Lighting, Sound, Staging, Vision Technicians

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2018: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1201 to $1500 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief Lighting, Sound, Staging and Vision Technicians are the show technicians who install and operate the technical equipment for every kind of live performance and event, film and TV production.

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Show technicians work collaboratively with each other and with stage managers, production managers, lighting and sound designers, directors, choreographers, performers and other technicians and designers. They use industry specific high-end technology, electronic and mechanical equipment.

During periods of high demand technicians often work on more than one show at a time to maximise their income during peak periods, e.g. setting up various shows during the day, operating for another show in the evening and fitting in one-night-stands on their ‘day off'.

Peaks in demand can be seasonal so most technicians have skills in a number of the technical areas to maximise their employability and continuity of employment. Technicians have to be proactive in seeking employment and are often organising employment several months in advance.

Graduates are employed in all sectors of performing arts, entertainment and other creative industries including theatre, opera and dance companies, film and TV productions, arts centres, festivals and arts events, sports and tourism events, conventions and corporate theatre, museums, casinos, theme parks and other tourism linked entertainment.

Education Requirements

You need an industry specific Certificate, Diploma or Advanced Diploma. Occasionally, a few work places will take on a trainee without much training or experience but this is less common than entering employment with a completed qualification.

TAFE SA Adelaide College of the Arts offers the Advanced Diploma of Stage Management and the Advanced Diploma of Design for Live Production, Theatre and Events. Pathways include the Certificate III in Live Production, Theatre and Events (Technical Operations) and the Diploma of Live Production, Theatre and Events (Technical Production).

The Technical Production program at AC Arts has achieved close to 100% employment rates for its graduates for over a decade.

Desirable Entry Skills and Personal Attributes
To have the best chance at success you need basic computer skills - Word Processing & Spreadsheet, E-communication, and research skills. You also require good hand skills and basic tool skills, creativity, imagination and initiative. Maths or Science to year 10 level, good personal time management skills and proficiency in written and spoken English are also desirable skills for this occupation.

You need to be:
- a good communicator, able to work collaboratively with a wide range of people
- able to think and plan ahead and think and work creatively
- able to work with high end technology and electronic & mechanical equipment
- able to work under pressure and meet deadlines
- able to work as part of a creative team
- able to use creativity and innovation to troubleshoot and problem solve
- able to work in a constantly changing environment
- highly motivated about pursuing a professional career in entertainment or related industries
- and have a mature work ethic.

These are physically demanding occupations and you need to be reasonably fit.

Relevant Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Codes
4992-11 Sound Technician, 4992-21 Light Technician, 4992-79 Performing Arts Support Workers, nec, 2422-11 Vocational Education Teacher, 2536-23 Technical Director (Theatre)

Career Path

Initially graduates start out as casual or part time employees and may work for many different employers within one year. Over time by developing a good reputation and gaining the recognition of employers, production managers and head technicians, they move on to be employed on a more regular basis and may eventually secure a permanent position with an Arts, Convention Centre or other venue, with a Production Company or with a Production Services Company. Technicians are also employed by high schools and tertiary education and training organisations to provide technical support and to provide VET training for students. Most often employment is gained through ‘word-of-mouth', on the recommendation of other professionals.

The career paths for technicians include the following occupations;
Entry Level: Lighting Technician, Sound Technician, Mechanist/Staging Technician, Vision Technician, Follow Spot Operator, Gaffer, Grip

Middle Level: Lighting Operator, Sound Operator, Sound Mixer, Flyman, Vision Operator

Senior Level: Head Lighting Technician, Head Sound Technician, Head Mechanist/Staging Technician, Head Vision Technician, Head/Key Gaffer, Head/Key Grip, ‘Best Boy', Production Manager, Technical Manager, Technical Director

Executive Level: Operations Manager

Relevant Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) Codes
4992-11 Sound Technician, 4992-21 Light Technician, 4992-79 Performing Arts Support Workers, nec, 2422-11 Vocational Education Teacher, 2536-23 Technical Director (Theatre)

Nature of the Job

Lighting Technicians: set up and operate lighting equipment.

Typical tasks include,
- reading plans, taking measurements, making calculations
- studying designers plans and preparing equipment, accessories, colour and effects equipment
- selecting, rigging, patching and focusing spotlights
- troubleshooting minor equipment problems
- plotting cues into computer lighting boards
- operating lighting during performances
- operating follow spots, smoke machines and other special effects equipment
- maintaining and repairing lighting equipment
- working at heights
- using power tools

Sound Technicians: set up and operate technical equipment to amplify, enhance, record, mix or reproduce sound.

Typical tasks include,
- reading plans, taking measurements, making calculations
- setting up sound equipment – mixing desks, amps, effects racks, rigging speakers
- selecting and adjusting microphones
- plotting and adjusting sound levels for cues
- testing and balancing the system to get the best quality sound for the venue
- troubleshooting minor equipment problems
- liaising with performers and instructing them on microphone use
- mixing live sound and pre-recorded sound sources during performances
- recording and editing sound or music tracks
- working at heights
- using power tools

Staging Technicians, (Mechanists): assemble sets and operate mechanical equipment.

Typical tasks include,
- reading plans, taking measurements, making calculations
- calculating safe working loads and selecting the appropriate rigging gear for jobs
- assembling and setting up stage scenery
- rigging suspended scenery, curtains and lifting equipment
- working out the best method for storage and setting of scenery during performances
- running the scenery movements during performances
- operating the mechanical components of the stage including trap doors, lifting equipment, flown scenery, revolves, stage trucks and other movable scenery
- troubleshooting minor equipment problems
- carrying out maintenance and repairs of stage scenery, venue resources and associated equipment
- working at heights
- using power, air and hydraulic tools

Vision Technicians: set up and operate projectors, screens and image sources including computers, cameras, DVD's, monitors and other playback and recording equipment.

Typical tasks include,
- reading plans, taking measurements, making calculations
- rigging projectors, screens and setting up monitors
- installing and hooking up control and source equipment
- integrating vision audio into the sound system
- plotting and operating cues
- troubleshooting minor equipment problems
- making or modifying source material for clients, e.g. Power Point presentations
- maintaining equipment
- working at heights
- using power tools

Typical Physical Working Environment

Show technicians are usually based in capital cities or large regional cities. Technicians are regularly employed by theatre venues, Arts & Convention Centres, Production Companies and Production Services Companies who hire out equipment and provide technicians for all kinds of shows, events and films. Work can be in venues, outdoors, in studios or on location.

Show technicians work long and irregular hours including nights and weekends to meet production requirements. These are highly portable careers with the opportunity to travel and work worldwide.

Typical Occupational Example

There are people doing these jobs in every sector of the entertainment industry. From drama, dance, musicals and for other production companies to the music industry, major events, conventions and trade shows, film and television productions.

Further information:

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Phone: 1300 656 513

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online