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Set Designer

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Set designers design and organise sets for theatre, ballet, opera, and television or film productions. They find suitable locations if filming outdoors. They read the script and plan the set design that best suits the production.

In film they can be called production designers and in theatre, stage designers.

The Work

You could be:

Pay

Pay rates vary, depending on:

Starting salaries for set designers might be between £15,000 and £20,000 a year.

However, most set designers work freelance. They charge a fee, which varies depending on the work and their reputation. There are guidelines on the website of BECTU and other unions which might help you negotiate a freelance rate of pay. The latest guidelines from BECTU (June 2017) suggest rates from £685 to £1,050 a week for a junior set designer up to £1,785 for a senior.

Conditions

Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

Applications for the RCS go through UCAS Conservatoires.

All applications to Art Schools (Duncan of Jordanstone at Dundee University, Edinburgh College of Art at Edinburgh University, Glasgow School of Art, Gray's School of Art at Robert Gordon's and Moray School of Art at UHI) are through UCAS, with some courses having a closing date of 15th January and others having the closing date of 24th March.

There are very few permanent jobs and entry into this career is very competitive. You might find them advertised in the specialist press, online and through the BECTU website, but many posts are filled by word of mouth. A lot of set designers work freelance.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland

Employment

Unemployment

Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)

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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

  Scotland
2017
2504
0.5 %
FALL
2022
2491
  United Kingdom
2017
43669
0.7 %
RISE
2022
43960

LMI data powered by EMSI UK

What Does it Take?

You should be:

You should have:

Training

Training is through experience, on the job.

Getting On

Getting work as a freelance set designer depends on becoming well known and established. This can take some time. You might need to take other jobs to make an income. Building up a good portfolio of work and making personal contacts are most important in getting work.

More Information

The Creative and Cultural Skills website has a careers section called Creative Choices which includes information on working in the theatre and set design.

Contacts

The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

BECTU Scotland (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union)
Tel: 0141 314 0060
E-mail: info@bectu.org.uk
Website: http://www.bectu.org.uk
Twitter: @bectu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BECTUOfficial

Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)
Tel: 020 7357 8088
E-mail: info@csd.org.uk
Website: http://www.csd.org.uk
Twitter: @csdminerva
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/charteredsocietyofdesigners

Creative and Cultural Skills
E-mail: edinburgh@ccskills.org.uk
Website: http://www.ccskills.org.uk/
Website (2): https://ccskills.org.uk/careers
Twitter: @CCskills
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccskills

Creative and Cultural Skills is the Sector Skills Council for advertising, crafts, cultural heritage, design, music, performing, literary and visual arts. Creative Choices is their career information website.

Scottish Drama Training Network
Tel: 0141 270 8349
Website: http://sdtn.org/
Twitter: @SDTNtweets
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sdtnofficial/

Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD)
E-mail: admin@theatredesign.org.uk
Website: http://www.theatredesign.org.uk/
Twitter: @SBTDWebsite
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/46932887747

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