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Want to be a Lighting Technician?

The Job

Lighting technicians produce the lighting effects seen at live events such as concerts, conferences and theatre, or in film and TV productions, providing basic spotlighting to installing and operating pyrotechnics special effects.

What's a Gaffer?

For those seeking to be the boss of the electrical department, you'll get to be called the ‘gaffer'. This is a person responsible for the execution (and sometimes the design) of the lighting plan for a production in the film and stage industry.

What's the work like

Lighting technicians' tasks vary depending on whether they work on a film, TV or in theatre production, but would probably include making sure that lighting equipment and generators are in good working order and are set up correctly, and helping to rig up (and take down) the lighting equipment

What skills and knowledge will I need?

You will need to have the physical stamina and a head for heights to be a lighting technician, plus have good practical and mathematical skills together with a knowledge of electrical systems

What qualifications should I have?

You can follow one of two routes to be a lighting technician. Some choose to qualify as an electrician first (see job profile for electrician) and then get practical experience in production lighting; whereas others take a technical theatre course at college or university.

What sort of hours would I have to work?

Hours of work will vary for this job, and expect them to be long and/or irregular as, for example, in film or TV, you may be required to work any time of the day or night, depending on filming schedules and locations.

How much can I expect to earn

Pay will vary according to where and who you work for. However, as a guide you could expect to earn in theatre somewhere between £15,000 and £25,000 a year [as at 2009].

What opportunities are there

Lighting technicians' jobs are mainly advertised on industry websites these days, but some may still appear in the national or trade press. In some areas of the industry, it seems to be common practice to get work through word of mouth and by contacting companies yourself.

Useful websites:

The following websites should be useful for job vacancies and general information: