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Lighting Designer

Lighting designers design and plan lighting effects for theatre, dance, opera, music concerts, television, video, gaming and film productions.

Also Known As

Designer, Theatre Designer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5243.1: Theatre Designers

2006 NOC-S

  • F143: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers

2011 NOC

  • 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2016 NOC

  • 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2021 NOC

  • 53123: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2023 OaSIS

  • 53123.01: Theatre designers
Updated May 19, 2021

Lighting designers consult with directors and other designers to define a stylistic approach to lighting for each production. They create light scenarios (called plots) and sequence lighting cues. They must consider the size, shape and technical capacity of the theatre or performance space. They must account for the visibility of performers and the mood of each scene. They must also complement special effects, set design, makeup and costumes.

Duties and responsibilities vary from one type of production to another but, in general, lighting designers:

  • Read the script and attend meetings or rehearsals to see how the stage, set or acting area will be used
  • Consult with the director and other designers to develop design concepts, and create lighting plots, schedules and equipment lists
  • Supervise the placement, intensity and focusing of lighting instruments
  • Build lighting cues for the production
  • Attend technical and dress rehearsals to supervise the lighting and make changes as needed

In some theatres, a single designer may be responsible for lighting, set design and costume design. In smaller theatres, the lighting designer also may program and run the lighting board for a production. For more information, see the Lighting Technician occupational profile.

Some lighting designers may lead a team of lighting department personnel. These designers are responsible for assigning tasks and responsibilities. In such positions, they may work with the director of photography and be responsible for lighting equipment purchases or rentals to meet the needs of production. They also may support other production departments by providing electrical power as needed.

Lighting designers are also used in virtual gaming and digital rendering. They work with digital sets and develop virtual lighting plots much the same as real-world lighting, in order to create the proper visual environment for the virtual set. Often, these virtual sets must carefully match lighting used in real sets, in order to achieve a seamless blend of digital and real objects when combined.

Working Conditions
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Lighting designers usually work from home offices and in theatres, conference centres and other event venues. Lighting designers who work on films are present on stage sets and locations. Digital lighting designers often work in studios. Lighting designers use a variety of materials, tools and equipment including electrical technology that is unique to the profession. They must observe safety precautions when climbing ladders, going up lifts, working above others, handling hot lamps and working with electricity.

They may need to work long hours to meet production deadlines.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Theatre Designers

2006 NOC: 5243.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing information to create settings, scenic environments, properties, costumes and lighting for theatre, film, video productions, operas and ballets; and in preparing working drawings, creating special stage lighting patterns and selecting colours, decor and accessories


Interest in precision working with tools to construct miniature sets in cardboard, plaster and other materials; and in sketching and painting plans and submitting them to directors and producers for approval


Interest in speaking with workers when overseeing construction of sets

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 19, 2021

Lighting designers need:

  • Creativity and artistic vision
  • A good sense of how light and colour can convey moods or emotions
  • Flexibility
  • An understanding of design principles and elements
  • In-depth knowledge of lighting equipment and accessories (both conventional and moving), and lighting control equipment
  • Spatial perception
  • Comfort with heights
  • Communication and interpersonal skills, to work effectively with others and market their ideas or services.
  • Practical experience in technical theatre
  • Math and drafting skills
  • Basic understanding of electricity
  • Computer skills (especially computer-aided design and drafting, and lighting control software)

They should enjoy:

  • Synthesizing information about diverse requirements
  • Experimenting and finding innovative solutions to problems
  • Doing precise work with tools and equipment
  • Supervising the work of others

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers

2016 NOC: 5243

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 39 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 02, 2022 and May 24, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Fashion designers design and create clothing and accessories for men, women and children
Tasks: Exhibit designers plan and develop permanent and temporary or moveable exhibits and displays for museum exhibitions, trade shows, conventions, retail spaces and other exhibitions
Construction Specialization: Reliability
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Team player
Tasks: Theatre designers design and create settings, scenic environments, properties, costumes and lighting for theatre, film and video productions, operas and ballets
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Women's clothing
Construction Specialization: Initiative
Educational Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Because this field is so specialized, lighting designers need related post-secondary education. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in fine art with a specialization in theatre design is recommended.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 212 in Calgary offers courses for motion picture and theatre lighting crews. Some courses are designed for ongoing updating of skills. Other courses must be completed in order to be hired to work on certain productions.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 19, 2021

Lighting designers work for:

  • Theatre companies
  • Opera and dance companies
  • Festivals and concert organizers
  • Corporate, trade and fashion shows
  • Television studios
  • Film production companies
  • Digital rendering and gaming companies
  • Architectural design companies

Some theatre companies and film studios employ resident designers, but most lighting designers freelance and negotiate contracts for specific projects. Therefore, aspiring lighting designers must develop a portfolio to market their work. Some worksites may require union membership to participate.

Volunteering to work for community amateur theatre companies or cable television stations provides valuable practice for lighting designers who are trying to gain experience in the field.

Graduates of design programs usually start as lighting designers for smaller theatres or as assistant designers in larger theatres. Advancement generally takes the form of more demanding assignments. Some lighting designers teach in universities or college programs.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group, 81.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 13 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

Most lighting designers are hired on contract for particular productions. Fees vary considerably depending on the production and the designer’s reputation.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 19, 2021

Associated Designers of Canada (ADC) website:

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 212 in Calgary website:

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 210 in Edmonton website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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