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Creative and Media

Ways in

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Find out about the ways into jobs in:

Art, design and craft industries

Cultural heritage

Media, interactive media, print and publishing 

Performance arts and music

Ways in to the art, design and craft industries...

  • There are job opportunities at every entry level. Some entrants have few formal qualifications, but there is strong competition for jobs in this sector and many enter with specific art and design qualifications.
  • There are many relevant design, art and craft courses ranging from GCSEs/S grades to those leading to degrees and postgraduate qualifications. Employers and college admissions tutors usually expect to see a portfolio of work as well.
  • Creative Apprenticeships may be available with some employers. See the Creative & Cultural Skills Careers website for details about training and entry requirements for creative Apprenticeships.

Fine artists

  • Although self-employed artists do not need formal training, in practice most have a qualification such as a foundation degree, degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in art and design or fine art. These are offered across the UK in universities and art colleges.
  • Fine art graduates often go on to study at postgraduate level, completing a Masters degree or Masters of Fine Arts (MFA).


  • There are no specific academic qualifications required to become a goldsmith/silversmith. However, most entrants have an artistic background or a qualification in applied art and design, design and technology or craft.
  • There are also degree courses in jewellery and silversmithing and metalwork.

Graphic designers

  • Although there are no set entry requirements, most graphic designers have a degree or diploma. This may be in graphic design, illustration, fine art or a related subject. There are many courses at universities and arts colleges across the UK.
  • With enthusiasm and a strong portfolio of work, it may be possible to enter without a degree or diploma. However, qualifications make career progression easier.

Technical illustrator

  • Most technical illustrators have an HND or degree in graphic design, illustration or art and design. Some courses provide options to specialise in technical illustration.

Product designers

  • Employers would look for creative skills, technical knowledge and the candidate's ability to work to a design brief. Taking a foundation degree, degree or HNC/HND in product design is the main route in. More generic design qualifications are also available offering modules in product design.
  • Other product designers may take a more technical or industrial-focused qualification, such as engineering, automotive or fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) design.

There are also postgraduate courses in specialist areas of product design, which could provide a route in for people with degrees in other design disciplines.

Ways In to cultural heritage jobs...

Creative Apprenticeships may be available - one of the pathways on offer is Cultural and Heritage Venue Operations, which covers:

  • Front of house staff and administration
  • Attendant or gallery staff
  • Customer/visitor service staff
  • Guide demonstrators
  • Sales staff
  • Schools liaison

See the Creative & Cultural Skills Careers website for details about training and entry requirements for creative Apprenticeships.


  • Around 90 per cent of archaeologists are graduates. Archaeology can be studied as a single honours degree or combined with subjects such as ancient or medieval history, geography or anthropology.

Art exhibition organisers

  • Art exhibition organisers usually need a degree. This is normally in a relevant subject such as fine art, art history or archaeology. Some entrants also have a professional postgraduate qualification.


  • Conservators/restorers usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification. There are specific qualifications in conservation, and related subjects such as chemistry are also relevant.

Museum assistants/technicians and visitor services assistants

  • There are no set academic requirements for entry to these jobs. Employers will generally look for people with a strong interest in the subject area of the museum/gallery collection.
  • However, some larger museums and galleries ask for at least four GCSEs (A*-E) or equivalent qualifications, while others may require candidates to have a foundation degree in museum and gallery studies or a degree in, for example, arts and cultural/heritage management, history of art, or museum and gallery studies.

Museum/art gallery curators

  • Most curators have a degree and many hold a postgraduate qualification as well. Qualifications are often in related subjects such as arts and cultural/heritage management, history of art, museum and heritage studies or archaeology.

Ways in to media, interactive media, print and publishing...

  • Creative Apprenticeships may be available with some employers. See the Creative & Cultural Skills Careers website for details about training and entry requirements for creative Apprenticeships.


  • Most animators have a degree or HNC/HND in animation or a related subject. However, experience and a track record of working on productions made by respected companies are often more important than qualifications. Animators are hired on the strength of their work and talent, normally demonstrated by a showreel.

Computer games designers

  • There are no set entry requirements for this job, but the majority of computer games designers are graduates. A consultation carried out by Skillset with employers in 2007 reports that employers prefer applicants with degrees in subjects such as games programming, games art, animation, computer science, maths, physics and design disciplines.
  • It is not normally possible to become a computer games designer without relevant experience in the industry. Employers usually expect to see a portfolio of work, including completed game projects or written game design documents and proposals.
  • An Apprenticeship is available in QA and games production for the computer games industry (see for details).

Interactive media designers

  • Most entrants are graduates. A degree or postgraduate qualification in an art and design-related subject, such as graphic or multimedia design, is particularly useful. More technical subjects like computer science, mathematics, physics or psychology are also valued.
  • Although most interactive media designers have degrees, experience is highly valued, and a portfolio of interactive media work is essential.

Photographic technicians

  • There are no set entry requirements to work as a photographic technician - although qualifications in technical, photography, digital imaging and scientific subjects are an advantage. Information about photo imaging training, courses and qualifications can be found on the Skillset website.

 Publishing editors

  • Most publishing editors have a degree and a background in journalism or editing.
  • Some undergraduate and postgraduate courses are accredited by the industry-backed National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) for newspaper journalism and the Periodicals Training Council for magazine journalism.
  • Some journalists are recruited direct from school or college - or increasingly after a degree - and do two years' training, during which they take courses leading to the qualifications of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Sound technicians

  • There are no specific qualifications for sound technicians, but most have completed a technical course or degree, such as the City and Guilds Certificate and Diploma in sound and music technology , BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in media production (sound recording), or a degree in film and TV production, audio and recording technology, sound engineering or music technology.
  • Practical experience is essential to build up a portfolio of experience, together with a CD demo or DVD showreel of their work. 

TV/Film production assistants

  • There are no set educational requirements to begin a career as a production assistant, but entry is very competitive so many new entrants have qualifications, such as Higher National Certificates/Diplomas (HNCs/HNDs) and degrees. The Skillset website has a comprehensive training and courses database.

Ways in to performance arts and music...

Creative Apprenticeships may be available - pathways on offer include:

  • Music - live Events and Promotion
  • Music Business
  • Technical Theatre
  • Costume and Wardrobe

See the Creative & Cultural Skills Careers website for details about training and entry requirements for creative Apprenticeships.


  • There is no set route to becoming an actor and it is possible to enter the profession without formal qualifications. However, nearly all professional actors have trained, often in specialist drama schools.
  • The National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) accredits drama courses, including three-year full-time acting and musical theatre courses, and one or two-year postgraduate courses. Accredited courses can lead to full membership of Equity. Getting on these courses is very competitive and there are far more applicants than places.


  • There are no set academic entry requirements, and there are a variety of routes into entertainment.  Entertainers may start by doing a formal training course, entering talent competitions, working at holiday centres and theme parks or performing at local clubs.
  • The Magic Circle has a Young Magicians' Club for people aged 10 to 18, with regular practical workshops. Other specialist entertainment organisations may run similar schemes.

Lighting technicians

  • It is possible to qualify as a lighting technician by doing a vocational qualification or a degree. Degree subjects such as electrical engineering or physics may be useful or there are specialist degree courses in lighting design, lighting technology, sound, light and live event technology, theatre arts - lighting and sound operation or theatre and performance technology. See the British Film Institute (BFI)/Skillset Media Courses Directory on the Skillset website for further information.

Make-up artists

  • Most make-up artists have undertaken training. There is a wide range of relevant courses at various levels in hairdressing, make-up and beauty therapy.
  • It is essential to gain practical experience. Courses may include work placements and relevant experience can also be gained in amateur or fringe theatre, student films and photography projects, charity or student fashion shows.

Music promotions managers

  • There is no one route into this type of work and no specific qualifications are needed. Practical work experience is often valued more by potential employers.
  • Relevant foundation degrees, BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and degrees are available at colleges and universities. A degree in music industry management (also with a marketing option) is also available.

 Popular musicians

  • It is very difficult to make a first break into the music industry as a performer, and there is no set training for popular musicians.
  • Individuals and bands can approach record and music publishing companies with a demo CD of their work. There are also talent competitions. Some musicians make their work available via the web to build a fan-base in the hope of being spotted.
  • There are many courses and qualifications available in popular music, including BTEC qualifications in music, HNC/HND courses or foundation degrees or degrees in a wide range of music/performance related subjects.

Stage managers

  • There is no set entry route into stage management. Previous experience in performing or as backstage crew can be valuable. It may be possible to enter work as a stage assistant or backstage crew via the new creative Apprenticeships technical theatre pathway.
  • Degrees, foundation degrees and HNDs in subjects such as stage management, theatre production and technical theatre, drama or music. could also provide a useful background.


For more information about the courses on offer locally for 14-19 year olds why visit your local area prospectus? -

For courses in higher education check out the UCAS site

For Apprenticeships see the vacancies on the National Apprenticeship website

You can also ring the Barnsley Connexions Centre for information on local Apprenticeships on 01226 205686

Want to find out more about the range of employability skills asked for by employers?