Studio administration

 13 March 2013

A design studio needs to be managed and coordinated. An administrator may be the first point of contact for all clients or potential clients.

Staff at Form, a graphic design studio and branding agency in London. Image: Form UK
Staff at Form, a graphic design studio and branding agency in London. Image: Form UK

What do design administrators do?

In any organisation, there are business and administration functions which need to be carried out, including finance, planning the flow of work and customer contact.

The work of a studio administrator may include:

  • issuing contracts
  • booking events
  • organising meetings
  • invoicing
  • liasing with suppliers
  • assisting with project scheduling.

Often, an administrator is the first point of contact for a new clients. Delivering good customer service is an important part of the job.

They may also be expected to market the company, possibly by being responsible for the studio’s social media presence.

What is the job like?

This area of work sometimes has other job titles, such as 'traffic manager', 'studio coordinator' or 'studio assistant'. Job titles may reflect the level of responsibility.

Sometimes the work is combined with other responsibilities, for example being the PA to the managing director or creative director, or working as a receptionist.

A studio manager may do some or all of the admin work. Other management functions could include:

  • managing workflow
  • project management
  • planning the work capacity
  • providing creative direction
  • managing staff performance
  • quality control
  • staff recruitment
  • budgeting
  • estimating and pricing.

In some studios, the manager may spend all their time in a manager or project manager role. In a smaller organisation, a manager may be one of the senior designers or the creative director.

You may not be trained in design, but you need to have an interest in it.

A studio administrator is less likely to be involved in design work.

In a large design department or agency, there may be an admin/management team, with staff responsible for different parts of the admin and management. For example, there may be a finance assistant, work scheduler or receptionist.

As a studio administrator or manager, you could work in:

  • the in-house design department of a large company or public organisation
  • a design agency.

You are likely to work in an office area close to the design studio. You will have a lot of contact with other staff, such as designers and account managers. You will also have contact with clients and suppliers. There may be some travel.

The work is based around normal office hours, Monday to Friday, but you may have to work longer hours to support designers close to deadlines.

How do I become a studio administrator?

As an administrator, you need excellent organisational skills. Although you may not be trained in design, you need to have an interest in design and the creative industries.

You also have to be:

  • a hard worker with a can-do attitude
  • a good communicator, both written and verbal
  • good on the telephone
  • able to solve problems
  • able to follow instructions, but also work under your own initiative
  • good at prioritising your work
  • able to work under pressure and think on your feet
  • good at working in a team.

You will need good numeracy, literacy and IT skills. Employers may expect experience of Microsoft Office and specialist design software.

Studio managers have to have a good understanding of the design process. They need to be able to manage staff, budgets and projects.

What qualifications and training do I need?

There are no set entry requirements. Employers are likely to be more interested in your experience than qualifications. They will want a good standard of numeracy and literacy and may expect GCSE English and Maths.

You may be able to get into this work through an apprenticeship in Design or in Business Administration. Once you have administration experience and good administrative skills, you could apply for a job in studio administration.

Studio managers may have a design qualification and are likely to have worked as a designer. If you know you would like to become a studio manager later in your career, you need to start as a designer. You would study one of the design subjects and start work as a junior designer. As you gain experience, you could take on more of the admin and management responsibilities.

Studio managers may have a project management qualification, such as those from the Association for Project Management. Some employers also ask for a driving licence.

What can I earn?

With some experience, you could earn £20,000 to £25,000 per year as a studio admin coordinator, rising to £30,000.

A studio manager could earn £32,000 to £37,000 per year, rising to £45,000 for the management of a large design studio.

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