Creative careers

The concept of a creative career is not brand new, however many professions are now supported by a variety of courses, diplomas and qualifications which weren’t available before.

There are also misconceptions around what a creative career is, what is involved in the day-to-day of working in the creative industries, what the benefits are and how a student can begin their creative journey. 

In order to help with this, we have created Thrive ­– a knowledge hub where you can download information about creative careers, pathway options, fairs and events.

Thrive is a community where teachers and careers advisors can ask questions, exchange information and share their knowledge on how to encourage young students into pursuing the career that’s right for them, with inspirational stories about others who have embarked on similar journeys.


Thrive: Progression to HE and Portfolio Advice 2018

Join us for a day of talks and discussions on Wednesday 17 October between 10am and 3pm, dedicated to helping young people thrive in their chosen field. The day, which takes place at The Business School for the Creative Industries at UCA Epsom, is completely free for careers professionals working in schools and colleges, with places available on a first come, first served basis.

A creative career incorporates a form of creativity and innovation. They can be rewarding, diverse and cover a whole range of industries and skills, including (but not limited to):

  • Advertising and marketing
  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Crafts and product design
  • Gaming, computing and animation
  • Graphic communication and branding
  • Fashion: journalism, design, marketing, promotion
  • Film, TV, video, radio and photography
  • Fine art and illustration
  • Museums, galleries and libraries
  • Music, performing and visual arts.

In fact, there is a high demand for creative thinkers in all sectors – from branding to internal communication, from design to creative problem solving, all industries are looking for those who can think critically and differently about their subject.

Options for careers are incredibly varied – from content creators, writers and journalists, to makers in glass, ceramics or textiles, from computer coders to animators, from architects to brand managers.

What is a Creative Career

A creative career can give students the opportunity to turn their passions and hobbies into a sustainable, rewarding profession.

Roles in the creative industries can be incredibly diverse and interesting, often involving working on a variety of different projects, meeting new people and travelling around the world. 

There is also great economic, social and cultural value in creatively focused careers. The UK creative industries play a major role on the world stage, paving the way for future innovation. Government statistics show that 1 in 11 jobs across the UK are in the creative economy, which is worth over £92 billion to the wider UK economy and was the only sector to see growth in the 2011 recession. The creative industries are growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy, comprising 6% of all jobs in the UK.


How to map a creative journey

The important thing to consider when a student is thinking about a creative career is where they are now.

Creative education is about helping students to develop their practical skills, building their portfolio and giving them the opportunity to experiment and explore different paths. It’s designed to give them the best possible tools and knowledge to make their way in industry in a wide variety of different careers.

The beginning of the journey is always the hardest part, but as they spend more time researching potential options, they’ll get a better idea of what route suits them best.

To find out more about the options available at UCA, visit us on an Open Day or contact us.

See below for some suggestions on questions to ask students who might be interested in persuing a career in the creative industries, and some advice that we recommend to share with students.


  • Do you have a career, job, subject in mind? What are you interested in?

    This could be as specific as ‘architect’ or as broad as ‘fashion’ – it’s mainly to establish whether the student has an interest to begin with.


    • If they have an interest or career in mind, consider helping them look at courses available in that subject. Higher Education institutions like UCA categorise their courses by subject and are able to help advise and direct students who aren’t sure which course would be best for them.
    • If they are interested in a broader subject but haven’t narrowed it down yet, introduce them to pre-degree and Year 0 courses. These are designed to help them make this choice and teach them the skills they need along the way.
    • Open days and UCAS or careers fairs are a great opportunity for them to explore what options are available to them.
  • Do you practice already?

    ‘Practicing’ can be defined in many ways. Do they study the subject in school? If not, are they a member of a club, do they paint and draw at home, do they make videos? Do they read all about the subject, watch films about it, research it online? Are they dedicating any of their own time to the subject?


    • If they don’t practice much yet, for instance because the option isn’t available in school, or they don’t have access to the resources they need, consider helping them to research and join clubs in the local area.
    • Programmes like Summer and Easter Schools at UCA and the National Saturday Club can give them the opportunity to find out more and build a portfolio.
    • Reading, researching and watching things about the subject counts too. If they’re keen on filmmaking, for instance, then local libraries often have DVD sections, or a subscription to Netflix and video essays on YouTube can help broaden their knowledge.
    • If they are practicing, then actively encourage it, and perhaps suggest that they keep a sketchbook of what they do or create, the ideas that they have and their inspiration. This will become an essential tool for creating portfolios and preparing for interviews in the future.
  • Do you want to go to university?

    Some students don’t, and that’s an option too. Depending what level of study they’re in, they can consider a Foundation degree or Extended Diploma, or even an internship or apprenticeship that could bring them into the world of work.


    • If they want to go to university, then encourage them to explore Open Days, UCAS events and to research online. If it’s not clear if they will be able to find the right degree for their career, then encourage them to get in touch with institutions and ask for advice – often creative courses teach skills that are transferrable (for example, it is not uncommon for graduates with a degree in Architecture to eventually work in the video games industry).
    • If they don’t want to go to university, then it’s important for them to know what other options are available and ensure that they have a plan. For instance, if they producing and perhaps even selling their work, then maybe a short business course would suit them so that they can learn about owning a business or being self-employed, and how to network. Otherwise, now is the time to look for employment opportunities, internships and apprenticeships.
    • The other option that sits between school and university is a pre-degree course. Our flow chart opposite shows the structure of the courses available at UCA from GCSE through to undergraduate, with postgraduate study as an option afterwards.

Your next steps to a Creative Career

Discuss your options

The next steps to a Creative Career – advice for students

We know that planning what you want to do for your future career can involve a lot of new information and research. It’s important to make sure you’re not overwhelmed, and the best way to avoid that is to stay on top of it as best as you can and use the resources, information and people around you who can help.

Below are our 10 main pieces of advice about choosing your creative career:

  • Discuss your options with career advisors, teachers, parents and carers, but remember that ultimately it's your decision. Think of it as being a creative journey. Be open to suggestions, ask questions and research your options.
  • Remember, it's your life so identify your likes, interest and skills and explore various career options that would fit these attributes.
  • Think about skill development and the qualifications that would help you on your personal creative career path.
  • Talk through what further education paths, work experience or apprenticeships are available to you with your careers advisor. Be proactive by following up on advice and arrange regular catch-ups and meetings with your careers advisor.
  • Get inspiration from other people's creative journey
  • Look into university and college open days
  • Apply for short courses and taster days
  • Build a portfolio of work
  • Start developing a personal statement
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Find out more about portfolios

Coming soon!

Download your Creative Careers advice pack here!

Our Creative Careers downloads will contain a variety of information and supporting materials for careers advisors, parents/ carers and students to help guide you on your creative journey. 

This will give you access to a varierty of supporting materials which will be updated on a regular basis. If you would like further information please feel free to contact as at


Careers Advisors

Our outreach team is bringing awareness about the creative careers and the opportunities available to students on a national level. Many are unaware of the choices available to them and the paths that can lead to a diverse, rewarding and fulfilling future in a creative career. We want to join careers advisors to inspire a new generation. We want to see students fulfilling their potential and reaching their goals. Many want to follow a creative path and we would like to help them achieve this, by providing them with the knowledge to follow their aspirations.


We offer a number of opportunities for students to explore the creative arts. Through events and workshops students can gain the confidence and capacity to express their design ideas and to enhance their visual literacy.

Visiting us an Open Day will give you the opportunity to explore our facilities, tour the campus, see our accommodation and meet our staff and students. This will give you a real insight into university life. Check out our website for further information, dates and booking instructions.

Parents / Carers

People with at least a degree or equivalent filled more than half of all jobs in the Creative sector, so although university isn’t the only path it could give you that step ahead.

Open Days also play an important role in helping you decide what creative path is best for you. We offer open days across our four main campuses throughout the year.

Get in touch

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