How to become an Exhibition Designer. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Exhibition Designer do?
As an exhibition designer, you would design displays and stands for events such as:
- large public exhibitions like the Ideal Home Show
- conferences and exhibitions for trade and industry
- temporary displays for businesses, museums, libraries and galleries.
Your work could include:
- discussing requirements with clients
- presenting your ideas as sketches, scale plans, computer-generated visuals and models
- producing final specifications after discussion with clients
- handling orders for supplies
- liaising with technical specialists such as lighting staff.
In smaller companies, you would oversee the construction of the exhibition components (usually in a workshop), and assembly and installation at the exhibition venue.
Your basic working day is likely to be 9am to 5pm, but you may need to work extra hours to meet deadlines.
Your work would be studio- or office-based, but would usually also involve visiting clients or exhibition sites. In some jobs you may need to travel extensively, in this country and/or abroad.
How much does an Exhibition Designer earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Newly-qualified designers can earn around £18,000 a year.
- Experienced designers can earn between £23,000 and around £52,000.
Freelance designers are usually paid a fee for each exhibition.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You may be able to enter exhibition design at junior assistant level. It will be an advantage if you have interest and ability in areas such as computer aided design (CAD) and photography.
For both courses and jobs you would need to show evidence of your design ability, so you should put together a portfolio of your art and design work before applying either for work or training.
Many employers will expect you to have a formal qualification. The British Display Society (BDS) offers vocational qualifications including a range of design certificates. See the BDS website for details.
At higher education level, you can complete degrees, HNDs and foundation degrees in design-related subjects. Degrees in exhibition design are available at a limited number of universities. Other relevant degree subjects include:
- spatial design
- interior design
- three dimensional (3D) design
- graphic design.
To search for foundation degree, HND and degree courses, see UCAS website.
Entry requirements for courses may vary, so you should check with colleges and universities for their specific requirements. If you do not have formal qualifications you may be considered if you can show exceptional talent through your portfolio and experience.
Training and Development
You may be able to take part in a graduate training scheme with larger companies. Other training opportunities will depend on your employer and the size of the company.
Organisations such as D&AD run courses, workshops and design award schemes for members, which you may find useful for professional development. For example, D&AD runs Workout, a range of one-day development courses. Visit the D&AD website for details.
You may find it useful to join a professional organisation such as the Chartered Society of Designers, as this will give you access to advice, and opportunities for ongoing training and development and networking.
Skills and Knowledge
- design and artistic skills
- the ability to think creatively and laterally
- technical drawing skills
- the ability to use computer design packages
- model making skills
- the ability to work to tight deadlines
- good communication skills
- mathematical skills
- awareness of health and safety issues
- teamworking ability.
You could be employed as part of a team in an exhibition design practice. Other employers include museums with their own design departments and large retailers.
With experience you may be able to progress to a more senior position, such as team leader or senior designer.
You could also become freelance, in which case your success would depend on building up your contacts and reputation.