Transferable skills

The screen industries need people who have experience working in other industries.

There is a common misconception that unless you get into screen by your teens or early 20s, it's too late to have a successful career there. The reality is that the screen industries are open to people who have skills they have developed in other industries.

The screens industries are a creative set of industries that focus on making content for other people. A huge variety of people is needed to make that content - technical people, artistic people, people who can organise and manage budgets, make-up artists, animators, computer programmers, runners. On big productions planning and health and safety is vital, and being good at those things doesn’t require education or job history specifically in film.

Identifying your transferable skills

What you can offer the screen industries might be relatively clear. If you work in accountancy, you might well find accountancies jobs await you. If you're an electrician, you can see how that might be the basis for work in the lighting crew of a film or TV production. If you have a background in computing, or if you modify games as a hobby, then it's likely you will be able to use that as a way into the games industry.

But as well as your technical skills, it's important to identify other transferable skills such as leadership and communication. ScreenSkills researches the skills gaps in the existing workforce. In its pre-pandemic research (Quarterly Skills Barometer 2019 PDF), it found a major concern within the industry was a lack of managerial and leadership skills. These are often called "soft skills" and you might have developed them outside work. Your soft skills can be the basis of your unique selling points that frame you as a potential new screen employee. The place where you grew up and your family and cultural background can be important too.  You might have language skills that are useful, or a completely different way of looking at the world.

 How to connect your transferable skills with job roles

A really good place to start your exploration is with our job profiles.  Spend some time scrolling through the roles to see which ones interest you.  Each role explains what you have to be good at to succeed in that role and outlines the routes in. If you want to see this information set out as a PDF, have a look at our career maps.

The job profiles will help you answer a couple of important questions: What do you want to do, and do you have the transferable skills to do it? Finding a balance between getting a start in the industry wherever you can, and following your lifelong dream, is important; it might be that your first job in screen is just the beginning, having a five-year plan can help with managing expectations and maintaining your dream.

Be inspired

To get some inspiration, why not look at some examples of people doing what you are trying to do now? Our case studies are full of amazing people who have shared their pathways into screen industries with us.

  • Chartered accountant Tim Powell was able to enter the television and film industry thanks to a place on the HETV Make a Move scheme for individuals stepping up in the industry.
  • It was a chance encounter when she was working abroad that led Ziggy Gray to her dream job in locations in the film industry.
  • Calum Weir explains how studying mathematics at university set him up for a career as a digital imaging technician.
  • Coming from a family who works in the construction industry, it never occurred to Lewis Kelly that a career in film might be for him but he went on to become a lighting trainee.

Other sources of support

ScreenSkills sometimes has programmes specifically to help people who want to transfer into screen from other industries.  Keep an eye on our training and opportunities directory for these and for any events that can help you to meet screen professionals.

We also have a comprehensive list of information and resources that you can filter through your interests, your career stage and your chosen industry.  Find masterclasses, careers information and job boards.