What does a Lighting Designer do?

A Lighting Designer will work with the Director, Artistic Director and/or Lighting Technicians to create the visuals for lighting, lasers, strobes, spots and sometimes video screens for a performance.

What are the main responsibilities of a Lighting Designer?

  • Work with the creative team to come up with ideas
  • Design the lighting needed for the performance
  • Be aware of health and safety aspects
  • Write a lighting plot/script to note where there are any lighting changes
  • Attend technical rehearsals
  • Be aware of budgets and energy use

Find a variety of different opportunities in lighting design here. 

What qualifications do I need to be a Lighting Designer?

While you do not need a degree for this role, here are some useful subjects and courses that you can study to gain knowledge and experience.

School subjects that are relevant for lighting design are:

  • Drama and Theatre Studies
  • Art and Design
  • Electronics
  • Physics
  • Photography
  • Media Studies

Further education at colleges or universities:

  • Lighting Design and Technology
  • Technical Theatre
  • Theatre Lighting Design
  • Electrical Engineering

Find training opportunities in lighting design here.

What skills do I need to be a Lighting Designer?

These are the desirable skills to have which would make you an ideal candidate for a Lighting Designer role:

  • Technical skills
  • Ability to work under pressure to tight deadlines
  • Good communicator
  • Excellent colour vision

What does a career in lighting design look like?

You could start as Crew or Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) to gain experience before moving on to become a Lighting Technician or Theatre Technician and then, once you have more experience, move into a Lighting Designer role. Find out how Lighting Designer and Technician Rajiv Pattani got into theatre and how you can too. 

How much can a Lighting Designer earn?

Most Lighting Designers are employed on a freelance basis, meaning that you are self-employed. In bigger theatres, some employ a resident Lighting Designer which pays an annual salary, however this is rare. These are the typical rates you can charge as a freelance Lighting Designer, however it mainly depends on the project, what is expected of you and what experience you have.

Starting pay/salary: from £100 a day

Experienced pay/salary: up to £225 a day.

Find theatre vacancies with The Stage Jobs here


Photo: Shutterstock

Published: 04 March 2019

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