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Lighting technician

Lighting technicians set up and operate lighting for concerts, conferences and theatre, or in film and TV productions.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable. per week

1. Entry requirements

You could qualify as an electrician and get practical experience in production lighting. You could also do a college course to learn skills like stage electrics and lighting design. 

You’ll need relevant practical experience, like a traineeship with a specialist lighting company, or work experience in:

  • lighting equipment hire theatres or concert venues
  • amateur theatre
  • student or community film projects
You could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship.

Making a showreel or portfolio of your work can help.

You’ll need colour-normal vision.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • practical and numeracy skills
  • communication and people skills
  • creativity and problem-solving skills
  • the ability to follow technical and design instructions

3. What you'll do

You’ll usually specialise in film and TV, or theatre, concerts and live events.

Your work would range from basic spotlighting to operating strobes, lasers and pyrotechnics. 

Depending on your role, your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • interpreting a lighting designer's plan
  • carrying out risk assessments for health and safety purposes
  • planning where to run cables and place lights at film locations
  • helping to rig and check the equipment
  • taking cues from the stage manager in theatre or the floor manager in TV
  • programming and operating manual and computer-controlled lighting systems taking down the equipment after shows or filming
You may be the only lighting technician on a theatre production, or you could be part of a large crew on a concert tour or feature film.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £30,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 (senior positions)

Freelance work is more common than permanent work.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Hours can be long and irregular. In film and TV, you’ll work any time of the day or night, depending on filming schedules. Live performances usually take place in the evening, but may also involve you setting up equipment during the day.

Your working environment will vary. Location work and outdoor concerts can involve working in all weather conditions. Theatres and studios can be very hot. You may have to work at height.

You may also be required to wear protective clothing like safety boots, and use equipment like safety harnesses.

The work could involve time spent away from home and some travel abroad.

6. Career path and progression

You could work on more complex events, or specialise in areas like electrical safety, inspection and testing, pyrotechnics or rigging.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016