While careers in the creative industries are wide ranging, you'll need more than just talent to successfully land your first role - consider the following routes to getting a creative job
Study for a creative degree
Most jobs in the creative industries are held by those with a degree. If you do decide to go down this path, you'll be able to choose from a huge range of undergraduate courses.
From graphic and fashion design to museum studies, art administration, production design, illustration and performing arts, there are options for everyone.
For art and design roles, look for a practical degree in your area of interest, such as creative pattern cutting, interior design, video game design or photography. Practical programmes give you the hands-on experience that employers look for.
For performing arts roles, such as acting and dancing, work experience is just as important as qualifications. However, a degree from an established, industry-recognised drama or dance school can significantly increase your chances of employment. Discover the 7 skills for a successful career in performing arts.
For museum and art gallery jobs, a degree in art history, museum studies or heritage studies is desirable. A subject relevant to museum or gallery collections will also be beneficial, such as fine art, history or photography. Find out how to get into museum conservation.
While postgraduate qualifications aren't always necessary, they can increase your knowledge and understanding, help you to gain industry contacts and give you an edge when trying to stand out in a crowd.
For more information on relevant qualifications, see our creative arts and design job profiles.
Consider a creative internship
Graduate employers in the creative industries require candidates with:
- imaginative ideas and ability
- strong communication skills - not only useful in your day-to-day work, but also invaluable when networking and building contacts
- the ability to work as part of a team
- effective planning, organisation and time management skills - as the majority of work in the creative industries is project-based and deadline-driven, you'll need to stay organised to manage your workload
- self-discipline and stamina to cope with long hours
- resilience and determination - the industry is highly competitive and you'll need to cope with setbacks
- a good eye for detail in art and design roles
- the flexibility to work on multiple projects
- commercial awareness and business orientation
- digital and IT skills
- manual dexterity
- practical and technical skills, including associated software such as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and CAD
- marketing, administrative and business skills - especially if you're self-employed.
Work experience, internships and voluntary work can help you to learn and develop these skills and in many cases these are the usual routes into employment in this sector. Such opportunities offer an insight into industry practices and enable you to make contacts and gain confidence. Having a period of work experience, voluntary work or a stint as an intern under your belt also helps you stand out to potential employers.
To find design experience, you may need to make speculative enquiries. If you want to get into the industry consider taking part in design competitions. Design and Art Direction (D&AD) offers the New Blood Awards for those aged 18 or over and enrolled on a relevant higher education course, plus recent graduates.
For experience in museum settings look to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, London. The Natural History Museum also runs short-term 'visiteering' schemes, and the Science Museum provides volunteering opportunities enabling you to experience working at a museum for a day.
If you want to work in the fashion industry, experience in fashion retail is valuable. You can learn about the styles, looks and brands customers prefer.
Online fashion retailer ASOS takes on fashion interns over a one-year period in a number of functions including garment technology, design and pattern cutting - see ASOS internships.
A variety of fashion-related internships are also advertised on Fashion United. Attending exhibitions and events, such as London Fashion Week would also provide invaluable experience. Find out more about the 5 ways to get into fashion design.
For students and graduates from ethnic minority groups, Creative Access provides internship opportunities across advertising, publishing, film, museums, music, television and theatre.
To find work placements and internships, search for creative arts and design work experience.
Secure a creative apprenticeship
While the majority of creative professionals enter the sector with a degree, the number of creative and art apprenticeships is increasing.
You can now learn your trade while earning a wage in areas such as:
- costume and wardrobe
- creative and digital media
- fashion and textiles
- graphic design
- hair and make-up
- interior design
- jewellery design/making
- visual effects.
Creative apprenticeship opportunities span all available levels from intermediate (Level 2) through to degree (Level 7) standard. Discover more about entry requirements, potential salaries and how to apply for apprenticeships.
Search for creative graduate jobs
The creative industries are highly competitive and jobs are not always formally advertised. While possessing the right qualifications and work experience will go a long way to helping you secure your first job, you'll need to put yourself out there through networking opportunities to get noticed. Having the confidence to market yourself is very important.
Joining professional bodies relevant to your field will help you keep up to date with networking events, conferences and workshops - all useful opportunities to meet industry professionals and promote your skills.
Being active on Twitter and LinkedIn enables you to follow and connect with industry professionals and keep an ear to the ground for suitable vacancies - see how effective this can be at social media and job hunting.
Blogging is also a useful way for creative types to demonstrate their talent for content creation, design and crafting. Attending fashion shows, art/museum exhibitions or taking part in design competitions are other great ways to meet like-minded people.
Graduate schemes are not as common in creative arts and design as in other sectors. However, some large organisations - such as Harrods, Marks & Spencer and Jaguar Land Rover - offer graduate schemes in design. Museums sometimes offer traineeships for assistant curators.
Jobs are advertised on university careers service vacancy lists. The University of the Arts London's (UAL) jobs and internships website Creative Opportunities is particularly useful. In addition, you can find vacancies on company websites and through organisations such as Arts Council England.
You'll typically need a portfolio of work to demonstrate your skills and abilities to potential employers. Find out more about putting together a creative portfolio.
Getting a creative job without experience
Having some relevant work experience alongside your qualifications is an important part of preparing for a creative career - but don't discount your experience in other areas of work, as this will have developed a range of transferable skills.
Many of the qualities considered important in creative jobs can be gained through other roles. Be sure to emphasise any of the following in your applications:
- digital skills
You'll also need to build a portfolio of work to demonstrate your talent to employers. For example, you could start a YouTube channel, podcast or blog about your chosen area of interest. For ideas, see our 5 tips for getting media work experience.
You can also volunteer and enter competitions that give you the chance to showcase your creative skills. It's a good idea use social media to network and find out about other opportunities to get involved.