Accessibility statement

Creative industries

Camera operator filming on a TV set

Discover other sectors

This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

The basics

What are the creative industries?

To keep it simple, creative industries are businesses and organisations that have creativity at their core. That’s things like music, film and TV, theatre, video game design and writing. It can also include sectors like advertising and marketing and publishing, but we cover those on other job sector pages.

More than 2 million people work in the creative industries in the UK, some in traditionally creative roles (such as an actor in a theatre) and some in equally creative roles behind the scenes (such as the theatre’s publicist or set designer).

  • Freelancing is common; 43% of people are freelance across the whole sector, 72% of people in music and the visual arts are freelance.
  • It’s a lot more than just big organisations; 90% of creative businesses employ 9 or fewer people.
  • Most jobs are in the south east but the rest of the country is seeing high growth; the sector grew by 61% in Yorkshire and the Humber between 2011 and 2020 (see Channel 4’s move to Leeds, for example).
  • The pandemic has hit the creative industries hard; despite predictions of fast growth in the next few years, employment is still expected to be below pre-pandemic levels in 2025. 

Jobs in the creative industries can be competitive meaning work experience, volunteering and industry knowledge are very important. But creative skills are in high demand; 30% of the UK government’s shortage occupation list (jobs deemed to be in low supply in the UK labour market) is made up of creative roles.

Want to find out more?

What skills do I need?

The skills needed for a job in the creative industries vary depending on the particular industry, the job, the type and size of the organisation and whether you are freelance or not. Regardless, you’ll need:

  • Creative flair
  • Strong work ethic
  • Independence and resilience
  • Collaborative skills
  • Storytelling


Freelancing - working for yourself and selling your skills to clients - is much more common in the creative industries than in most sectors. 

According to the latest figures, 43% of people across creative industries are freelance. About 40% of people in film, TV and radio are freelance and more than 70% of people in music, performing and visual arts are freelance.

Why so many freelancers in creative industries? There are a number of reasons. Some people choose to go freelance because they enjoy the creative control and the ability to pick and choose work.

But many people are freelance simply because it is the only way they can find work. Their skills may be too specialist to find permanent full-time work as many creative businesses are small, so rely on freelancers to provide specialist skills when they need them. This means some people are not freelance by choice. They have to accept the potential downsides of freelancing such as the lack of sick pay and annual leave. Creative freelancers were hit particularly hard by the pandemic compared to their non-freelancing colleagues.

As well as freelancing, short term contracts are more common in creative industries.

Want to find out more?

Thinking about funding support? As well as supporting organisations, the Arts Council funds individual artists and practitioners. They provide funding for projects and for developing cultural practice; that includes research, time to create new work, travel, training, developing ideas, networking or mentoring. 

You can get involved in Enterprise activities at York to learn more about self-employment and freelancing. Check our information on Enterprise.

Creative sectors - the details

Film, TV, radio and podcasts

Find out more

Get an overview of the sector:

Listen to our What do you actually do? podcast:

How to get into the sector

There are some training schemes but many graduates get into the sector in entry-level jobs. Jobs may be advertised online but also found by networking and asking for jobs. You might hear this described as making speculative applications.

A common route into film and TV is as a runner. It gives you the chance to observe other roles, make links with different departments and potentially get experience in different teams. A similar role in radio is a radio broadcast assistant. Other entry-level roles in film, TV and radio could include researcher/research assistant, production assistant or assistant floor manager.

Want to find out more? 

Training schemes 

Big broadcasters and production companies like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 frequently offer training schemes and apprenticeships. You can find a detailed list of what’s available on the Royal Television Society link below.  

You might occasionally see training schemes for radio or audio production, or more general broadcasting training schemes encompassing work across TV, radio and online.

Job websites

You might find entry-level jobs on:

Many entry-level jobs such as runners are not formally advertised. You may find jobs by word of mouth and sending speculative applications, so brush up on your networking skills. You could use online directories such as The Knowledge and Kays to find relevant organisations.

Freelancing is common across the creative industries. Read the Freelancing Toolkit from ScreenSkills to understand more.

Work experience

Advertised work experience opportunities with production companies and broadcasters can be competitive and in short supply but there are other ways to get work experience to learn more about the sector and to fill up your CV.

There are unpaid work experience opportunities annually with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 among others, but you could:

  • Get involved in student media
  • Volunteer with community media projects, especially community and hospital radio
  • Create your own projects to build up a portfolio (read advice from ScreenSkills on building your portfolio)
  • Join the Connected Campus Opportunities Facebook page (University of York TFTI students) for training opportunities, job opportunities and financial support for this sector
  • Apply for mentoring and training opportunities such as those available through ScreenSkills (find more in the list at the end of the page)
  • Send speculative work experience requests

Our advice on sending speculative applications

  • In order to write a good speculative letter/email you will first need to do some research into the organisation you are writing to. This way you will be able to target your application to their needs and demonstrate your passion for the company, role and industry
  • Catch the attention of the person you are writing to. Give them a clear reason to want to contact you and take things further. For example, demonstrate that you have relevant skills, perhaps through extra-curricular activities and explain how offering you work experience will be of benefit to them (not just you!). Include a web link to your best work if possible. Also demonstrate that you understand what they do as an organisation - perhaps mention an interest in the clients they work with/your enjoyment of a documentary they made/an article you read that resonated with you – ie really tailor the application to that particular organisation
  • Be explicit about what you are asking for and what you can offer
  • It is a good idea to write to a specific named individual. If necessary phone to clarify who the best person to contact would be before sending your letter/email. Company websites, X/Twitter and LinkedIn profiles may also be useful for this
  • Follow it up! It’s a good idea to contact the organisation a week or two after you have sent it. Ask if they’ve had a chance to read it and whether there will be any opportunities for you. If not, find out if they know of anyone else you could approach for work experience opportunities
  • Create an online presence: use social or professional networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only can you find out about companies in this way, they can find out about you! Use X/Twitter to follow individuals working in the roles you are interested in - this will help you keep up to date with their news, but could also lead to job opportunities (eg they could put out a last minute call for help if a runner lets them down). However, remember they can check you out online, so think about the impression you want to give and lock down your privacy settings of anything personal you wouldn’t want them to see.

Read more about CVs and covering letters.

It’s not just about getting experience in the creative industries. Entry-level jobs can be demanding with long hours and a lot of pressure. You will be expected to use your initiative, be confident and be good at talking to people from a range of backgrounds. Work experience to help you develop these skills and show this to employers could include volunteering and part-time work. Having a car is helpful; you might need to get to remote locations.

We know that unpaid internships exclude a lot of people. You might be eligible for a York Futures Scholarship.

Diversity and inclusion in film, TV and radio

There are a number of initiatives to support people from communities under-represented in the creative industries to get into the sector.

Things to do at York 


Find out more

Jobs in the theatre industry are wide-ranging. They include creative roles like actors, directors, lighting designers and musical directors; production roles like casting directors, technicians and stage crew; and administrative roles like theatre managers, marketing officers and press officers.

You could work for a theatre company that creates, produces and tours plays. You could work directly for a theatre that creates its own plays (sometimes called a ‘producing house’). You could work directly for a theatre that puts on productions made by other companies (‘receiving house’). There are many freelance opportunities across these areas. You could also work in other settings like children’s theatre and in the education sector.

Get an overview of the sector:

Keep up to date on industry news by reading:

Read more about specific roles in theatre:

Listen to our episode of What do you actually do? with John Tomlinson about getting involved in theatre

How to get into the sector

Training schemes and graduate schemes are rare and very competitive so most people join the sector in entry-level jobs. These can be low paid and fixed-term but will open up opportunities to progress. Having work experience is very important.

You do not need an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in theatre for most jobs, but the skills and knowledge you develop in these courses could help you.

Job websites

Jobs may be advertised on websites like:

Jobs might also be advertised directly on theatre and production company websites, and on social media. As with all creative industries, networking is important and some roles will not be formally advertised.

Work experience

You won’t find a lot of advertised internships in theatre but some might be advertised on the job websites above. Many theatre companies offer short, unpaid work experience opportunities advertised through their websites. Remember that these will be competitive but they are a great way to get an insight into the sector and to build a network. 

For other ways to get experience you could:

  • Get involved in student theatre
  • Apply for part-time jobs and volunteer roles in theatres in front of house and administrative positions - this may open up opportunities to get involved in more projects in the local theatre community
  • Send speculative applications to theatre companies and similar organisations asking for work experience (note: if they mention work experience on their website they are unlikely to accept speculative approaches)

Think broadly about where you look for work experience. A major London or regional theatre is likely to be inundated with requests, but a smaller production company or an educational theatre group might be more open to letting you shadow their work for a day or two.

Things to do at York

  • Get involved with student media and theatre groups
  • Volunteer on projects to develop relevant skills
  • Apply for a volunteering role or part-time job in one of the region’s theatres
  • Contact York graduates working in the industry on York Profiles & Mentors

Video games and creative tech

Find out more

The video games industry has grown quickly in the UK; jobs include designers, developers, animators, producers and writers. Outside of games, the growth of the digital sector means there are more creative roles in tech than ever before. Jobs include roles in user-centred design, like UI and UX designers; roles in augmented, virtual and mixed reality (under the umbrella of ‘extended reality' or ‘XR’); and more ‘traditional’ tech roles like web designers.   

Get an overview of the video games sector:

Get an overview of other creative roles in tech:

How to get into the sector

You might see some graduate schemes or graduate trainee jobs, but many graduates enter the sector in ‘junior’ roles and progress through the ranks. There are also apprenticeships in gaming. Depending on the job you want, a specific degree might not be required but a good grounding in the relevant technical skills is important. Spend some time browsing job descriptions to help you understand the expected skill level. You might be expected to know the basics of the agile working methodology, which is commonly used in the tech sector.

Like other creative roles, networking is important and freelancing is common. Be prepared to send speculative job applications to find jobs that are not formally advertised. 

Job websites

Work experience

Look out for advertised internships in the gaming industry. They may be advertised on the websites listed above or directly on game company websites. You might find information about work experience on company websites, so spend some time researching. Remember, there is likely to be high demand for any work experience like this so don’t be downhearted if you are rejected. Outside of formal internships, you could:

  • Do you own projects to create a portfolio of work, and share your work online
  • Attend gaming and tech events
  • Network with people in the industry to help you understand the route in

Things to do at York

  • Browse internships from York Internships to get real work experience applying your digital skills
  • Consider registering your interest in the Placement Year Programme to spend a year working in industry
  • Keep an eye on the Handshake events schedule for Hackathons and other relevant events and networking opportunities
  • Do you own projects in your spare time to build up a portfolio of work
  • Join societies like HackSoc
  • Start building up a network of contacts using our networking advice
  • Apply for work experience funding with York Futures Scholarships
  • Look out for opportunities to engage with Digital Creativity Labs in the Ron Cooke Hub; they usually advertise summer work experience
  • Keep up to date with the developments in the local games industry, including:
    • Revolution Software, the well-respected indie-game studio based in York
    • SUMO Digital, the global game developer with a studio in Sheffield
    • Team 17, indie games developer in Wakefield
    • BetaJester, interactive digital experiences company in York
    • Game Republic, the largest games industry network in the North of England which runs events and writes industry reports


Find out more

Like other creative sectors, there are many different jobs in music. Roles include musicians, composers, producers, technicians, promoters, managers, agents and teachers. Work is available in the music industry but also in sectors like education, film and TV and the armed forces. It’s a competitive business; freelancing is common, especially for musicians, and networking is important.

Get an overview and learn about the different jobs:

Listen: hear York graduate Benji talk about his career as a composer for film and TV on our What do you actually do? podcast

How to get into the sector

Classical musicians benefit from a degree in music and private music teachers often have degrees in music and performance/theory qualifications. Music producers and sound technicians do not necessarily need relevant qualifications but many have them. Apart from that, specific degrees are not necessary for many music jobs.

Graduate schemes and specific jobs for graduates are rare in many creative roles, but you may find some graduate schemes and internships on the business side of the music industry; Sony Music and Universal Music are two record labels that sometimes offer these.

Job websites

  • For a range of jobs in the music industry try Music Jobs
  • Classical musicians and those interested in working in classical music can find jobs and directories of organisations and orchestras on Musical Chairs
  • Musicians might find jobs, gigs and auditions on Entertainers Worldwide Jobs
  • Jobs in music teaching in schools, colleges and conservatoires might be the TES jobs site and the job sites of local authorities
  • Jobs will also be advertised directly on music company websites - eg opera companies and orchestras may list vacancies directly

Speculative approaches are essential to finding work and progressing in the sector, especially in creative roles. These approaches may lead to freelancing work. For example, musicians looking for session work could contact contractors or fixers to try to arrange freelancing session work.

Work experience 

  • Look for internships, most likely to be in the commercial side of the industry (marketing, administration, etc.)
  • Send speculative applications for shadowing and short work experience opportunities
  • Use your networking skills to find freelancing opportunities
  • Volunteer to build up your transferable skills 
  • Your own project work to build up a portfolio
  • Get involved in university music groups 

Things to do at York

More resources: websites, podcasts, networks and people to follow

Useful links, organisations and accounts to follow

Related sector pages


Browse our collection of profiles of York graduates working in the creative industries on York Profiles & Mentors. They include:


  • It’s worth considering joining a union if you want to work as a freelancer. BECTU is a well-respected union for media and entertainment and offers a lot of support and training for members. They have rates information to help freelancers see what they should be charging, and support with chasing payments, which can be a big problem

Organisations to be aware of

  • Arts Council provides funding for individuals and community and cultural organisations for projects that engage people in England with creativity and culture.
  • Creative Access works across the creative industries and specialises in paid work experience opportunities for underrepresented candidates in the UK. Sign up for their email which includes ring-fenced opportunities and opportunities open to all
  • BBC Academy has guides, tutorials and put on regular live virtual masterclasses. Visit the website and sign up for updates.
  • Screen Yorkshire funds new productions and seeks to support new talent entering the film and TV industry. They have regular masterclasses and networking events
  • The BBC offers short unpaid work experience placements in a range of departments throughout the year. They also run 11-month (paid) trainee schemes and a talent pool, which you could get involved in after graduation, including the Production Trainee Scheme
  • See Channel 4’s website for careers in the creative industries. Apply for work experience in a range of departments - both creative and business-related
  • ITV have work experience opportunities via their Insight Pool, apply in January, April or October
  • Mama Youth Project supports under-represented groups (including unemployed graduates) into the media industry through a free training programme, leading to paid work experience  
  • The Network runs an annual event providing free masterclasses, workshops and careers chats at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival
  • British Film Institute has responsibility for funding film development and production; training; distribution and exhibition in the UK
  • Screen Skills trainee finder for 12-month placements in film or high-end TV
  • Creative England supports film productions made throughout England. The website includes a useful news section on regional productions, competitions, hosts crew networking events and you can register on their crew database. Follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest events: @cenglandprodn, Production team: @creativeengland, Film team: @CEfilm
  • PACT (Production Alliance for Cinema and Television) is the UK trade association representing and promoting the commercial interests of independent feature film, television, digital, children's and animation media companies
  • Film and media agency for London includes details of production trainee schemes
  • The Knowledge Online is a huge database of film-related companies
  • Film and TV Production Directory – search for worldwide jobs
  • Shooting People is an international networking organisation dedicated to the support and promotion of independent filmmaking
  • Production Base - networking site for film, TV and commercial production. Can upload CV/ showreel and search for jobs. You have to pay to join, but there are discounted rates for recent graduates
  • BBC writing opportunities for TV, radio and film with advice on scriptwriting techniques
  • Script writing blogs with loads of helpful info
  • Simply Scripts - database of film/tv/radio scripts and writing advice 
  • Celtx - free script/playwriting software that does all the formatting for you
  • Script Yorkshire -  support and advocacy organisation for scriptwriters across performance and broadcast media
  • South Yorkshire filmmakers network
  • Hospital Broadcasting Association -  includes a search facility to find particular stations and the hospitals they serve
  • Community Media Association has information on local community media projects and organisations (many using radio)
  • Grierson DocLab and Mentoring Scheme advertises each year to help people launch a career in factual programme making
  • Industrial Light and Magic London internships advertised annually
  • Shine TV work experience on a TV production or development
  • Careers advice for film, games and television from BAFTA


Podcasts can be a good way to get an insight into creative industries: