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The average salary of a set designer

Updated April 17, 2017

Mainly employed in film-making, performing arts such as live theatre and the museum industry. These designers are responsible for creating the backdrops for films, television programmes and plays.

Theatre set designer

The average, or mean, wages earned by set and exhibit designers is difficult to pinpoint because the majority of designers work on a freelance basis and each can command a rate that matches their reputation in the industry. A reasonable starting salary in the field is about £15,000 a year. Daily rates for independent set designers working in the theatre in the UK range from £350.05 per day for an assistant designer, to £460.68 per day for a head of design. Designers who have to travel in a touring production or work overseas command higher rates.

TV set designer

Set designers working in television production in the UK generally earn more than theatre set designers. The BBC is a major employer of set designers and offers the best opportunities for fixed employment. The UK television production industry includes a large number of independent production companies, all of which have varying rates of pay and keep the amount they are willing to pay very close to their chest.

Film and video production

The film and video industry is the highest-paying sector in the field of set design. Blockbuster TV serials that involve co-production with big budget companies like HBO are usually categorised as "films" rather than TV series. Set designers in this sector lucky enough to get a permanent position can expect an average annual salary of about £42,000 a year.

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About the Author

A professional writer since 1997, Ian Graham has created educational guidebooks, English as a second language learning tools and interesting facts for the Web. He graduated from the University of Victoria's Department of Writing and currently works as a reporter and photographer for a twice-weekly newspaper north of the 55th parallel.