Lighting Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

You should learn as much as possible about electronics in high school. Physics, mathematics, and any shop courses that introduce electronics equipment provide a good background. You should also take courses that will help you develop computer skills needed for operating lighting and sound equipment. Composition or technical writing classes, as well as speech courses, can give you the communication skills you'll need to collaborate with other technicians, cinematographers, and directors.

Postsecondary Training

There is strong competition for broadcast and motion picture technician positions, and, in general, only well-prepared technicians get good jobs. You should attend a two-year postsecondary training program in electronics and broadcast technology, especially if you hope to advance to a supervisory position. Film schools also offer useful degrees in production, as do theater programs. For a position as a chief engineer, a bachelor's degree is usually required. As part of your education, be sure to participate in an internship at a theater company, film production company, television broadcast station, or other organization that hires lighting technicians.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

No certification or licensing is required for lighting technicians. Some certifications are available, though. The Entertainment Technician Certification Program Council—which was organized by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, InfoComm International, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and other entities—offers the Entertainment Technician Certification Program for entertainment electricians and riggers. Such certification, though not required, can demonstrate professional commitment and accomplishment.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in internships and part-time jobs

Setting up lights can be physically demanding work, especially when lighting a large movie set. You should be able to handle heavy lights on stands and work with suspended lights while on a ladder. Repairs such as changing light bulbs or replacing worn wires are sometimes necessary. You should be able to work with electricians' hand tools (screwdrivers, pliers, and so forth) and be comfortable working with electricity. You should also be dependable and capable of working as part of a team. Communication skills, both listening and speaking, are necessary when working with a director and with assistant light technicians.