Set and Exhibit Designers

Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications > Visual Arts

Projected Growth: Average

Projected Job Openings

Extensive Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

Common job titles of Set and Exhibit Designers include:

Experience and Education

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.

  • 39.13% said they needed a Bachelor's Degree.

  • 26.09% said they needed a Master's Degree.


    Attend rehearsals and production meetings to obtain and share information related to sets.

    Design and build scale models of set designs, or miniature sets used in filming backgrounds or special effects.

    Observe sets during rehearsals in order to ensure that set elements do not interfere with performance aspects such as cast movement and camera angles.

    Assign staff to complete design ideas and prepare sketches, illustrations, and detailed drawings of sets, or graphics and animation.

    Select set props, such as furniture, pictures, lamps, and rugs.

    Research architectural and stylistic elements appropriate to the time period to be depicted, consulting experts for information, as necessary.

    Collaborate with those in charge of lighting and sound so that those production aspects can be coordinated with set designs or exhibit layouts.

    Select and purchase lumber and hardware necessary for set construction.

    Prepare preliminary renderings of proposed exhibits, including detailed construction, layout, and material specifications, and diagrams relating to aspects such as special effects or lighting.

    Plan for location-specific issues, such as space limitations, traffic flow patterns, and safety concerns.

    Inspect installed exhibits for conformance to specifications and satisfactory operation of special-effects components.

    Direct and coordinate construction, erection, or decoration activities to ensure that sets or exhibits meet design, budget, and schedule requirements.

    Develop set designs, based on evaluation of scripts, budgets, research information, and available locations.

    Estimate set- or exhibit-related costs, including materials, construction, and rental of props or locations.

    Confer with clients and staff to gather information about exhibit space, proposed themes and content, timelines, budgets, materials, or promotion requirements.

    Prepare rough drafts and scale working drawings of sets, including floor plans, scenery, and properties to be constructed.

    Acquire, or arrange for acquisition of, specimens or graphics required to complete exhibits.

    Examine objects to be included in exhibits to plan where and how to display them.

    Coordinate the transportation of sets that are built off-site, and coordinate their setup at the site of use.

    Incorporate security systems into exhibit layouts.

    Read scripts to determine location, set, and design requirements.

    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.

    Coordinate the removal of sets, props, and exhibits after productions or events are complete.

    Submit plans for approval, and adapt plans to serve intended purposes, or to conform to budget or fabrication restrictions.

    Provide supportive materials for exhibits and displays, such as press kits, advertising, publicity notices, posters, brochures, catalogues, and invitations.

    Arrange for outside contractors to construct exhibit structures.

    Design and produce displays and materials that can be used to decorate windows, interior displays, or event locations, such as streets and fairgrounds.


Tablet computers

Synthetic web slings

Sound mixing boards

Sewing machines

Rotary saws

Portable stepladders

Portable air compressors

All Tools

Pneumatic nail guns

Personal computers

Paint application rollers

Liquid crystal display LCD projectors

Laptop computers


General purpose paintbrushes

Furniture staplers

Electric arc welding equipment

Digital still cameras

Claw hammers

All-purpose scissors

Airbrush paint applicators


Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign

Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop

Apache Subversion SVN

Autodesk AutoCAD

Autodesk Revit

All Technologies


Computer aided design and drafting CADD software

Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS

Eclipse IDE




Microsoft SQL Server

Nemetschek Vectorworks Spotlight

Oracle PL/SQL


Trimble SketchUp Pro


Act-3D Quest3D

Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Systems Adobe Director

Autodesk 3ds Max

Autodesk Maya

AutoDesSys form Z

Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite

Figure 53 QLab

Graphics software


McNeel Rhino software

Microsoft Visual C#

Oracle software

Relational database management system software



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.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Operations Analysis

Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.

Time Management

Managing one's own time and the time of others.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Using mathematics to solve problems.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.


Teaching others how to do something.

Service Orientation

Actively looking for ways to help people.

Systems Analysis

Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Management of Financial Resources

Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.

Management of Material Resources

Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.

Management of Personnel Resources

Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.


Come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Fluency of Ideas

Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Originality

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.

Cognitive Abilities › Spatial Abilities › Visualization

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

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