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Career profile Production Designer

Also known as Designer, Display Coordinator, Exhibit Designer, Exhibit Preparator, Production Designer, Scenic Designer, Set Decorator, Set Designer

Production Designer

Also known as Designer, Display Coordinator, Exhibit Designer

Interests Profile
  • Artistic
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$30,180 - $106,230 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Fine Arts
  • Design
  • Computers and Electronics
Core tasks
  • 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.
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What does a Production Designer do?

Production Designers design special exhibits and sets for film, video, television, and theater productions.

In addition, Production Designers may study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

What kind of tasks does a Production Designer perform regularly?

Production Designers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • 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.

The above responsibilities are specific to Production Designers. More generally, Production Designers are involved in several broader types of activities:

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.

What is a Production Designer salary?

The median salary for a Production Designer is $58,180, and the average salary is $64,610. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Production Designer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Production Designers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Production Designers earn less than $30,180 per year, 25% earn less than $38,790, 75% earn less than $82,780, and 90% earn less than $106,230.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Production Designers is expected to change by 9.1%, and there should be roughly 3,100 open positions for Production Designers every year.

Median annual salary
$58,180
Typical salary range
$30,180 - $106,230
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
9.1%

What personality traits are common among Production Designers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Production Designer are usually higher in their Artistic and Realistic interests.

Production Designers typically have very strong Artistic interests. 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.

Also, Production Designers typically have strong Realistic interests. 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.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Production Designer tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Production Designers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Production Designers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Production Designers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Production Designers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Production Designers, ranked by importance:

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.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Production Designers need?

Many Production Designers have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Production Designers may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Production Designers

  • 1.8% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 7.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 16.1% completed some college coursework
  • 13.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 45.6% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 13.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 2.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Production Designers

Production Designers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as fine arts, design, or computers and electronics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Production Designers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

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.

Important Abilities needed by Production Designers

Production Designers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Production Designers need abilities such as fluency of ideas, oral comprehension, and visualization in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Production Designers, ranked by their relative importance.

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.

Critical Skills needed by Production Designers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Production Designers frequently use skills like active listening, reading comprehension, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Production Designers, ranked by their relative importance.

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.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.