What Does a Lighting Technician Do

What Does a Lighting Technician Do

Within the world of theater, film, and other productions, experienced lighting technicians play a crucial role in creating and enhancing the visual atmosphere. If you’re interested in working behind the scenes to bring performances to life, becoming a lighting technician might be the career for you.

But what exactly does a lighting technician do? Let’s take a closer look at the main responsibilities and duties of this occupation.

One of the main tasks of a lighting technician is to set up and operate various lighting equipment in order to create the desired lighting effects for a show or production. This includes understanding the different types of lighting fixtures, how to properly position them, and how to use colors, filters, and gobos to enhance the visual experience.

To become a lighting technician, you typically don’t need a college or university degree. However, most employers look for candidates who have completed a two-year apprenticeship or a certification program in lighting or a related trade. These programs provide trainees with the necessary skills and knowledge to work effectively in this field.

One of the best ways to gain practical experience in the field of lighting is to work as an apprentice or a trainee with an experienced lighting technician or a theater company. This hands-on training allows individuals to learn about the different lighting equipment, understand the workflow of a production, and gain valuable experience in using lighting software and control consoles.

Depending on the level of experience and the type of productions you work on, lighting technicians can earn a competitive salary. Entry-level technicians or apprenticeships may earn lower wages, while experienced professionals who work on larger productions or with well-established theater or film companies can earn higher salaries.

If you’re considering a career as a lighting technician, it’s important to understand that this occupation requires not only technical skills but also a certain personality. Lighting technicians need to be detail-oriented, creative, and able to work well in a team environment. They must also have good communication and problem-solving skills, as they often work closely with other members of the production crew to ensure everything runs smoothly.

What Does a Lighting Technician Do?

A lighting technician is a specialized worker who is responsible for the installation, operation, and maintenance of lighting equipment. They work closely with other members of the lighting department, including lighting designers, electricians, and lighting crew members, to ensure that all lighting elements of a production or event are properly handled.

One of the main responsibilities of a lighting technician is to handle the technical aspects of lighting, including the use of specialized tools and equipment. They may need to operate lighting consoles, program and control lighting cues, and troubleshoot any technical issues that arise. Their work may involve setting up and positioning lights, connecting cables, and making sure that all resources are functioning properly.

A lighting technician’s work is especially important in the theater industry, where lighting plays a crucial role in creating the right atmosphere and enhancing the visual experience for the audience. They may work on various types of shows, including plays, musicals, concerts, and dance performances.

To become a lighting technician, one must have a combination of technical skills, creativity, and an understanding of the art of lighting. Many lighting technicians start as trainees or apprentices in a theater or production company, where they learn the trade from experienced professionals. Some may also complete postsecondary training programs or obtain certifications in lighting technology.

In terms of educational requirements, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum. However, some employers may prefer candidates with further education, such as a two-year degree in theater technology or a related field.

The salary of a lighting technician can also vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electricians (which includes lighting technicians) was $56,180 in May 2020.

In summary, a lighting technician’s responsibilities include the installation, operation, and maintenance of lighting equipment. They work closely with other members of the lighting department to create the desired lighting effects for a production or event. To become a lighting technician, one may need a combination of technical skills, creativity, and experience in the field.

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Exploring Responsibilities and Duties

An experienced lighting technician is responsible for creating and managing the lighting effects for various productions, primarily in the theater industry. They work alongside the lighting department and other production teams to achieve the desired visual atmosphere for shows and performances.

Lighting technicians may also be involved in the installation and maintenance of lighting equipment, ensuring that all fixtures are in proper working condition. They may need to read and interpret technical drawings and schematics to complete installations or repairs.

In addition to technical skills, a lighting technician must have good communication and teamwork abilities. They often collaborate with directors, designers, and other crew members to understand their creative vision and bring it to life through lighting.


– Operating lighting consoles and equipment

– Programming and cueing lighting effects

– Maintaining and repairing lighting fixtures

– Collaborating with production teams to understand creative vision

– Setting up and breaking down lighting equipment as needed

– Reading and interpreting technical drawings and schematics


– Creating and managing lighting effects for productions

– Installing and maintaining lighting equipment

– Collaborating with other departments to achieve desired visual atmosphere

– Communicating with directors, designers, and crew members

– Operating lighting consoles and programming cues

– Reading and interpreting technical drawings and schematics

Lighting technicians may also be responsible for training and supervising trainee or junior lighting technicians. They may work for a theater company or be freelance professionals hired for specific productions.

Education and Training: Although there are no specific educational requirements to become a lighting technician, most employers prefer candidates with postsecondary training in theater or a related field. Some technicians may have a two-year college or university degree, while others may have completed an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Hands-on experience and practical skills are highly valued in this profession.

Apprenticeships and internships are popular routes for aspiring lighting technicians to gain practical skills and industry experience. These programs offer the opportunity to work on real productions and learn from experienced technicians. Many technical schools and colleges also offer specialized courses in lighting technology.

Although the work of a lighting technician can be physically demanding and often involves long and irregular hours, it can also be highly rewarding, especially for individuals who are passionate about the creative aspects of lighting design. Whether working in a theater or in the filming industry, lighting technicians play a crucial role in bringing shows and productions to life.

Understanding the Role of a Lighting Technician

A lighting technician is a specialized occupation within the entertainment industry, specifically working in theater, film, television, and live events. This occupation is also sometimes referred to as a lighting designer or electrician. The main responsibility of a lighting technician is to design, install, and operate lighting systems to enhance the overall visual experience of a production.

Lighting technicians work closely with the production crew, including directors, set designers, and stage managers, to understand their vision for how the lighting should look. They use various tools and equipment to create different lighting effects, such as spotlights, color filters, and strobe lights, to effectively set the mood and atmosphere of a show.

Although a lighting technician’s role may be similar to that of an electrician, there are some key differences. While electricians typically focus on the installation and maintenance of electrical systems in general, lighting technicians have a more specialized focus on the design and operation of lighting specifically for entertainment purposes.

Even though formal education or certification is not always necessary, it can greatly enhance job prospects and open up opportunities for advancement within the field. Many employers also prefer hiring technicians who have completed a related program or have significant experience in the field.

The typical work hours for a lighting technician can vary depending on the specific production or company they are working for. The hours can be long and irregular, especially during filming or live events. It is not uncommon for technicians to work evenings, weekends, and holidays to ensure that the lighting is set up and operates smoothly.

When it comes to salary, the average earnings for a lighting technician can vary based on the level of experience and the type of production they are working on. Entry-level technicians may earn less, while experienced technicians who have worked on high-profile shows or events might earn significantly more.

In summary, lighting technicians play a crucial role within the entertainment industry, working behind the scenes to create visually stunning productions. Whether it’s in theater, film, television, or live events, the work of a lighting technician brings the show to life and enhances the audience’s experience.

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Key Skills and Qualifications

In order to become a lighting technician, there are several key skills and qualifications that are needed. Though some of these traits can be developed through apprenticeships or on-the-job training, most technicians go through some form of postsecondary training or education.

Here’s a list of the qualifications and skills that are important in this career:

  • An interest in technology and the ability to learn how to use lighting equipment and resources.
  • Good problem-solving skills, especially when it comes to creating lighting setups for different productions.
  • The ability to work as part of a team and communicate effectively with other crew members.
  • An eye for detail and the ability to carefully watch and adjust lights during a show.
  • Physical stamina, as lighting technicians may need to spend long hours on their feet during rehearsals and performances.
  • A good sense of timing, as lights often need to be changed quickly and accurately during a production.
  • Basic knowledge of electricity and circuits, as lighting technicians need to understand how lights work and how to safely use tools and equipment.

While a formal education is not always required, it can be very beneficial for lighting technicians. Many colleges and universities offer two-year courses or programs in theatre technology or a related field. These programs provide in-depth training and hands-on experience in lighting design and operation.

In addition, completing an apprenticeship or volunteering at a theatre company can also be a great way to gain practical experience and learn more about the trade. This can be especially helpful for those who may not have access to a formal education program.

Once a lighting technician has achieved a certain level of experience and training, they could potentially earn a certification or licensing to further their career. This certification can be obtained through organizations such as the Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP), which offers certification for experienced technicians at different levels.

Typical Hours a Week for a Lighting Technician

As a lighting technician, your work hours can vary depending on the nature of the projects you are working on. On average, lighting technicians often work around 40 hours a week, which is the standard full-time schedule. However, it’s important to note that the workload can increase significantly during busy periods, such as during peak theater or event seasons.

If you are employed by a production company or a theater department, you might have a more consistent schedule. This means that your working hours would typically align with regular business hours, such as 9 AM to 5 PM or similar time frames.

Apprenticeships or formal training programs might also have their own set working hours. For example, if you are completing an apprenticeship or a postsecondary course, you would need to dedicate a certain number of hours per week to class time and practical hands-on experience. These programs may have both classroom-based lessons and on-the-job training.

Overall, a lighting technician’s work schedule can be flexible but demanding. It’s important to be adaptable and prepared to work non-traditional hours, especially if you are working in the theater or events industry. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a lighting technician, read on to learn more about the responsibilities, skills, and traits needed to succeed in this field.


What is the role of a lighting technician?

A lighting technician is responsible for setting up and operating lighting equipment for events, performances, or film shoots. They work closely with directors and other crew members to create the desired lighting effects.

What skills are required to become a lighting technician?

To become a lighting technician, one must have a strong understanding of lighting techniques and equipment, as well as knowledge of electrical systems and safety procedures. They should also possess good communication and problem-solving skills.

What kind of events or productions do lighting technicians work on?

Lighting technicians can work on a variety of events and productions, such as concerts, theater shows, film shoots, and corporate events. They are responsible for creating the appropriate lighting atmosphere based on the specific requirements of each event.

How does a lighting technician set up lighting equipment?

A lighting technician sets up lighting equipment by positioning lights, rigging them to the appropriate height and angle, and connecting them to power sources. They may also have to program lighting consoles to control the intensity, color, and movement of the lights.

Are there any career advancement opportunities for lighting technicians?

Yes, there are career advancement opportunities for lighting technicians. They can progress to become lighting designers or production managers, or they can specialize in certain areas such as concert lighting or film lighting. Continuing education and networking within the industry are important for career growth.

What does a lighting technician do?

A lighting technician is responsible for setting up and operating lighting equipment for various events, such as concerts, theatrical productions, and film or television shoots. They work closely with lighting designers to achieve the desired lighting effects.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.