Here we are now, entertain us.
Creative & Digital Media is a catch-all term that describes all kinds of audiovisual mediums, including online platforms, TV, radio, console games and more. People working in any of these areas are responsible for creating content, wielding the equipment, standing in front of the camera, testing the games (yes, that’s a thing) and much more.
Types of Apprenticeship
There’s just one creative & digital media apprenticeship, but like any creative person it’s an adaptable, flexible thing. You can use it to launch a career into any media sector – film, TV, music, online – and configure it with your employer to suit your needs.
About the Creative & Digital Media Industries
The UK’s creative industries are hugely important: they employ almost three million people, contribute more than £80 billion a year to the economy, and without them there’d be nothing to watch on TV. In fact, there’d be little to see, do, read or listen to anywhere, because without the arts and people pushing them out into the world, nothing would be printed, recorded, broadcast or uploaded. The world would be a pretty dull place.
What can I do?
Whatever you want to do. In some ways it’s a little old-fashioned to refer to the ‘digital’ world as if it were in some way separate: our lives are almost seamlessly integrated with technology now and get more and more plugged in every day. There are constant new innovations for shows, sounds, apps, games and more, and no-one has the monopoly on a good idea. The creators of YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram dreamed of things that didn’t exist before and brought them to life; that could be you.
Alternatively, there are many, many existing roles that can lead to rewarding and interesting careers across the creative sectors. As you train you’ll gain the technical skills you’ll need to harness your creativity and turn it into something that other people can access and enjoy, whether that’s capturing sound, producing a radio show or working in social media.
You’ll also be exposed to new technology and different ways of thinking on your way to landing a job or perhaps setting up on your own. With so many opportunities out there, you’ll probably work in a few different roles throughout your career.
Being creative requires imagination, but there are also practical skills you’ll need as you build your career. They’ll vary depending on what you want to do: a camera operator will need to master equipment and understand light, for example; an animator will need technical drawing skills as well as a grasp of software; a game designer will need both creative flair and an insane control over code.
All of these things will develop over time as you train, but it’s good to start thinking now about the areas that might interest you and getting a feel for the skills you’ll need.
Here are just some of the jobs available in creative & digital media:
- Production Runner
- Broadcast Assistant
- Junior Designer
- Digital Assistant
- Production Secretary
- Online Community Manager
The creative industries are competitive, so it’s normal to start lower down the ladder and work your way up to more senior roles as you get more experience in your chosen medium.
If it’s time to play the music and light the lights on your creative career, head to careermap.co.uk to see what apprenticeships and jobs are out there. ScreenSkills is another useful source of info on training and opportunities within the sector.
Routes into the creative industries include:
- Vocational qualifications / A Levels
- National Diplomas and Certificates
- Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs)
- Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
- Bachelors Degrees
Earn and Learn
If you opt for a creative & digital media apprenticeship you’ll usually train for between two and four years, depending on your employer and the qualification (Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship) that you’re aiming for. As an apprentice you’ll split your time between learning on the job with an employer and studying at college.
As an apprentice, you’ll be:
- In full time employment
- Earning a salary
- Working towards nationally recognised qualifications
- Getting the practical experience you need to start your career
The content of apprenticeships in this area will vary between employers because the work they do is so diverse: some of the skills you need as a digital assistant will be different to the ones required by a production runner. You’ll be able to talk to your employer and learning provider to make sure you’re getting the right training for you.
Levels of Apprenticeship
A creative & digital media apprenticeship is offered at two levels:
Level Three – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Level Four – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers
A Level Two Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve level three. Level Four is designed for those aiming for technical, design or management careers.
Life as a Creative & Digital Media Apprentice
Any audiovisual output you can think of involves a lot of work from a lot of people to bring it into our homes and onto our devices, whether it’s an immersive world on a console game, a Hollywood movie or a comedy panel show you watch late at night. To be involved in making these and other things happen you might be in a broadcast studio; on location filming; preparing animation on your computer; or perhaps working in the production offices.
Whatever you do, you won’t be alone. You’ll be thrown into a new team and you’ll need to do your best to work well with everyone: some of the work might be physical or basic at first, or you might have to work long hours in all conditions, but by showing willing and applying yourself you’ll make a good impression. Knowing people and being known as a good worker is essential in the creative industries, so having a good attitude right from the start will really help you get ahead.
Another tip: the equipment and tech, both analogue and digital, that you’ll use at work will be vital to your job (and never underestimate how helpful gaffer tape can be in all kinds of creative environments). Make the most of your time at college – and your spare time – to really master any software packages or gear you’re working with; you’ll be glad you did in the long run.
Apprenticeships are unique as you’ll be studying as well as working, so you’ll get a taste of life at college as well as work. It’s a chance to make new friends and socialise, and pick up some handy time management skills as you learn to balance your work, study and social life. You’ll also be earning your own money, which will help when it comes to buying any equipment you need (or books, films and music to inspire you). It will pay for nights out with your friends, too.