Display designers use their design skills to help promote the image, products and services of businesses and other organisations.
To some extent the roles of display designers and visual merchandisers may overlap, but display designers usually focus on designing displays, stands and panels that are used at exhibitions, conferences and other events. They also produce point-of-sale displays, which are stock containers that are usually mass-produced and installed in hundreds of retail outlets.
A display designer aims to promote a client's products, brand and image by creating an eye-catching display using visual and graphic elements. Depending on the client's business, the display may be taken to a wide range of locations, from trade exhibitions to shopping malls. The work involves:
Producing a display usually involves working with printers, exhibition contractors, plastics manufacturers and metal fabricators. The job could also involve arranging for the display to be transported to and from exhibitions, installed, dismantled and stored when not in use. Designers may liaise with suppliers of lighting, furniture, flower arrangements and other accessories.
Display designers usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Additional hours may be required as deadlines approach. Part-time work may be available, and freelance work is common.
Display designers could be based in design studios, at company head offices or design departments or in retail stores.
Designing and arranging displays can involve standing, lifting, carrying and using ladders.
Travel to other branches of the company, suppliers' premises, exhibition halls and conference centres may be necessary so a driving licence will be useful and, in some cases, essential.
Salaries may start at around £15,000 a year but with experience could rise to around £25,000.
Employers include the design departments of large organisations, design consultancies, display companies, printers, exhibition contractors and retailers. Freelance work is common. There are jobs in large towns and cities throughout the UK.
Vacancies may be advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices, in specialist publications such as Design Week, The Designer, Drapers, The Grocer, local and national newspapers, on general retail job websites such as www.inretail.co.uk and on the websites of individual employers. The Design Council's website has links to organisations that may employ display designers.
There are no specific qualifications to begin this career, but most employers look for a qualification in a related subject and/or previous experience in design or retail. Useful qualifications include:
For a degree course, applicants usually need at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications. For foundation degrees they need at least one A level and four GCSE's (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications. The requirements for other courses vary, and candidates are advised to contact course providers for full details.
Full or part-time Access courses may available for candidates who do not have the usual qualifications for entry on to degree courses.
The Diploma in creative and media may be relevant for this area of work.
Some people enter this career through an Apprenticeship in retail.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Training depends on the employer and can combine on-the-job training with long or short internal or external courses.
It may be possible to work towards qualifications, including a Certificate/Diploma Level 3 in retail (visual merchandising).
The Chartered Society of Designers offers a continuing professional development (CPD) scheme to help members to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
Freelance display designers or visual merchandisers have to fund their own training and development.
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A display designer should:
Promotion opportunities depend on the size of the employer's business, but there may be opportunities to progress to supervisor, head designer, and sometimes to department manager.
Working overseas is a possibility for people working for multinational companies.
Experienced display designers may become self-employed by moving into freelance work or setting up their own business. They progress by increasing their client base and building their businesses.
The British Display Society (BDS),
14-18 Heralds Way, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex CM3 5TQ
Tel: 020 8856 2030
The Chartered Society of Designers (CSD),
1 Cedar Court, Royal Oak Yard,
Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3GA
Tel: 020 7357 8088
34 Bow Street, London WC2E 7DL
Tel: 020 7420 5200
The Fashion Retail Academy,
15-17 Gresse Street, London W1T 1QL
Tel: 020 7307 2345
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.