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Lighting Technician

Lighting technicians set up, maintain and operate light fixtures, and control devices and the associated electrical and rigging equipment used for television, motion picture and theatre and stage productions.

  • Avg. Salary $26,115.00
  • Avg. Wage $24.15
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Theatre Lighting Technician

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: Gaffers and Lighting Technicians (5226.3) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Technical and Coordinating Occupations in Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and the Performing Arts (F126) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts (5226) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts (5226) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

18%
18%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Lighting Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Gaffers and Lighting Technicians
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to position, set up and operate various lighting equipment to illuminate sets, studios and scenes, and to select and position equipment, manually or using a hoist

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to follow cue sheets and scripts when signalling electrical crews to operate lights during filming and broadcasting

innovative

Interest in varying intensity of light using a wide range of techniques, and in repairing lighting equipment

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Lighting technicians use conventional lighting fixtures, moving head and mirror fixtures, colour filters, patterns, light modifiers and various methods of control and manipulation to create different lighting effects. In general, they:

  • work co-operatively with the head electrician, a lighting designer or director, director of photography or gaffer (head of the electrics department) to implement lighting designs
  • read and interpret blueprints, and use computer-assisted design (CAD) software to create drawings
  • set up, focus and operate lighting fixtures, control consoles and auxiliary equipment
  • perform simple electrical wiring tasks (usually 120v), troubleshoot circuits and calculate maximum circuit loads
  • use manual or computer-control consoles to control conventional lighting and automated moving lighting, or operate aerial lifts
  • co-ordinate lighting rigs with sound technicians and stage carpenters
  • perform routine maintenance such as replacing lamps and damaged colour filters or patterns, and ensuring lighting equipment and fixtures that are fixed into the infrastructure of the venue are in safe working condition.

For remote television broadcasts, lighting technicians survey locations, prepare lighting plans, arrange for the transportation of equipment and organize equipment set-up.

In smaller organizations with no lighting director or designer, lighting technicians also may:

  • attend production meetings and discuss lighting needs and special effects with directors
  • design the lighting and decide where to place lighting equipment to achieve desired effects
  • prepare budgets and work within allocated resources
  • perform other duties, such as operating audio equipment.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Working conditions vary a great deal from one job to another. For example, working on a theatre production in a converted barn is very different from working in a television studio. In general, however, lighting technicians spend a lot of time on their feet and the pace of work can become hectic. Last-minute changes are required often. Safety precautions must be observed at all times, particularly when handling hot lamps, climbing ladders, going up lifts, working at heights and working on electrical cables and equipment.

Hours of work also vary:

  • Lighting technicians employed by large television stations generally work 40-hour weeks, including evenings and weekends. Technicians covering important events or working on television series may be required to work 10 to 12 hours a day, sometimes from remote locations or in bad weather conditions.
  • Those employed in theatres often work daytime hours prior to and during technical rehearsals, and evening hours for the run of the show.
  • Those employed in motion picture and theatre productions may work highly irregular hours with short deadlines. Some travel may be required to film in remote locations or accompany theatre and concert productions on tour.

Lighting technicians routinely are required to lift and carry equipment. Occasionally, they may be required to lift equipment weighing up to 20 kilograms or more.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Lighting technicians need:

  • quick thinking, to resolve technical problems while observing safety precautions at the same time
  • adaptability, to work with a variety of production styles and requirements
  • moderate level of physical fitness, to move heavy equipment safely
  • the ability to work as a team and gain the confidence of performing artists
  • the ability to meet deadlines
  • the ability to improvise when the perfect tools are not available

They should enjoy working with tools and electric and electronic equipment on tasks requiring precision. They also should enjoy having clear guidelines for their work and finding innovative ways to do things.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Lighting technicians need a basic understanding of electricity, colour theory, lighting equipment, light modifiers, and dimmers and control desks. They also must be able to apply their knowledge in a variety of situations. Some knowledge of electronics is an asset.

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.

In addition, lighting technicians may need to complete training courses provided by manufacturers of lighting equipment used during production.

Some employers may require completion of accident prevention or response training such as fall arrest and first aid.

In the past, many lighting technicians learned on the job. However, the field is becoming more and more technical and competition for positions is keen. Most employers prefer to hire people who have related education or experience. Creative talent and training is a definite asset for lighting technicians who want to advance in the field.

Lighting technicians need to keep up with changes in technology.


Related Education

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

Grant MacEwan University

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Lighting technicians working as generator operators or set wiremen are subject to regulations for electricians.

Also, some employers may require staff to be Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) certified.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Lighting technicians are employed by:

  • television stations, networks and cable companies
  • film and motion picture production companies
  • theatre and dance companies
  • concert promoters
  • trade shows
  • lighting equipment manufacturers, suppliers and rental companies
  • architectural lighting companies
  • museums, theme parks and cruise ship companies
  • post-secondary schools.

In motion picture and theatre lighting, employment may be seasonal or short term. Even experienced workers may experience periods of unemployment.

Experienced lighting technicians in large organizations may advance to supervisory positions, such as head electrician, lighting director or gaffer. Further advancement generally requires further education, which may be acquired through specialized workshops and seminars.

Lighting technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts. In Alberta, 90% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

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

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • 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)
  • 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 Mar 31, 2017

Rates of pay for lighting technicians vary depending on the nature of the work, the location, and the skills and reputation of the worker.

Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $10.67 $30.91 $21.54 $21.00
Overall $10.67 $38.46 $24.15 $22.50
Top $10.67 $38.46 $26.34 $25.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

18%
18%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

0%
0%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

0%
0%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) website: etcp.esta.org

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 212 in Calgary website: www.iatse212.com

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 210 in Edmonton website: www.iatse210.com

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

Updated Mar 31, 2017. 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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