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Model maker

Model makers design and make 3D scale models to show how buildings or products will look.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements.

Employers will usually want you to have model making skills and a portfolio of work.

It may be useful to have an HNC, HND, foundation degree or degree in graphic design, model making, 3D design or art and design.

Experience in areas like engineering, electronics, carpentry, sculpture or furniture making might be useful. Some employers may expect you to be working as an architectural technician, or toward a relevant qualification.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to visualise designs in 3D
  • drawing and IT skills
  • the ability to read and understand plans and technical drawings
  • practical skills to use hand and power tools
  • a methodical, thorough and patient approach

3. What you'll do

You’ll make models for different uses, including:

  • architectural design – scale models of new and existing building designs
  • product design – models of new products, for testing before production
  • visual effects design – models used in special effects or to show set designs in TV, film and theatre

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • discussing the brief with the designer or client
  • using freehand drawing skills or computer-aided design (CAD) to illustrate initial ideas
  • using a range of hand, power and machine tools and computerised equipment to make models
  • using electronics or mechanical methods to make working models with moving parts
  • carrying out finishing processes like hand colouring or spray painting

You’ll use: 

  • a range of materials like metal, wood, plastic, clay, card, resin and plaster to create models
  • computerised techniques, like laser cutting or 3D printing, to get the right size and shape for your model parts
You might also model the surrounding area to show how the building will fit in with its environment.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £25,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £30,000 (head of model making)

As a freelance model maker you’ll agree a fee for each project with your client.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You may work long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.

You’ll usually be based in a workshop or studio. 

Some of the materials you use may produce dust or unpleasant or dangerous fumes, so you’ll need to wear a protective mask and gloves at times.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could lead a team of model makers.

As a self-employed model maker you could become an agent for other model makers.

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Last updated: 14 December 2016