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Exhibition designer

Exhibition designers work with organisations and individuals to turn their ideas into engaging displays.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but you’ll usually need a foundation degree, HND or a degree. Relevant courses include:

  • spatial design (exhibitions)
  • interior design
  • three-dimensional (3D) design
  • graphic design

Some other courses offer exhibition design options, like events management and museum and gallery courses. 

You could get into this type of work as a junior design assistant. You’ll usually need a qualification in art and design and experience of using computer-aided design (CAD) software.

You’ll need to create a portfolio of your work to take to interviews. Paid or unpaid work experience will also give you an advantage when applying for training and jobs. You could volunteer to help set up exhibitions, like at local arts festivals or in libraries.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You could take a course in display and visual merchandising. The British Display Society (BDS) has information on courses.

Creative Choices has more information about careers in design.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent design and artistic skills
  • creative skills and logical thinking skills
  • technical drawing skills
  • model making skills
  • project management skills, for more senior roles

3. What you'll do

You could work at:

  • large commercial public exhibitions, like the Ideal Home Show
  • conferences and exhibitions for education, trade and industry
  • temporary displays for businesses, retailers, museums, libraries and galleries

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • discussing requirements with clients
  • presenting your ideas as sketches, scale plans, computer-generated visuals and models
  • producing final blueprints after discussions with clients
  • handling orders for supplies
  • liaising with technical specialists like lighting staff
  • project managing the set-up process from start to finish

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £21,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: Around £40,000

Freelance designers are usually paid a fee for each exhibition.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, but you may need to work extra hours to meet deadlines, especially when events are being staged.

Your work is likely to be studio or office-based, but would usually also involve visiting clients or exhibition sites. In some jobs you may need to travel frequently, in the UK and possibly overseas.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you may be able to progress to a more senior position, like team leader or senior designer. You could also become freelance, or set up your own company.

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Last updated: 07 December 2016