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Set Designer

Set designer checking the television production studio set up

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 ITC (Independent Theatre Council) and Equity recommend the following for 2023/24:

Conditions

Workforce Employment Status

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Useful Subjects

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. Closing dates can vary depending on the course. Check with UCAS.

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

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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

  Scotland
2023
2562
5.2 %
RISE
2028
2695
  United Kingdom
2023
29348
4.6 %
RISE
2028
30685

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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.

Video

Courtesy of Royal Opera House

Contacts

The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

BECTU Scotland (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union)
Tel: 0141 370 1590
E-mail: info@bectu.org.uk
Website: http://www.bectu.org.uk
Twitter: @bectu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BECTUOfficial

Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD)
Tel: 07809 721047
E-mail: admin@theatredesign.org.uk
Website: http://www.theatredesign.org.uk/
Twitter: @weareSBTD
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/46932887747

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