Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month, we explore the role of a Toymaker.
So what is a Toymaker?
Toymakers design, plan, test and create toys for babies, children and sometimes adults.
As a traditional toymaker, you could make toys by hand, such as doll houses and rocking horses. If you work for a large manufacturer you will develop new products based on original ideas and sketches.
You will spend time promoting your work and design services to clients and customers. Your work could be sold in shops or at craft and toy fairs.
To export your products in Europe you will need to conform to the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 and attach the UKCA mark to each toy.
You will work normal hours but will be expected to work overtime in order to complete projects.
Most toymakers/designers spend a lot of time in a workshop, planning and developing their products.
Type of work
If employed as a toy designer by a manufacturer, you may work purely with computer design software and create, rather than construct, your designs.
You could work on a self-employed basis, making and designing toys. A small number of toymakers also restore antique toys.
You will usually work alone.
Things to consider
Creating fun, attractive toys to be enjoyed by children and adults alike is a rewarding career. It is satisfying to see your original designs come to life as a finished product.
Risk of injury/accident
In larger firms employees are likely to be exposed to some higher risk manufacture processes.
Competition is high and vacancies for toy designers are limited at manufacturing companies.
Little progression opportunity
Those who become self-employed can expect it to take time and hard work to establish a business.
You could specialise in making a specific type of toy that you enjoy, anything from teddies and trains to educational toys and games.
Most people have GCSEs in core subjects and you will need further professional training
There are no formal entry requirements but many entrants have a background in art and design. An HND or degree can be an advantage and relevant subjects include art and design, product design, graphic design or 3D design. Qualifications in child behaviour and psychology may also be useful. Higher education institutions sometimes have links with toy manufacturers which can provide a useful first step into the industry. Minimum entry requirements for a degree are usually 2 A levels/3 H grades or equivalent, 5 GCSEs/National 5s (C or above, or 4 or above in England) and a portfolio of work. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland many students take a 1-year Foundation course as preparation for an art and design degree. In Scotland, the first year of a 4-year degree equates to the Foundation year. Alternatively, those who do not wish to pursue a degree could take the BTEC Level 3 Award/Certificate/Diploma in Design Crafts or the BTEC Higher National in 3D design (Levels 4 and 5).
Starting salaries for toy designers working for toy manufacturers range from £10,000 to £15,000 per year.
Those with experience who work in a large company can expect £23,000–£35,000.
The most successful designers of popular toys can achieve in excess of £45,000.
Going to toy makers conventions, such as Toy Con UK, is a great way to meet designers and buyers alike and begin the process of building a solid base of professional connections.
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Emma Davies works within the editorial department at Trotman Publishing. Graduating from her Masters degree in 2017, she is familiar with all aspects of the student journey through university. She is passionate about helping students find the right career, and was a member of the SYP’s inaugural committee in the South West.