Model makers build models or 'mock-ups' to help designers get a better idea of what their design looks like, how it fits into its surroundings and how practical it is. They work with a variety of materials such as wood, plastic and metal.
Also known as
- Rapid Prototyping Technician
As a Model Maker, you will build three-dimensional models or 'mock-ups' to help Designers get a better idea of what their design looks like, how it fits into its surroundings and how practical the design is. Designers need to see or test their design before a decision is made to spend money and time on its production.
After talking to the Designer, you will work from detailed design drawings, plans, photos or computer graphics. You'll skillfully use materials like wood, plastic, metal, plaster, paper or card to produce models. Machine and hand tools are used to shape the materials.
A model can be scaled up or down depending on what it represents and its purpose. A planned motorway flyover system, for example, will be greatly scaled down, whereas a newly discovered molecular structure will be scaled up. Models are also used to create special effects in films, television, theatre and in certain types of exhibition.
Environmental issues are a very big factor. Low carbon research is an exciting area to be involved in.
Protective clothing, masks and gloves may be worn when building the models. The work environment may be noisy.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Model Maker, you need:
- creative, technical and practical skills
- to visualise objects in three-dimensional form
- patience, accuracy, and an ability to meet project deadlines
- good communication skills
- problem-solving skills
- an understanding of the different materials you might use
- knowledge of design-related software
- to work well on your own and with others
Self-employed Model Makers will need business and marketing skills.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £19,000 - £20,500
- With experience: £22,000 - £26,000
- Senior Model Makers earn £27,500
Hours of work
Model Makers usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Working hours for self-employed Model Makers may be irregular, depending on how much work they have. Late finishes and weekend work may be required from time to time, especially as deadlines approach.
Where could I work?
Employers are firms in:
- civil engineering
- film and television
- motor car manufacture
- town planning
Opportunities for Model Makers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Although some Model Makers work for an employer, most work on a self-employed, freelance basis, moving from project to project.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).
It's a good idea to build up a network of relevant contacts, as not all model making jobs are advertised.
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Entry Routes and Training
An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. You may be able to study for an NVQ as part of the apprenticeship.
A common route into this career is from a degree. There is a modelmaking degree available at the Arts University Bournemouth.
General three-dimensional design courses may also contain elements of training in model making.
Some people get on to degree courses from a Foundation course, HND, HNC or foundation degree.
You may not need a higher education qualification to get into this career. Practical skills gained in areas like wood working, electronics and engineering will be useful.
With experience, some Model Makers move into supervisory positions. Many become self-employed.
Previous experience working in architecture, town planning or civil engineering is useful for this career.
To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
To get onto a relevant degree course, you'll need:
- 2 or more A levels, or equivalent
- 4/5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
- passes in English and maths
- a pass in a design and technology
Alternatives to A levels include:
- a BTEC level 3 qualification in automotive clay modelling
- level 3 City and Guilds certificate or diploma in design and craft
- an Advanced Level Apprenticeship - possibly leading to level 3 NVQ
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
Many other qualifications are also accepted so check the college/university's website for more details.
The usual entry requirements for a relevant HNDs, HNC's and a Foundation course are:
- 1/2 A levels or equivalent, where you'll need an A level in art or in an art-based subject
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 4/5 subjects
Some courses ask that you have a pass in English. A pass in design and technology (product design) will be useful.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Knowledge of the wider industry in which you intend to work, for example, architecture, town planning or civil engineering is useful.
Applicants are normally expected to provide a portfolio of work showing creative ability.
Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in crafts, design or technology. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.
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