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Occupational Profile

Lighting Technician

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

Related Video(s)
Lighting Technician (7:04)

  • Avg. Salary $45,100.00
  • Avg. Wage $23.32
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Theatre Lighting Technician

NOC & Interest Codes
The Lighting Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Gaffers and Lighting Technicians
NOC code: 5226.3
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 Oct 12, 2016

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 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), trouble shoot circuits and calculate maximum circuit loads
  • use manual or computer control consoles to control conventional lighting and automated moving lighting throughout a production
  • co-ordinate lighting rigs with sound techicians and stage carpenters
  • perform routine maintenance functions such as replacing lamps and damaged colour filters or patterns, and maintaining lighting equipment 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 them
  • perform other duties such as operating audio equipment.
Working Conditions
Updated Oct 12, 2016

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 often are required. 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 hours a week 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 be required to 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 Oct 12, 2016

Lighting technicians must be able to:

  • concentrate on the lighting during a production, respond quickly to technical problems and continue to observe safety precautions at the same time
  • work as part of a team and gain the confidence of performing artists
  • adapt to a variety of production styles and requirements
  • meet deadlines
  • keep up with changes in technology
  • improvise when the perfect tools are not available
  • move heavy equipment safely (which requires a moderate level of physical fitness).

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 12, 2016

Lighting technicians need a basic understanding of electricity, colour theory, lighting equipment, light modifiers, dimmers and control desks, and must be able to apply their knowledge in a variety of situations. Some knowledge of electronics is an asset. Fall arrest certification, first aid certification or completion of the Entertainment Technician Certification Program may be required.

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.


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.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 12, 2016

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 institutions.

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

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 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 12, 2016

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


Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Drama
  • English Language Arts
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 12, 2016

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

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Locals in Calgary website: http://www.iatse212.com

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Locals in Edmonton website: http://www.iatse210.com

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jan 09, 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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