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Design

Prop maker

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

Annual Salary

variable

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

42 to 44 variable

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

Day to day tasks

Typically you could:

  • meet with production staff to discuss what props are needed
  • make detailed plans from ideas and rough sketches
  • do historical research to make sure items fit with the time period of the production
  • work with a range of materials to create realistic props
  • use hand and power tools
  • source new props for hire or to buy
  • repair existing props

Working environment

You could work in a workshop, at a TV studio, at a film studio or in a theatre.

Your working environment may be cramped and dusty.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
University

You could take a foundation degree or degree in:

  • prop making
  • scenic arts
  • production arts
  • art and design

The Federation of Drama Schools has information on performance-based higher education courses in UK conservatoires that include production arts.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a foundation diploma in art and design
  • at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
College

You can do a college course that may give you some of the practical skills needed in this job. Course examples include:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Art and Design
  • Level 2 Certificate in Carpentry
  • Level 3 Certificate in Creative Craft
  • Level 3 Diploma in 3D Design and Crafts
  • Level 3 Diploma in Technical Theatre

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could do a props technician advanced apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship takes 18 to 24 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You could start by working in a theatre as a props assistant or technician. In film and TV you would start as an art department trainee.

Practical experience is usually essential to get an assistant job.

Volunteering and work experience

Volunteering for student productions, festivals and amateur theatre is a good way to get experience and make contact with people working in the industry, which could help when looking for jobs.

Direct application

You may also be able to get into prop making after training in related areas like graphic design, furniture making or model-making.

More information

Career tips

Your creative talent and model-making skills will often be as important as formal qualifications.

You can create a portfolio of your work to show your range of skills.

Further information

You can find out more about working in props from Get Into Theatre.

You can also get more information on working in the creative industries from Discover Creative Careers.

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

You could become a prop master and run a props department.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of building and construction
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • knowledge of maths
  • the ability to work on your own
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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