieces and put costumes together
  • Fit costumes on to performers
  • Make sure that all costume items are available ready when needed
  • Keep notes to ensure that performers look the same in each scene
  • Keep records of all costumes and accessories needed
  • Store costumes and return hired items

A costume supervisor or wardrobe master/mistress would oversee your work. You’d need great sewing skills and an appreciation of design and fashion.

In theatre, you might also act as a 'dresser', helping performers with costume changes during the show.

Working conditions

Hours

Hours can be long and unsociable and will depend on the schedule of the production on which you are working. In film and TV, most of the work is in the daytime, but in the theatre wardrobe assistants normally cover evening performances and matinées, six days a week.

Environment

You might work in theatres, at film/TV studios, or in temporary cabins if out on location. Working conditions backstage may be cramped and hot.

Travel

You may sometimes be expected to go on tour with a production or spend some time working far away from home.

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 with your hands
  • Making things
  • Being creative
  • 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

There are no set entry routes for this role.

Employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5, but since entry is competitive, many wardrobe assistants study at college or university.

To enter a fashion or textiles National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF levels 2-6) most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter a fashion, textile or costume 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.

The BA degree in Production Arts and Design at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) includes subjects in costume design and costume construction. You require three Highers or two Advanced Highers or equivalent.

BA degree in Performance Costume at Edinburgh College of Art, at Edinburgh University. For entry you need four Highers at BBBB and English at Standard grade level 3 or National 5.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses)
  • Maths
  • Art and design
  • Fashion and textile technology

You will also need

Good sewing skills.

You may also need a portfolio or examples of your work for some courses.

 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show an understanding of the industry such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCQF level 5) and practical sewing, cleaning and repair skills such as a National Certificate in Fashion Design and Manufacture (SCQF level 6).

Dressmaking or bespoke tailoring skills.

Experience in drama, such as amateur productions.