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Prop maker Prop designer, prop builder

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Prop makers create objects for use in films, TV programmes and the theatre.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but many prop makers start their career with a qualification in production arts, prop making, technical theatre or set design.

Experience volunteering at events like student productions, festivals and amateur theatre could help you make industry contacts and find work.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship. Some arts organisations like the Royal Opera House also offer apprenticeships.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • model-making skills
  • the ability to follow instructions and use your imagination to interpret ideas
  • the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) packages
  • budgeting skills
  • practical skills like carpentry, sewing, painting, welding

3. What you'll do

You could work for a film studio, TV production company, theatre or touring theatre company.

You'll make anything from fake jewellery to replica weapons or moving models. You'll work with materials like metal, wood and textiles.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • discussing what props are needed
  • interpreting plans, from rough sketches to detailed designs
  • carrying out historical research to make authentic-looking items
  • experimenting with different materials to create effects like ageing
  • using power tools
  • hiring, buying or repairing props

4. Salary

You'll usually be self-employed, working as a freelancer on a daily or weekly rate. It can vary widely, as you can negotiate your own fees.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) suggests a weekly rate from £750.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your hours will depend on the needs of the production you're working on. You may need to put in long hours to meet deadlines.

You could work in a workshop or backstage at a theatre, or film or TV set. Working conditions may be cramped and dusty. You may have to work with chemicals like glues and paints.

You'll need to travel to visit suppliers and carry out research.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into set design, production design or stage management.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018