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Career and Education Opportunities for Set and Exhibit Designers in San Francisco, California

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for set and exhibit designers in the San Francisco, California area. Currently, 2,300 people work as set and exhibit designers in California. This is expected to grow 17% to about 2,700 people by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for set and exhibit designers are expected to grow by about 16.6%. Set and exhibit designers generally design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets.

Income for set and exhibit designers is about $24 hourly or $50,930 annually on average in California. Nationally, their income is about $21 hourly or $44,660 per year. Incomes for set and exhibit designers are not quite as good as in the overall category of Art and Design in California, and not quite as good as the overall Art and Design category nationally. Jobs in this field include: museum curator, exhibits manager, and scenic designer.

There are eighty-six schools of higher education in the San Francisco area, including ten within twenty-five miles of San Francisco where you can get a degree to start your career as a set and exhibit designer. Set and exhibit designers usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years studying to be a set and exhibit designer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Set and Exhibit Designer

Set and Exhibit Designer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, set and exhibit designers design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. They also may study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

Set and exhibit designers estimate set- or exhibit-related costs including materials and rental of props or locations. They also direct and schedule construction, erection, or decoration efforts in order to insure that sets or exhibits meet layout and schedule requirements. Equally important, set and exhibit designers have to talk with clients and staff so as to gather data related to exhibit space, proposed themes and content and/or promotion requirements. They are often called upon to acquire, or manage acquisition of, specimens or graphics required to finish exhibits. They are expected to submit plans for approval, and adapt plans to serve intended purposes, or to conform to budget or fabrication restrictions. Finally, set and exhibit designers design for location-specific issues such as space limitations, traffic flow patterns, and safety concerns.

Every day, set and exhibit designers are expected to be able to visualize how things come together and can be organized. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for set and exhibit designers to layout and produce displays and materials that can be used to decorate windows or event locations such as streets and fairgrounds. They are often called upon to direct the removal of sets and exhibits after productions or events are complete. They also research architectural and stylistic elements appropriate to the time period to be depicted, consulting experts for data as needed. They are sometimes expected to decide on and purchase lumber and hardware needed for set construction. Somewhat less frequently, set and exhibit designers are also expected to observe sets during rehearsals in order to insure that set elements do not interfere with performance aspects such as cast movement and camera angles.

and design set designs on the basis of evaluation of scripts and available locations. And finally, they sometimes have to ready rough drafts and scale working drawings of sets, including floor plans and properties to be constructed.

Like many other jobs, set and exhibit designers must believe in innovation and creative thought and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in San Francisco include:

  • Art Director. Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.
  • Camera Operator. Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Choreographer. Create and teach dance. May direct and stage presentations.
  • Craftsman. Create or reproduce hand-made objects for sale and exhibition using a variety of techniques, such as welding, weaving, and needlecraft.
  • Dancer. Perform dances. May also sing or act.
  • Director. Interpret script, conduct rehearsals, and direct activities of cast and technical crew for stage, motion pictures, or radio programs.
  • Display Specialist. Plan and erect commercial displays.
  • Fashion Designer. Design clothing and accessories. Create original garments or design garments that follow well established fashion trends. May develop the line of color and kinds of materials.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Florist. Design, cut, and arrange live, dried, or artificial flowers and foliage.
  • Graphic Designer. Design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. May use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.
  • Industrial Designer. Develop and design manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and children's toys. Combine artistic talent with research on product use, marketing, and materials to create the most functional and appealing product design.
  • Interior Designer. Plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. Formulate design which is practical, aesthetic, and conducive to intended purposes, such as raising productivity, selling merchandise, or improving life style. May specialize in a particular field, style, or phase of interior design.
  • Multi-Media Artist or Animator. Create special effects, animation, or other visual images using film, video, or other electronic tools and media for use in products or creations, such as computer games, movies, and commercials.
  • Photographer. Photograph persons, subjects, or other commercial products. May develop negatives and produce finished prints.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Set and Exhibit Designer Training

Las Positas College - Livermore, CA

Las Positas College, 3033 Collier Cyn Rd, Livermore, CA 94551-7650. Las Positas College is a medium sized college located in Livermore, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,098 students. Las Positas College has an associate's degree program in Illustration.

Diablo Valley College - Pleasant Hill, CA

Diablo Valley College, 321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. Diablo Valley College is a large college located in Pleasant Hill, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 19,768 students. Diablo Valley College has an associate's degree and a two to four year program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology.

College of Marin - Kentfield, CA

College of Marin, 835 College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904-2590. College of Marin is a medium sized college located in Kentfield, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,577 students. College of Marin has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications.

San Francisco Art Institute - San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94133-2299. San Francisco Art Institute is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 592 students and an admission rate of 71%. San Francisco Art Institute has bachelor's degree, postbaccalaureate certificate, and master's degree programs in Design and Visual Communications which graduated zero, zero, and seven students respectively in 2008.

Academy of Art University - San Francisco, CA

Academy of Art University, 79 New Montgomery, San Francisco, CA 94105. Academy of Art University is a large university located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 13,335 students. Academy of Art University has associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree programs in Illustration which graduated seven, fifty-five, and eleven students respectively in 2008.

University of California-Berkeley - Berkeley, CA

University of California-Berkeley, , Berkeley, CA 94720. University of California-Berkeley is a large university located in Berkeley, California. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 35,353 students and an admission rate of 23%. University of California-Berkeley has a master's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated two students in 2008.

California College of the Arts - Oakland, CA

California College of the Arts, 5212 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94618-1487. California College of the Arts is a small college located in Oakland, California. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,688 students. California College of the Arts has 3 areas of study related to Set and Exhibit Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, master's degree which graduated 10 students in 2008.
  • Illustration, bachelor's degree which graduated 19 students in 2008.
  • Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree which graduated 6 students in 2008.

Chabot College - Hayward, CA

Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545. Chabot College is a large college located in Hayward, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,299 students. Chabot College has an associate's degree program in Illustration.

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

The Art Institute of California-San Francisco, 1170 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102-4908. The Art Institute of California-San Francisco is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,558 students and an admission rate of 41%. The Art Institute of California-San Francisco has a master's degree program in Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties which graduated four students in 2008.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco, 55 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108-5805. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco is a small school located in San Francisco, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 900 students and an admission rate of 67%. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising-San Francisco has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated sixty students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California photo by Optigan13

San Francisco is located in San Francisco County, California. It has a population of over 808,976, which has grown by 4.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in San Francisco, 180, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in San Francisco cost $218,300 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, fifty-seven new homes were built in San Francisco, up from fifty-five the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in San Francisco are professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average travel time to work is about 31 minutes. More than 45.0% of San Francisco residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.4%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of San Francisco residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 41.8%, is less than both the national and state average. Gold Mountain Monastery, Golden Gate Community Church of the Nazarene and Golden Gate Lutheran Church are among the churches located in San Francisco. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the United Methodist Church.

San Francisco is home to the Pier 88 and the Prayer Book Cross as well as Helen Wills Playground and Music Concourse. Shopping malls in the area include Yerba Buena Square Shopping Center, Fox Plaza Shopping Center and Galleria At Crocker Center Shopping Center. Visitors to San Francisco can choose from Astoria Hotel, A-1 Inn Motel and Best Western Canterbury Hotel for temporary stays in the area.