Also known as

Spark, lighting technican

What does an electrician in the creative industries do?

In the creative industries, electricians design lighting effects and install the power systems for them. They know the basics of being an electrician. They understand circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, heating, lighting and air conditioning.

But they also understand light, the different effects that can be create through lighting and how this affects emotions, story-telling and the experience of the audience.


Which creative industries need electricians?

Theatre: lighting technician

Carpenters in theatre are known as stagehands. They build the sets.  Starting with drawings from a technical director, they make the platforms, columns, stairs and ramps on or off the stage. They might work with metal as well as wood.

For further information go to: Get into Theatre

Film: gaffer

Gaffers bring to life the overall look of a film by creating and controlling light. They work with the director of photography to understand the desired light effects and figure out how to achieve them. They go on recces see how the lighting will work on location and draw up a list of the kit that will be needed to achieve the artistic vision.

For further information go to: ScreenSkills – construction manager

Music industry: lighting technician

Lighting technicians control the lighting and visuals of a live gig by operating the lighting board. They are responsible for rigging lights, hanging lights, unloading and moving lighting equipment, and making sure all gear is fully functional.

For further information go to: Music UK.

What’s an electrician in the creative industries good at?

  • Understanding light: have an artistic eye, know the techniques required to achieve different lighting effects and the kit needed to achieve them
  • Story-telling: design lighting in a way that contributes to the mood, story and performance of the genre
  • Electrical knowledge: have an in-depth understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, lighting, air conditioning and more
  • Communication: be able to draw up plans and explain them to the crew, be clear and approachable even when making quick decisions under pressure
  • Organisation: work within budget, schedule the crew and the kit requirements

How do I become an electrician in the creative industries?

  • Get yourself qualified. Go to the National Careers Service: lighting technician or National Careers Service: electrician for full details of how to do that.
  • Get to know your chosen creative industry. Look at the Creative Careers Programme list of partners to find websites about your industry. Get to know people by volunteering. Network online through Facebook groups and other social sites. Find out as much as you can about the industries that you enjoy and you will be in a strong position when you apply for jobs.

Where can being a carpenter in the creative industries take me?

Once you have learnt the trade and worked in your industry for several years, you can work your way up.  You could be a gaffer for films like Star Wars or design the lighting for huge music events in arenas at home and across the world.