Prop designer, prop builder, props technician
Prop makers create objects for use in films, TV programmes and the theatre.
Salary range: Variable
How to become a prop maker
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You could take a foundation degree or degree in:
- prop making
- scenic arts
- production arts
- art and design
You’ll usually need:
- a foundation diploma in art and design
- at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You can do a college course to get some of the skills needed in this job. Course examples include:
- Level 2 Diploma in Art and Design
- Level 2 Certificate in Carpentry
- Level 3 Certificate in Creative Craft
- Level 3 Diploma in 3D Design and Crafts
You may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You could do a props technician advanced apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship takes 18 to 24 months to complete.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You could start by working in a theatre as a props assistant or technician. In film and TV you would start as an art department trainee.
Practical experience is usually essential to get an assistant job.
Volunteering and experience
Volunteering for student productions, festivals and amateur theatre is a good way to get experience and make contact with people working in the industry, which could help when looking for jobs.
You may also be able to get into prop making after training in related areas like graphic design, furniture making or model-making.
Your creative talent and model-making skills will often be more important than formal qualifications.
You can find out more about working in props from ScreenSkills and Creative Choices.
You can also get more information on working in the creative industries from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of building and construction
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- knowledge of maths
- the ability to work well with others
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- the ability to work on your own
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- discussing what props are needed
- interpreting plans, from rough sketches to detailed designs
- carrying out historical research to make authentic-looking items
- experimenting with different materials to create effects like ageing
- using power tools
- hiring, buying or repairing props
You could work in a workshop, at a TV studio, at a film studio or in a theatre.
Your working environment may be cramped and dusty.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could move into set design, production design or stage management.