Career Information Hotline

Toll Free 1-800-661-3753

Edmonton 780-422-4266

Guest Account Sign In Sign Up

Exhibit Designer

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

  • Avg. Salary $39,473.00
  • Avg. Wage $21.04
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Designer, Museum Display Artist, Display Designer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Exhibit Designer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Exhibit Designers
NOC code: 5243.3

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


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


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

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.

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.

Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers
NOC code: 5243

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $13.00 $26.56 $17.89 $18.00
Overall $14.90 $22.00 $21.04 $21.15
Top $21.00 $26.60 $25.47 $25.30

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Public Administration
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

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.

Was this page useful?