Set designer

Alternative titles for this job include Draughtsperson

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 a Set designer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


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

  • fine art
  • interior design
  • 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 for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information


You may be able to get into this job through a creative and digital media advanced apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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.

Volunteering and experience

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

Further information

Creative Choices has more details about working as a set designer.

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
  • Being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • studying scripts and discussing ideas with the director
  • communicating your ideas to costume, make-up, props and lighting designers
  • working out problems like lighting and scene changes
  • researching historical, contemporary or futuristic details to get the right look for the production
  • creating effective designs within the available budget
  • sketching design ideas to produce a storyboard
  • building and photographing 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

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

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Graphic Designer

  • Wage : £200.00 Weekly
  • Location: Crewe CW4 7LP

Photoshop/Graphic Designer Apprentice

  • Wage : £120.25 Weekly
  • Location: Colchester CO7 6BL

Courses In England

A Level Art & Design - 3D Design (Interior Design)

  • Start date: 05 September 2019
  • Location: Portsmouth

Interior Design - Kitchen Design

  • Start date: 16 January 2019
  • Location: Sevenoaks

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