Skip to the main content
This website uses cookies to give you a better online experience. By using this website or closing this message, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. More information
Alberta Supports Contact Centre

Toll Free 1-877-644-9992

Alert

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted legislation and services. Information on this website may not reflect the current situation in Alberta. Please visit alberta.ca for up-to-date information about these impacts.

Lighting Technician

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

Also Known As

Light Tech, 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) 
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.

Gaffers and Lighting Technicians
2006 NOC : 5226.3

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

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

Abilities

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

Duties
Updated May 19, 2021

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

  • Work cooperatively 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-controlled consoles to control and time conventional lighting and automated moving lighting, or operate aerial lifts
  • Coordinate lighting rigs with sound and camera technicians, and set carpenters
  • Perform routine maintenance, such as replacing lamps and damaged colour filters or patterns, and ensuring lighting equipment and fixtures are in safe working condition
  • Take down equipment and rigging quickly and safely (especially during touring performances or location shoots)

For remote site film, video or television shoots, lighting technicians survey locations, prepare lighting plans, arrange for the transportation of equipment and generators, and organize equipment set-up and removal.

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 May 19, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Working conditions vary a great deal from one job to another. For example, working on a film or theatrical production in a converted barn or outdoors 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 or fixes are required often. Safety precautions must be observed at all times, particularly when handling hot lamps, climbing ladders or scaffolding, going up lifts, working at heights and handling 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.

Traits & Skills
Updated May 19, 2021

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
  • Communication skills
  • Moderate level of physical fitness, to move heavy equipment safely
  • The ability to work as a team
  • The ability to take instruction from others (such as the lighting designer and director)
  • 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 May 19, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

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

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

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 May 19, 2021

Lighting technicians are employed by:

  • Television stations, networks and cable companies
  • Film and motion picture production companies
  • Theatre, opera and dance companies
  • Concert and festival 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. Some worksites may require union membership to participate.

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. Because this field is so specialized, advancing from technician to the position of lighting designer needs related post-secondary education. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in fine art with a specialization in theatre design is recommended.

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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5226: Other technical and co-ordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
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: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

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

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.

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

2016 NOC : 5226
Average Wage
$24.15
Per Hour
Average Salary
$26,115.00
Per Year
Average Hours
23.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
10.2
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5226 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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 May 19, 2021

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, 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.

Was this page useful?
Top