Do you have the skills and drive to succeed in one of the UK’s fastest-growing sectors? Discover where your talent and passion for the creative arts can take you

What areas of the creative arts and design sector can I work in?

Employment opportunities can be grouped into:

  • advertising and marketing;
  • architecture;
  • crafts;
  • design;
  • fashion;
  • film, TV, video, radio and photography;
  • IT, software and computer services;
  • publishing;
  • museums, galleries and libraries;
  • music, performing and visual arts.

There are many different areas of design, including:

  • exhibition;
  • games;
  • graphic;
  • industrial;
  • interior;
  • landscape;
  • product;
  • textiles;
  • theatre.

You could be in a practical role as an artist or designer, or in an administrative or managerial role, such as museum curating or arts administration.

There is an increasing overlap with the media and information technology sectors in relation to the use of digital technology to produce and deliver creative content. This is noticeable in roles such as web design, animation and games design.

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in creative arts and design.

Who are the main graduate employers?

The creative arts sector is made up of a lot of small companies. According to the Creative and Cultural Industries 2012/13 report, 85% of companies employ fewer than four people, 14% employ 5 to 50 people and only 1% employs more than 50 people.

However, the sector also has some large well-established companies and organisations that recruit graduates. Examples include:

  • Advertising - Leo Burnett
  • Cultural heritage - British Museum, National Museum Wales, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Galleries of Scotland
  • Design - Jaguar Land Rover, Harrods, AKQA, Big Active
  • Fashion - Marks & Spencer, Next
  • Film - Ealing Studios, Pinewood Studios, Sony Pictures
  • Music - Opera North, Warner Music Group

Many design opportunities are to be found in design consultancies or advertising agencies. The Directory of Design Consultants is a useful resource to locate consultancies.

In many areas of this sector there are opportunities to become self-employed.

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the creative arts and design sector can expect:

  • the need to demonstrate a practical creative talent or to show a passion for art, music or other creative pursuits;
  • a higher than average likelihood of being self-employed or freelance;
  • lower salaries, an unsteady income and lack of job security;
  • working hours to vary enormously, from regular office hours to working evenings and weekends, and the flexibility of choosing your hours as a freelancer;
  • to need to be independent, proactive and resilient.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in the creative arts and design sector?

The UK’s creative industries were responsible for contributing £76.9billion to the economy in 2013, according to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

As the highest growth sector, it accounted for 1.8 million jobs in 2014 - an increase of nearly 16% since 2011 (Creative Industries: Focus on Employment June 2015).

Many creative businesses are located in London, or big cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh, but self-employment and working in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) provides opportunities throughout the UK.

The sector can be highly competitive both to secure employment and to develop within a role. Confidence to market yourself, network and develop commercial awareness are all important. You will need to be prepared to volunteer or work for a low salary to build up valuable experience and contacts. Networking is particularly important to increase your chance of future employment. Taking a proactive approach and using every opportunity possible to make contacts will be a necessary and on-going process.