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Do you want to work as a costume and mask designer?

  • Read about the most important info you need to decide on following this career.
  • ​Follow the 7 points below and search for a tertiary institution near you for future studies. If you already are graduated, you may also search through our list of Jobs in the main menu.
  • If you want to PLAN the way you need to prepare, then join our community in step 8 where you will learn everything, while chatting with other potential designers and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 7 October 2020

1. What is a costume and mask designer?

Costume and mask designers use their skills and different techniques to design and create animal related costumes and masks for various kinds of clients.

Costumes and masks are used in film, TV and stage production, as well as entertainment organizations where the public can interact with the different characters, such as in Disney World and other theme parks.

Ancient Costumes?

Some of the oldest ideas of costumes were marauders wearing animal skins to instill fear in their enemies

Big Money?

Some of the most expensive animal costumes are made for anime fans, costing thousands of dollars.

2. What do they do?


Art & Design / Business


The primary focus of costume and/or mask designers is to create the best costumes that will fit in with the theme of the film, TV show or performance. So a costume becomes a very important part of the decor of the scene.

Daily Tasks:

  • Discuss brief with clients/directors
  • Research the theme or purpose of the costumes
  • Sketch the costume design
  • Research the perfect fabric to be used
  • Design the patterns to be used to cut out the sections of the costume
  • Either cut the fabric and stitch the costume together, or hand over the designs to the dressmakers
  • Presentation to clients of work done
  • Create and add new work to a portfolio
  • Administration and filing

Where they work:


Costume and mask designers normally work indoors in a design studio or office setup. They do also spend some time in the outdoors, studying the animals they need to draw.

Places of Employment –

Most designers can be employed by film, TV and stage production houses, or even places where large amounts of people are entertained, such as theme parks. Some costume designers do venture into freelancing and start their design studios.

Average Salary:

On average the income per year is around $35,000. This will differ from country to country, and whether you work on a large film or TV production.


The most difficult part is always to get your designs seen by future clients. For this a lot of designers need to be well versed in the setup and use of social media. Designers are also prone to work under the usual stress levels of tight deadlines and low budgets.

​Future growth and Possibilities:

Depending on how talented or successful designers are, their future growth will be depended on the level of competition in the field. The market also grows slowly at around 1%, which can cause some competition among new interns. However, the market for costumes and masks within the gaming industry (cosplay etc) has grown faster and will be a good market in the future.

3. Which Skills are required?

The skills required for a career as a costume and mask designer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship

Career Skills:

  • ​Good business knowledge
  • Good artistic skills, including pattern making
  • Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Good computer literacy (drawing software)
Life Skills
Career Skills

4. Which Subjects must I have at School?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

5. What will I need to Study?

Minimum Requirements:

To become a costume and mask designer doesn’t require formal training, as you can enter some production houses as an intern under apprenticeship. But many do go on to study a College Diploma in fashion design, merchandising or visual arts.

Short Courses are essential, especially when you do make use of computer software to draw and render your drawings.


A good background in drawing is essential, so be sure to perfect your doodling and sketching skills.


The duration of College diplomas can be up to 3 or 4 years. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

Possible Career Preparation Paths:

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined Career Paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Stepping Stone Career:

Being a costume and mask designer can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc).

You can begin as an intern after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship:

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a designer will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior designers) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior designer or expert.

Join the Costume and Mask Designer Group in STEP 8 to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average entry level of education across the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

6. Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Although not required by law, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills.

Learn more about requirements by joining OZT in STEP 8.

Professional Associations:

7. Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards costume designing.

Costume and Mask Designer Career_opt

8. Join the OZT community

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a costume and mask designer.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Costume & Mask Designer, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

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Career Profiles and Resources

Career Mentors are Members who assist by volunteering to keep each Career Page factual and current, while mentoring Students in the related Career Group.

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Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

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List of Career Mentors/Educators who have contributed to this Career info:


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A few pictures about the Career:

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