USA Career Guide - Set Designer

Education and Training of a Set Designer in the US

  • Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.
  • Training in scenic design programs is essential. Programs in set designing include drawing, painting, model building, hand drafting and computer-aided drawing. 
  • A set designer should develop a professional portfolio
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 post-secondary institutions with programs in art and design. The National Association of Schools of Theater accredits more than 150 programs in theater arts.

Related Instructional Programs for Set Designers in USA

  • Design and Visual Communications
  • Illustration
  • Technical Theater/Theater Design and Technology

 Pay of a Set Designer in the US

Median annual wages, May 2010

Set and Exhibit Designers: $46,680

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics)

Industry Overview

Set and exhibit designers are expected to have a good time as employment in this career is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020. With the increase in the number of private museums in USA, demand for exhibit designers is expected to rise sharply by almost 17 percent over the next 10 years. Many set designers are also showing a trend to work as freelancers rather than being associated with design firms.

Set and exhibit designers usually work on multiple projects at a time or move from one short-term project to another. Work on a major motion picture may last for a year while work on a television show may provide several months of employment. Live theatrical performance set designers work on a year-round contract for stage productions and performances of ballets and concerts.

Job Prospects of a Set and Exhibit Designer in the US

Set designers can find work in:

  • Museums
  • Galleries and Science Centers
  • Theater Production Companies
  • Television Companies
  • Dance Troupes
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