Set Design Degrees

The Advantages To Earning A Set Design Degree

Set designers are responsible for creating the physical settings of theater productions, films, television shows, plays, and exhibits. Set designers are well trained professionals who work closely with directors, technicians, and other designers to ensure the visual spaces for a scene sets the mood, time period, and budget of any production. Qualifying for employment within the dynamic field of set design requires the combination of talent, education, and skill. Most set designers are required to complete a minimum of an associate degree though employment trends lean toward a bachelor degree or higher. Students enrolled within a set design program gain technical information regarding construction, lighting, architecture, design, and drafting as well as the theoretic aspects of art history, communication, the performing arts, and the entertainment industry. Set design programs give students the educational basis necessary to propel personal, educational, and professional goals.

Many colleges offer a variety of programs within the field of set design. As many students manage work and family responsibilities while pursuing a degree, most colleges and universities have developed innovative online degree programs to extend education to students unable to attend on campus instruction. Most online courses consist of virtually the same educational experiences as traditional, brick and mortar courses. Online classes generally offer a more personalized degree with the added benefit of more flexible course scheduling. Online courses generally groups of 25 students 24 hour access to class materials and instruction. Online degree programs offer students some of the most convenient, affordable means of advancing educational and professional goals.

What Students Learn Within A Set Design Degree Program

Students within a set design degree program gain the formal knowledge to function as professionals within the dynamic fields of performing arts and the entertainment industry. Set designers within degree programs learn how to effectively create the physical world of a production to advance to careers working with technicians, other designers, and directors to ensure visual impact for attendees. Set designers must generally complete an associates or bachelor level degree to qualify for entry level employment. Most vocational schools do not offer set design degrees at an associate level.

Students pursuing an associate’s degree with an interest in set design generally major in a related field like visual communication, film and video studies, or technical theater. Courses generally include: design principles, introduction to theater arts, fundamentals of color, introduction to computer design. drawing concepts, typography design, stagecraft, English composition, introduction to scene design and stage lighting, microcomputer applications, introduction to psychology, electronic field production, script development, interpreting contemporary dramatic literature, costume history and design, costume construction and stage make up, acting, principles of management, personal finance, computer information systems, website design, systems analysis and design, music and audio technology, and survey of Western traditions in art. Graduates from an associate’s degree program often advance to bachelor degrees to advance their professional goals within the field of set design.

Courses at a bachelor level include: fundamentals of design; fundamentals of observational drawing; color theory; drawing, proportion, and perspective; image manipulation; form and space; digital illustration; basic drafting; architectural drafting; introduction to AutoCAD; intermediate AutoCAD; perspective and rendering; architecture, interiors, and furniture; set design from concepts to wrap; history of theater and film set design; fabrication techniques; graphic design and typography for exhibition design; scene painting techniques; furniture making; sketch techniques for set and exhibit design; lighting design for TV, film, stage, and public venues; historical scene design, applied scene painting; detailed object fabrication; business and budget breakdown; 3D computer modeling for set and exhibit design; contemporary scene design; digital matte printing for the entertainment industry; set decoration; advanced design for events and exhibitions; art direction and styling; fantasy set design; effective speaking; English composition; visual language and culture; history of costume and decor; opera contexts and culture; and stage production. Bachelor degree graduates generally qualify for entry level employment or advance to master’s degree programs.

Classes at a master’s level, within the discipline of digital exhibit and set design, include: space anthropology; digital stage design; communication architectures; exhibition design; interactive performance; virtual museum; theory and methodology of mass media; history of contemporary theater; visual anthropology; digital animation techniques in 3D modeling and animation; information technology: physical computing: multimedia installations and multimedia performance; sound design; interactive stage design; hypertextual dramaturgy; digital stage design; ethics; research methods; advanced video techniques; and electronic field production. Graduates from a master’s degree program generally qualify as experts within teaching positions at institutions, colleges, and universities or executives within stage or film industries. Graduates who wish to advance studies to a doctoral degree program must choose a field of study related to set design. Many students advance to doctoral degrees in design with specialized courses in technology or architecture.

Courses at a doctoral level include: design proseminar, design research methods, preparation of dissertation proposal, studio art and web design, drawing, advanced theory, visual studies, design and computer analysis of structure, design theories and methods, building technology, design computing, organizational theory, experiential learning, fundamental principles of design, and fundamental principles of knowledge. Graduates who complete doctoral degrees generally work as lead researchers and instructors within colleges and universities.

Prospective Jobs For Set Design Degree Graduates

A set design degree provides graduates with a thorough understanding of the performing arts and entertainment industry. A set design degree provides students with the knowledge and technical skills necessary to work as set designers within various organizations. Prospective jobs for graduates with set design degrees are based upon factors like: level of experience, geographic location, and educational background. Most set design degree graduates work within the entertainment and performing arts industries designing and constructing sets for movies, films, television shows, musicals, plays, operas, and touring musicians. Some graduates work within museums and historical sites designing and constructing exhibits. Graduates with associate degrees often work as assistant set designers in performing arts companies or museums. Graduates with bachelor degrees often work as set designers, promoters, or exhibition designers within film, television, or theater productions. Graduates who complete master degree programs often work as supervisors, directors, or as upper level management within performing arts companies or film and video industries. Some graduates with advanced degrees also work as art directors within museums and institutions. Some graduates with advanced degrees at a master’s or doctoral level also work as instructors within vocational schools, colleges, or universities.

Salary Range For Graduates With Set Design Degrees

Earnings for graduates with set design degrees have earnings reflective of their level of education, area of specialty, related work experiences, and organization of employment. Entry level earnings for beginning set designers are often $1,000 per production depending upon industry of organization. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that more experienced set designers generally earn $40,520 to $62,070 annually. Set designers employed by performing arts companies and museums or historical preservation organizations often have earnings less than those employed within the motion picture and video industries. Graduates who work as promoters of various performing arts, musical, sports, or special events earning $30,210 annually. Graduates with advanced degrees may work as freelance designers with varied annual earnings based upon each performance. Graduates who work within large firms or within well established design businesses often have higher earnings and also receive health, vacation, and retirement benefits.

Career Outlook And Advancement Opportunities For Set Design Degree Graduates

Graduates with set design degrees are expected to find ample job opportunities in the field of set design, stage carpentry, or stage painting within the performing arts and entertainment industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects job growth for set design professionals to increase at an average rate through 2018 though graduates may anticipate heavy competition due to the number of available jobs in comparison to the number of qualified applicants. Graduates with set design degrees often find the best employment opportunities within large cities and within artistic centers. Career stability for set design professionals is dependent upon the number of productions they are hired to design for and many graduates often compensate for career fluctuations by working secondary jobs as stage carpenters, set painters, technical assistants, lighting specialist and other production related jobs.

Entry level exhibit and set designers often advance to positions with greater responsibilities or managerial positions upon distinguishing their skills and knowledge in the field. Many set designers advance to stage director, art director, or teaching positions upon gaining relevant work experience and an increased understanding of the field. As with most design degrees, graduates who refine and establish their skills and creativity through the combination of education and experience often build lasting careers.

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