What’s it like to work in the Creative Industries?

The UK’s Creative Industries are world-leading. They are among the fastest growing industries in the economy. As you’re reading this page, it’s likely that you’re already interested in working in the Creative Industries in the future, and that just shows good sense.

Doing a creative job for a living is an enviable position to be in. It’s quite rare to be able to do something you’re passionate about for your day job, so if you manage to start and build a career in the Creative Industries, it’s likely you’ll enjoy a lot of job satisfaction. In a few cases, there’s the potential also to gain more than just job satisfaction, in the form of fame and wealth.

So it’s easy to see why working in the Creative Industries appeals to so many young and talented people.

However, the industries are not necessarily for everyone. Depending on your personality and what you feel is important to you in life, you may find that they’re not for you. And that’s absolutely fine – we all want different things in life.

Due to the way the industries are made up, with the majority of the workforce being freelance and most of the companies being small or microbusinesses, there are certain broad characteristics of life in the Creative Industries that you should know about, in case they make a difference to you. They don’t apply across all jobs in all of the industries – but they apply to many of them.

Working hours

Lots of the work done by creative companies is project-based and deadline-driven. Companies and freelancers need to stay competitive, so timescales can often be tight. As a result, working hours can be longer than the average 8 hour-day office job, especially as the project deadline approaches. You may also find yourself working anti-social hours, such as evenings, at night and on weekends.

If you are someone who wants to work regular hours and keep your weekends free to do what you enjoy away from work, it’s worth bearing these irregular and often long working hours in mind.

There are definitely jobs throughout the industries that offer more regularity in working hours, and creative jobs in other industries that have more regular working patterns.

Contracts

Your contract should state when you will be expected to work and for how long, no matter which part of the Creative Industries you want to work in, and whether as a freelancer or as an employee.

Even so, it's not always easy to say ‘no’ to your employer when they ask you to work late, particularly if you’re a freelancer, as you may fear they won't want to employ you next time around.

Many people manage their lives very happily in this uncertain world of projects and short-term contracts. However, others find it challenging, stressful or demoralising. Again, consider your own case - how important do you think it will be to you to have a more stable job, with a monthly salary, regular working hours and a company pension? Such roles do exist in the Creative Industries, but they’re not the norm.

Pay

The financial rewards of working in the Creative Industries can be great, but particularly when you’re starting out, the fee you receive can be relatively small. In addition, as a freelancer working on fixed-term contracts, there may be lean periods when you have less work than you would like.

You should bear this in mind if you think you will want as much financial security as possible early on in your career.

That said, help is at hand in the form of options like apprenticeships, where you can earn a salary while learning the ropes in your chosen profession. Find out more about apprenticeships in the Creative Industries.

And you can increase the likelihood of being ready for a career in the industries through studying a degree that has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick.

In either case, you will also learn more about the realities of working in the Creative Industries, including how to manage your finances effectively.

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