Creative ability and enthusiasm for the arts are essential - but what else do you need to successfully land a job in this highly-competitive field?

A relevant degree is required for most occupations within this sector.

For art and design roles, a portfolio to demonstrate your work will also be necessary. A practical degree in art or design is the most usual route to develop a portfolio relevant to what employers in the sector are looking for.

For performing arts roles, such as acting and dancing, talent and experience can be just as important as qualifications, but a degree from an established drama school can increase your chances of employment.

For museum and art gallery roles, a degree in art history, museum studies or heritage studies is desirable. A subject relevant to museum or gallery collections would also be useful, for example, fine art, history or photography.

The Creative Skillset Courses Directory lists accredited degree and postgraduate courses that are endorsed by industry. This website is also a good source of information on design, creative and media careers.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

Graduate employers in the creative arts and design sector require candidates with:

  • creative ideas and ability;
  • strong communication skills;
  • ability to work in a team;
  • practical and technical skills, including associated software, e.g. Photoshop, CAD;
  • innovation.

Where can I get work experience?

In many cases, voluntary work, work experience or internships are the usual route into employment in this sector.

The Design Council sometimes advertises internships. Some of the larger organisations or design consultancies in the sector, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, provide paid internships. However, you may need to make speculative enquiries to find work experience.

Taking a residency or moving into a shared studio space can provide opportunities to network or work alongside or assist established artists and designers. You can find information at Artquest.

If you want to work in the fashion industry, experience in fashion retail is considered extremely valuable. You can learn about the styles, looks and brands customers prefer. You should also attend exhibitions and events such as London Fashion Week. This will provide networking opportunities and a chance to keep up-to-date with fashion trends and brands.

Taking part in competitions can be a way to gain experience and get noticed. The Design Council advertises design challenges where young designers can contribute ideas and solutions to design briefs. It also offers conferences, workshops, events and talks.

To find work placements and internships in the creative arts and design sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in the creative arts and design sector?

Some large organisations in retail, fashion and manufacturing - such as Harrods, Marks & Spencer and Jaguar Land Rover - offer graduate schemes in design. Museums sometimes offer traineeships for assistant curators. Creative Skillset advertises trainee placements for animation, film, games design, TV and visual effects (VFX).

However, in many cases jobs are not formally advertised and you will need to build up contacts by networking, making speculative enquiries, phoning employers and being prepared to undertake work experience, which in some cases can lead to paid employment.

Jobs are advertised on university careers service vacancy lists. Creative Opportunities, the University of the Arts London’s jobs and internships website, is open to public access and is particularly useful. The careers and employability service at the University for the Creative Arts job and internship board is also worthwhile. In addition, you can find vacancies on company websites and through organisations such as the Arts Council England jobs site and specialist websites such as Design Week.

To increase your chances of finding work or to move towards self-employment, you could consider showcasing your work on websites such as Hiive, or create your own website where you can show an online portfolio. At the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), you can post your CV and add your details to 'Find a Designer' to market yourself. Writing a blog to communicate your ideas and feature your designs can be effective, particularly for fashion design.

To find jobs in the creative sector, search graduate jobs in creative arts and design.