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Exhibit Designer

Exhibit designers work with others to research, plan, design and oversee the fabrication and installation of exhibits and displays.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Designer, Museum Display Artist, Display Designer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Exhibit Designers (5243.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers (F143) 
  • 2011 NOC: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers (5243) 
Interest Codes
The Exhibit Designer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Exhibit Designers
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to develop new ideas and esthetic and practical solutions to meet customers' requirements; and in planning and developing permanent and temporary or moveable exhibits and displays for museum exhibitions, trade shows, conventions, retail spaces and for other exhibitions

METHODICAL

Interest in precision working with drafting equipment and computer-aided design (CAD) software to prepare final designs; and in submitting designs to supervisors and clients for approval

DIRECTIVE

Interest in speaking to direct workers who are erecting displays, making working drawings and models of displays, and positioning spotlights, coloured lighting and other illumination; and in evaluating information regarding developments in materials and styles

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Exhibit designers may design permanent, temporary, travelling or virtual displays or exhibits for museums, historic sites, galleries, science centres, interpretive centres, trade shows or parades. Exhibits may include two or three dimensional materials such as fine art, museum artifacts (for example, clothing, personal items, household objects, tools, machinery), natural history or archaeological specimens, scientific models or consumer goods or services. In historic buildings, exhibits recreate period interiors. Virtual exhibits may be posted on the Internet.

When planning new displays or exhibits, the design team must consider:

  • the sponsoring organization's goals, objectives and resources
  • the main ideas to be conveyed and the most effective ways to present them (for example, signage, human interaction, audiovisual presentation)
  • the characteristics of typical viewers and their comfort requirements (for example, temperature, rest areas, literacy levels)
  • requirements imposed by the space surrounding the exhibit
  • traffic flow through the exhibit ensuring adequate space between components and display cases
  • necessary protections for display items (for example, security concerns, conservation requirements)
  • the overall aesthetic presentation
  • installation and mobility requirements
  • safety issues (for example, fire regulations, disabled access)
  • evaluation criteria to measure the success of the exhibit.

The design stages are essentially the same for any type of design project. In general, exhibit designers:

  • gather information about exhibit space, proposed themes and content, audiences, timelines and budget
  • produce sketches and mock-ups of the proposed exhibit and obtain approval for the design concept
  • prepare designs, computer or three dimensional models, and detailed working drawings
  • co-ordinate the work of the production team fabricating the exhibit and, when required, pitch in to help with fabrication
  • work with curatorial staff to oversee and assist with the installation of exhibits
  • participate in exhibit evaluations.

Exhibit designers often supervise staff, or prepare contracts and oversee the work of contractors. They also may co-ordinate or participate in the design and production of related materials such as exhibit catalogues, signs, educational materials, advertisements, publicity notices, posters, brochures, online promotions or invitations to promotional events.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Exhibit designers' working conditions vary depending on the type of project. They usually work indoors in offices, studios, workshops and warehouses, but also may visit outdoor sites. Overtime may be required to finish projects on time.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Exhibit designers need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to plan and create two and three dimensional designs
  • strong interpersonal communication skills and presentation skills
  • a good imagination and the ability to develop innovative designs
  • the ability to deal with frequent interruptions and work with a team of people from a variety of backgrounds.

They should enjoy synthesizing information and developing new ideas, taking a methodical approach to tasks requiring precision and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Individuals who do not have formal art and design training may be hired as assistant exhibit designers if they demonstrate a strong design ability and a willingness to learn. However, employers generally prefer to hire people who have post-secondary education in exhibit design or a related field such as industrial design, architecture, drafting, construction or interior design. Education or experience in fine art, graphic design, illustration, animation, web design, lighting, costuming or props is an asset. Senior design positions require project management skills such as budgeting and supervisory skills.

Employers usually want to see a portfolio of work. Some employers, such as the Royal Alberta Museum, require a two year diploma with two years of experience or a four year degree with relevant experience for entry level exhibit designer positions.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Alberta College of Art and Design

Grant MacEwan University

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Thompson Rivers University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Exhibit designers may be employed by or work on a contract basis for:

  • art galleries, museums, historic sites, science centres, interpretive centres or zoos
  • government departments responsible for parks, forestry, wildlife, culture, public affairs, museums or historic sites
  • theatre or television productions
  • architecture or design firms
  • international expositions and events  
  • trade shows and conventions.

Designers may advance to supervisory and management positions. Some designers establish their own companies.

Exhibit designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting funding for the arts
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Freelance designers usually negotiate each contract separately. Incomes may vary considerably from one designer to another, and from one year to another.

Exhibit designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group earned on average from $17.89 to $25.47 an hour. The overall average was $21.04 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Drama
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Design Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Education and Library Studies
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Updated Dec 10, 2012. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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