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Lighting Designer

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

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
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: Theatre Designers (5243.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers (F143) 
  • 2011 NOC: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers (5243) 
Interest Codes
The Lighting Designer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Theatre Designers

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

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 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 More

Updated Oct 21, 2014

Lighting designers consult with directors and other designers to define a stylistic approach for each production. They create light plots and sequence lighting cues which must take into consideration the size, shape and technical capabilities of the theatre or performing space, the visibility of performers and the mood of each scene, and complement set and costume designs.

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

  • read the script and attend some rehearsals to see how the stage or acting area will be used in the production
  • consult with the director and other designers to develop design concepts, create lighting plots, schedules and equipment lists
  • supervise the hanging 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, one 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).

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Lighting designers usually work from home offices and in theatres, conference centres and other event venues. They use a variety of materials, tools and equipment including technology that is unique to the profession. Safety precautions must be observed when climbing ladders, going up lifts, working above others, handling hot lamps and working with electricity.

Long hours may be required to meet production deadlines.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Lighting designers need the following characteristics:

  • creativity and artistic vision
  • flexibility
  • good spatial perception
  • no fear of heights
  • the communication and interpersonal skills required to work effectively with others and market their ideas or services.

They should enjoy synthesizing information about diverse requirements, experimenting and finding innovative solutions to problems, doing precise work with tools and equipment, and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Lighting designers need:

  • an understanding of design principles and elements, and three-dimensional space
  • in-depth knowledge of conventional and moving lighting equipment and accessories, and lighting control equipment
  • practical experience in technical theatre
  • math and drafting skills
  • basic understanding of electricity
  • computer skills (especially computer aided design and drafting).

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.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Alberta University of the Arts

Grande Prairie Regional College

Grant MacEwan University

Thompson Rivers University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Lighting designers work for:

  • theatre companies
  • opera and dance companies
  • festivals
  • corporate, trade and fashion shows
  • television studios
  • film production 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. 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 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.

Lighting designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, Fashion, Exhibit and Other Creative Designers. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 21, 2014

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

Lighting designers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5243: Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers occupational group earned on average from $17.89 to $25.47 an hour. The overall average was $21.04 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Associated Designers of Canada (ADC) website:

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Locals Calgary website:

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Locals Edmonton website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Jan 18, 2013. 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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