How To Find Set Designing Jobs in 4 Steps (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Set designing jobs allow you to express your creativity at work, making sets for theater and film productions after instructions and descriptions. Becoming a set designer involves much networking and training. Learning how to get a set designing job after you've gained the skills necessary for it can be a good help to your future career. In this article, we discuss what set designing jobs are, how to get them, some skills needed for them and tips for your initial search.

What are set designing jobs?

Set designing jobs are when designers create a set that is for a theater or movie filming area. They may help design a room, a landscaping area or a piece of a stage involved with the production that will go on film. They may even help with camera angles to ensure that each part of the scene contributes to the final product. Sert designers read scripts and discuss ideas with both the directors and the writers on the team to help create a consistent vision for the set display.

They may spend some time researching different settings, story and description items and reviewing ideas with writers to ensure that the set develops according to expectations. Set designers may consult other stagehand members, such as lighting specialists or costume designers to ensure that everything about the set can have accommodations in the final piece. They may also spend some time sketching out draft ideas, creating the overall look of the production. As set employees, they are also responsible for establishing the budget of a piece and informing other members if that budget may be under-bought or overpriced.

Related: How To Become a Set Designer

How to find set designing jobs

If you want to search for set design jobs, consider some of the following steps:

1. Consider further education

Design firms you may want to become a part of might require a bachelor's or associate's degree before you apply. Many universities offer set design or theater degrees, with concentrations in set design if the degree is not explicitly focusing on the craft. These degree programs can teach you the basics of set design, how to communicate with members of the project and how to allocate a budget for decisions. Many projects can involve working with a studio to create mock sets and gain practice with real-world scenarios.

Related: How To Become a TV Set Designer

2. Gain an internship

The next part of the process toward gaining a set designing job is to work with studios in an internship. While this may not directly involve set design, working with a studio to gain contacts can be a great second step you can pursue while studying in a college or immediately after you finish your degree. Internships at studios can include tasks like handling equipment, adjusting lighting, moving props and helping with costumes.

Not only does this help you associate with the activities of an active stage, but it also lets you understand the perspective of stagehands that you will work with in the future as a set designer.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

3. Expand your experience

After you complete your internship, begin applying for jobs and more internships if possible. The more experience you gain in set design, the more you can build your experience toward an entry-level position. Try making as many contacts as you can in your work, even if they are unrelated to the stage setting facility. They may know someone from another studio, or may be able to give you feedback or aid in the future in other ways.

Related: 35 Career Paths You Can Pursue in Art

4. Learn design software and other intimacies of the trade

When you work in set designing entry-level jobs or internships, begin learning intricacies of the trade, such as set designing software. Keeping current events and up-to-date on set design development can help you find an entry-level job much faster. Set designing software not only helps you visualize your scene but allows you to translate this to others easily.

Tips for getting set designer jobs

If you want a set designing job, consider some of the following steps:

Observe other set designers

To help you get your set designing job, first, observe others' journey through this job path. Learn what they did, how they did it and what they do now. To learn how to become a set designer, observing others can help you. It can expose you indirectly to teaching about the trade and principles that you can learn by reverse engineering results.

Choose a concentration

When pursuing a career in set design, try to decide what your concentration, or specialization, is. Understanding your specialization not only helps you learn what you love about set design, but it also gives you a goal to pursue as you accomplish internships and look for new jobs. Because movie design is much different than a design for a stage, understanding which you prefer can be important for your future.

Practice in your free time

As you pursue your career in set design, consider taking opportunities to practice in your free time. This doesn't just mean looking for internships or designing mock settings on your own. You can have a more effective time practicing if you join a group of people who are also interested in set design or take part in involved conferences, such as workshops. Creating as often as possible can help prepare you for what you may need in your future internships.

Skills for set designers

Some of the most notable skills of set designers include:

Creativity

Set designers are creative and understand how camera or audience angles work. They understand how certain props may appear to onlookers, to the point where even a minor deviation such as color may affect the entire set. They work well with colors, items, symbolic representation and materials. Combining the studio's resources, good set designers can portray close to adequate settings even on a strict budget.

Communication

Without setting design software, set designers may need to explain a vision to a member of the team. These members could be stagehands, or those who do not invest in the creativity in the project. Explaining creative processes to those not associated with the project can be a challenging task, but those with adequate communication skills can explain a set and its reasoning to stage members.

Flexibility

Studios may have limitations for designers based on budget, time and scene length. If a scene has a budget, a set designer may not be able to purchase all the props they hope for. If a scene is too short, a designer may want to prioritize other scenes before that one first. Studios may insist that scenes complete quickly due to an approaching deadline. Flexibility help set designers work with an intricate schedule, especially surrounding fast run time projects, such as TV shows.

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