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Career and Education Opportunities for Set and Exhibit Designers in Boston, Massachusetts

If you want to be a set and exhibit designer, the Boston, Massachusetts area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. The national trend for set and exhibit designers sees this job pool growing by about 16.6% over the next eight years. Set and exhibit designers generally design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets.

Set and exhibit designers earn approximately $25 hourly or $53,510 per year on average in Massachusetts. Nationally they average about $21 per hour or $44,660 annually. Incomes for set and exhibit designers are better than in the overall category of Art and Design in Massachusetts, and not quite as good as the overall Art and Design category nationally. Set and exhibit designers work in a variety of jobs, including: stage set designer, scenic arts supervisor, and exhibit preparator.

There are 151 schools of higher education in the Boston area, including fourteen within twenty-five miles of Boston 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 it will take about four years to learn 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 Boston 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.
  • 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

Endicott College - Beverly, MA

Endicott College, 376 Hale St, Beverly, MA 01915. Endicott College is a small college located in Beverly, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,988 students and an admission rate of 48%. Endicott College has a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated fifteen students in 2008.

Gibbs College-Boston - Boston, MA

Gibbs College-Boston, 126 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116. Gibbs College-Boston is a small college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 264 students. Gibbs College-Boston has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated eight students in 2008.

Suffolk University - Boston, MA

Suffolk University, 8 Ashburton Pl Beacon Hill, Boston, MA 02108-2770. Suffolk University is a medium sized university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,783 students and an admission rate of 82%. Suffolk University has a one to two year and a two to four year program in Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties which graduated one and zero students respectively in 2008.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston - Boston, MA

School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston, 230 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115-5596. School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston is a small school located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 696 students and an admission rate of 91%. School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston has a less than one year program in Illustration which graduated one student in 2008.

Fitchburg State College - Fitchburg, MA

Fitchburg State College, 160 Pearl St, Fitchburg, MA 01420-2697. Fitchburg State College is a medium sized college located in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 6,400 students and an admission rate of 66%. Fitchburg State College has 2 areas of study related to Set and Exhibit Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, bachelor's degree which graduated 16 students in 2008.
  • Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology, bachelor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.

Northern Essex Community College - Haverhill, MA

Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott Street, Haverhill, MA 01830-2399. Northern Essex Community College is a medium sized college located in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,020 students. Northern Essex Community College has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated ten students in 2008.

Salem State College - Salem, MA

Salem State College, 352 Lafayette St, Salem, MA 01970. Salem State College is a large college located in Salem, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 10,168 students and an admission rate of 58%. Salem State College has 2 areas of study related to Set and Exhibit Designer. They are:

  • Design and Applied Arts, Other Specialties, bachelor's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.
  • Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology, bachelor's degree which graduated 2 students in 2008.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design - Boston, MA

Massachusetts College of Art and Design, 621 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115-5882. Massachusetts College of Art and Design is a small college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 2,223 students and an admission rate of 51%. Massachusetts College of Art and Design has 2 areas of study related to Set and Exhibit Designer. They are:

  • Design and Visual Communications, bachelor's degree and master's degree which graduated five and two students respectively in 2008.
  • Illustration, bachelor's degree which graduated 28 students in 2008.

Northeastern University - Boston, MA

Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115-5000. Northeastern University is a large university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 25,368 students and an admission rate of 35%. Northeastern University has a bachelor's degree program in Design and Visual Communications.

Brandeis University - Waltham, MA

Brandeis University, 415 South St, Waltham, MA 02454-9110. Brandeis University is a medium sized university located in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 5,347 students and an admission rate of 34%. Brandeis University has a master's degree program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology which graduated six students in 2008.

Bunker Hill Community College - Boston, MA

Bunker Hill Community College, 250 New Rutherford Ave, Boston, MA 02129-2925. Bunker Hill Community College is a medium sized college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 9,500 students. Bunker Hill Community College has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications which graduated fourteen students in 2008.

Boston University - Boston, MA

Boston University, One Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215. Boston University is a large university located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 31,669 students and an admission rate of 59%. Boston University has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology which graduated seventeen and six students respectively in 2008.

Emerson College - Boston, MA

Emerson College, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624. Emerson College is a small college located in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,536 students and an admission rate of 37%. Emerson College has a bachelor's degree program in Technical Theatre/Theatre Design and Technology which graduated twelve students in 2008.

Montserrat College of Art - Beverly, MA

Montserrat College of Art, 23 Essex Street, Beverly, MA 01915-4508. Montserrat College of Art is a small college located in Beverly, Massachusetts. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 292 students. Montserrat College of Art has a two to four year and a bachelor's degree program in Illustration.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts photo by Ahonc

Boston is situated in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. It has a population of over 609,023, which has grown by 3.4% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Boston, 136, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Boston are valued at $216,200 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, twenty-three new homes were constructed in Boston, down from forty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Boston are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, educational services, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 29 minutes. More than 35.6% of Boston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Boston is 8.2%, which is less than Massachusetts's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Boston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.0%, is more than the national average but less than the state average. Brighton Congregational Church, Leslie Lindsay Chapel and Universalist Meeting House are some of the churches located in Boston. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Episcopal Church.

Boston is home to the Metropolitan Water Works Pumping Stations and the Mystic Pier 1 as well as Schoolboy Stadium and Liberty Square. Shopping centers in the area include Legion Shopping Center, Longwood Galleria Shopping Center and Neponset Circle Shopping Center. Visitors to Boston can choose from Federalist Restaurant, Eco-Logical Solutions and Omni Parker Hotel for temporary stays in the area.