Lighting technician

Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would set up the lights for TV shows and films or live events like concerts and plays. You’d operate the lights during the shows and events and create amazing special lighting effects.

Your work could range from basic spotlighting for conferences or presentations to operating strobes, lasers and pyrotechnics at massive live concerts. You would normally specialise in film and TV, including working on location, or focus on theatre and live events, as the techniques and equipment are different.

Depending on where you work, you would:

  • Interpret a lighting designer's plan
  • Carry out risk assessments for health and safety purposes
  • Plan where to run cables and place lights at film locations
  • Help to rig up the lighting equipment
  • Set up generators on location
  • Make sure that lighting equipment and generators are working
  • Program the consoles and load automated colour change systems before a show
  • Take cues from the stage manager in theatre or the floor manager in TV productions
  • Operate manual and computer-controlled lighting systems during a show
  • Take down the equipment after shows or filming

You may be the only lighting technician on a theatre production, or you could be part of a large crew with a concert tour or feature film.

You would need to have knowledge of electrical systems and electronics. Being physically fit and having a head for heights will also help you to work with heavy equipment high above a stage or studio.

Working conditions

Hours

Your hours are likely to be long and irregular. In film and TV, you could work any time of the day or night, depending on filming schedules. Live performances usually take place in the evening, but may also involve you setting up equipment during the day.

Environment

Your working environment would vary. Location work and outdoor concerts can involve working in all weather conditions. Theatres and studios can be very hot. You may have to work at heights on cranes or scaffolding. You may also be required to wear protective clothing like safety boots and use equipment such as safety harnesses.

Travel

The work could involve time spent away from home and some travel abroad.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Following instructions
  • Working with your hands
  • Programming computers
  • Being physically fit
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Being creative

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Many courses and employers will require qualifications at SCQF levels 4 to 6.

You would need relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as: 

  • a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Electrical Installation (SVQ level 3) or Certificate in Technical Theatre Support: Sound, Light and Stage (QCF level 2/3).
  • a National Certificate (SCFQ level 6), Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) in Technical Theatre or Production Technology.

You can enter some Technical Theatre National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. 

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employer)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employer)
  • English
  • Technologies such as engineering science
  • Photography
  • Media
  • Drama 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience working with lighting or similar technologies within photography, drama or film.

The Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) runs special courses that may be very helpful.