Set and Exhibit Designers
Design special exhibits and sets for film, video, television, and theater productions. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.
Sample of reported job titles: Designer, Display Coordinator, Exhibit Coordinator, Exhibit Designer, Exhibit Preparator, Historical Society Window Dresser, Installations Designer, Projection Designer, Scenic Designer, Set Designer
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Develop set designs, based on evaluation of scripts, budgets, research information, and available locations.
- Prepare rough drafts and scale working drawings of sets, including floor plans, scenery, and properties to be constructed.
- Prepare preliminary renderings of proposed exhibits, including detailed construction, layout, and material specifications, and diagrams relating to aspects such as special effects or lighting.
- Read scripts to determine location, set, and design requirements.
- Submit plans for approval, and adapt plans to serve intended purposes, or to conform to budget or fabrication restrictions.
- Attend rehearsals and production meetings to obtain and share information related to sets.
- Confer with clients and staff to gather information about exhibit space, proposed themes and content, timelines, budgets, materials, or promotion requirements.
- Research architectural and stylistic elements appropriate to the time period to be depicted, consulting experts for information, as necessary.
- Observe sets during rehearsals in order to ensure that set elements do not interfere with performance aspects such as cast movement and camera angles.
- Collaborate with those in charge of lighting and sound so that those production aspects can be coordinated with set designs or exhibit layouts.
- Select set props, such as furniture, pictures, lamps, and rugs.
- Design and build scale models of set designs, or miniature sets used in filming backgrounds or special effects.
- Examine objects to be included in exhibits to plan where and how to display them.
- Assign staff to complete design ideas and prepare sketches, illustrations, and detailed drawings of sets, or graphics and animation.
- Inspect installed exhibits for conformance to specifications and satisfactory operation of special-effects components.
- Estimate set- or exhibit-related costs, including materials, construction, and rental of props or locations.
- Plan for location-specific issues, such as space limitations, traffic flow patterns, and safety concerns.
- Acquire, or arrange for acquisition of, specimens or graphics required to complete exhibits.
- Design and produce displays and materials that can be used to decorate windows, interior displays, or event locations, such as streets and fairgrounds.
- Direct and coordinate construction, erection, or decoration activities to ensure that sets or exhibits meet design, budget, and schedule requirements.
- Coordinate the transportation of sets that are built off-site, and coordinate their setup at the site of use.
- Confer with conservators to determine how to handle an exhibit’s environmental aspects, such as lighting, temperature, and humidity, so that objects will be protected and exhibits will be enhanced.
- Select and purchase lumber and hardware necessary for set construction.
- Arrange for outside contractors to construct exhibit structures.
- Incorporate security systems into exhibit layouts.
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- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; Autodesk Revit ; Dassault Systemes SolidWorks ; Trimble SketchUp Pro (see all 8 examples)
- Data base management system software — Microsoft SQL Server ; Oracle PL/SQL ; Relational database management system software
- Data base user interface and query software — Microsoft Access ; Oracle software ; Structured query language SQL
- Desktop publishing software — Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign
- Development environment software — Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite; Eclipse IDE ; Microsoft Visual Studio
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- File versioning software — Apache Subversion SVN ; Git
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator ; Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop ; Autodesk Maya; Graphics software (see all 5 examples)
- Object or component oriented development software — C# ; C++ ; Oracle Java ; Python
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — UNIX
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Program testing software — JUnit ; TestNG
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Video creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects ; Adobe Systems Adobe Director; Autodesk 3ds Max; Figure 53 QLab (see all 6 examples)
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Fine Arts — Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Building and Construction — Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
- History and Archeology — Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
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- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Develop artistic or design concepts for decoration, exhibition, or commercial purposes.
- Draw detailed or technical illustrations.
- Determine technical requirements of productions or projects.
- Study scripts to determine project requirements.
- Present work to clients for approval.
- Discuss production content and progress with others.
- Confer with clients to determine needs.
- Conduct research to inform art, designs, or other work.
- Inspect sets or exhibits.
- Collaborate with others to determine technical details of productions.
- Select materials or props.
- Build models, patterns, or templates.
- Design layout of art or product exhibits, displays, or promotional materials.
- Coordinate design activities.
- Coordinate construction or installation activities.
- Estimate costs for projects or productions.
- Coordinate logistics for productions or events.
- Maintain inventories of materials, equipment, or products.
- Construct distinctive physical objects for artistic, functional, or commercial purposes.
- Promote products, activities, or organizations.
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- Electronic Mail — 86% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 90% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 71% responded “Extremely important.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 58% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 58% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 48% responded “Some freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 57% responded “Some freedom.”
- Time Pressure — 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Contact With Others — 48% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 62% responded “Very important.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 48% responded “Every day.”
- Level of Competition — 52% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 38% responded “More than half the time.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 38% responded “More than half the time.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 43% responded “Very important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 62% responded “Moderate results.”
- Letters and Memos — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Physical Proximity — 38% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 33% responded “Limited responsibility.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 48% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
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|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master’s degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|10||Some college, no degree|
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Interest code: AR Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$27.97 hourly, $58,180 annual|
|Employment (2020)||29,700 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||3,100|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Alliance of Museums
- Experiential Designers and Producers Association
- Meeting Professionals International
- National Association for Museum Exhibition
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design
- National Association of Schools of Theatre
- Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
- United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829
- United States Institute for Theatre Technology
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