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Career and Education Opportunities for Set and Exhibit Designers in Columbia, Maryland

Set and exhibit designer career and educational opportunities abound in Columbia, Maryland. There are currently 510 working set and exhibit designers in Maryland; this should grow by 7% to 550 working set and exhibit designers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as 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 $26 hourly or $54,740 per year on average in Maryland. Nationally, their income is about $21 per hour or $44,660 per year. Earnings for set and exhibit designers are better than earnings in the general category of Art and Design in Maryland and not quite as good as general Art and Design category earnings nationally. People working as set and exhibit designers can fill a number of jobs, such as: scenic designer, exhibit preparator, and food stylist.

There are 109 schools of higher education in the Columbia area, including thirteen within twenty-five miles of Columbia 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 training to become 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 Columbia 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.
  • Audio Visual Technician. Set up or set up and operate audio and video equipment including microphones, sound speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, recording equipment, connecting wires and cables, sound and mixing boards, and related electronic equipment for concerts, sports events, meetings and conventions, presentations, and news conferences. May also set up and operate associated spotlights and other custom lighting systems.
  • 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.
  • 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

University of Maryland-Baltimore County - Baltimore, MD

University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250. University of Maryland-Baltimore County is a large university located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 12,268 students and an admission rate of 72%. University of Maryland-Baltimore County has a master's degree program in Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties which graduated four students in 2008.

University of the District of Columbia - Washington, DC

University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008. University of the District of Columbia is a medium sized university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 5,339 students. University of the District of Columbia has a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications.

Sanford-Brown College - Vienna, VA

Sanford-Brown College, 1980 Gallows Rd, Vienna, VA 22182. Sanford-Brown College is a small college located in Vienna, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 736 students. Sanford-Brown College has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated twenty-eight and sixteen students respectively in 2008.

Prince George's Community College - Largo, MD

Prince George's Community College, 301 Largo Rd, Largo, MD 20774-2199. Prince George's Community College is a large college located in Largo, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,005 students. Prince George's Community College has a one to two year program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology which graduated two students in 2008.

Corcoran College of Art and Design - Washington, DC

Corcoran College of Art and Design, 500 Seventeenth St NW, Washington, DC 20006-4804. Corcoran College of Art and Design is a small college located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 943 students and an admission rate of 59%. Corcoran College of Art and Design has a less than one year program in Illustration which graduated one student in 2008.

George Washington University - Washington, DC

George Washington University, 2121 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052. George Washington University is a large university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 25,027 students and an admission rate of 37%. George Washington University has a master's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated one student in 2008.

Stevenson University - Stevenson, MD

Stevenson University, 1525 Greenspring Valley Rd, Stevenson, MD 21153-0641. Stevenson University is a small university located in Stevenson, Maryland. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,435 students and an admission rate of 62%. Stevenson University has a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated thirty-one students in 2008.

University of Baltimore - Baltimore, MD

University of Baltimore, Charles at Mount Royal, Baltimore, MD 21201-208. University of Baltimore is a medium sized university located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,844 students and an admission rate of 50%. University of Baltimore has 2 areas of study related to Set and Exhibit Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, postbaccalaureate certificate and doctor's degree which graduated one and one students respectively in 2008.
  • Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties, postbaccalaureate certificate and master's degree which graduated zero and fifty-one students respectively in 2008.

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated two and twenty-nine students respectively in 2008.

The Art Institute of Washington - Arlington, VA

The Art Institute of Washington, 1820 N Fort Myer Dr, Arlington, VA 22209-1802. The Art Institute of Washington is a small school located in Arlington, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,871 students and an admission rate of 56%. The Art Institute of Washington has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated two and three students respectively in 2008.

University of Maryland-College Park - College Park, MD

University of Maryland-College Park, , College Park, MD 20742. University of Maryland-College Park is a large university located in College Park, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 37,000 students and an admission rate of 39%. University of Maryland-College Park has a master's degree program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology which graduated two students in 2008.

Gallaudet University - Washington, DC

Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695. Gallaudet University is a small university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,389 students and an admission rate of 64%. Gallaudet University has a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated two students in 2008.

Maryland Institute College of Art - Baltimore, MD

Maryland Institute College of Art, 1300 Mount Royal Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217-4134. Maryland Institute College of Art is a small college located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,176 students and an admission rate of 52%. Maryland Institute College of Art has a bachelor's degree program in Illustration which graduated fifty-five students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland photo by Jeff Kubina

Columbia is located in Howard County, Maryland. It has a population of over 96,421. The cost of living index in Columbia, 100, is near the national average.

The three most popular industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 30 minutes. More than 59.0% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 28.7%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 49.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church and Long Reach Interfaith Center are all churches located in Columbia. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Columbia is home to the Symphony Woods Office Center and the Rivers Corporate Park as well as Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Clarksville Environmental Area. Shopping centers in the area include Governor Century Plaza Shopping Center, Atholton Shopping Center and Owen Brown Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Columbia can choose from PFMG, Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Inn Columbia for temporary stays in the area.