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Set designer

Alternative titles for this job include

Set designers design and create the settings for commercials, television, theatre and films.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

40 to 42 variable

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a set designer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • working towards this role


You can study for a higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject, like:

  • fine art
  • interior design
  • architecture
  • 3D design
  • theatre design

Several universities, colleges and drama schools also offer courses in performing arts production or design for film and television.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You could learn some of the skills you need for this job through a college course like a:

  • level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Production Arts
  • level 3 Diploma in 3D Design and Crafts
  • level 3 Art and Design

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More Information


You could start as a set designer's assistant, art department trainee, prop maker or a runner in film or TV and work your way up.


You should find practical experience and build a portfolio of your design work to show to potential employers. You can get relevant experience by getting involved in:

  • student theatre or film
  • local amateur or community theatre
  • low-budget independent films

More Information

Career tips

A portfolio showing sets you've designed for amateur theatre, school plays or films would be useful.

Further information

You can find out more about working as a set designer from ScreenSkills and other creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You may:

  • study scripts and discuss ideas with the director
  • communicate your ideas to costume, make-up, props and lighting designers
  • work out problems like lighting and scene changes
  • research historical, contemporary or futuristic details to get the right look for the production
  • create effective designs within the available budget
  • sketch design ideas to produce a storyboard
  • build and photograph scale models

Working environment

You could work in a theatre, in an office, on a film set, in a creative studio, from home or at a film studio.

Your working environment may be physically demanding and outdoors some of the time.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could work on larger and more prestigious film, TV and theatre productions.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a set designer right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Set design

  • Start date: 06 May 2023
  • Location: Uxbridge

Technical Theatre

  • Provider: Morley College
  • Start date: 04 May 2023
  • Location: London

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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Skills assessment

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