What does the Head of Lighting do?

The Head of Lighting is responsible for overseeing and implementing all aspects of the lighting design for a production. This position requires a blend of technical proficiency, creative vision, and strong leadership to ensure the lighting design enhances the overall performance and meets the artistic goals of a production.

What are the main responsibilities of the Head of Lighting?

  • Collaborate with the Director, Set Designer, Lighting Designer and other creative team members to implement and develop a lighting design that complements the overall vision of the production
  • Create detailed lighting plots, schedules, and cue sheets
  • Oversee the installation, rigging, and focusing of lighting equipment, including fixtures, gels, gobos, and special effects
  • Ensure all lighting equipment is properly maintained and functioning correctly
  • Attend rehearsals to observe the performance and make necessary adjustments to the lighting
  • Program lighting cues into the lighting control desk and refine them during technical rehearsals
  • Supervise the operation of lighting during performances, either by running the lighting desk or overseeing a Lighting Technician/Operator
  • Lead and manage the lighting crew, including Lighting Technicians, Electricians, and Follow-Spot Operators
  • Delegate tasks and ensure the crew is properly trained and briefed on the production requirements
  • Ensure all lighting work complies with health and safety regulations
  • Conduct risk assessments and implement safety protocols for the installation and operation of lighting equipment
  • Manage the lighting budget, including purchasing or renting equipment and materials
  • Keep track of expenses and ensure the project stays within financial constraints
  • Work closely with other departments, such as sound, set design, and stage management, to ensure seamless integration of lighting with other production elements
  • Communicate effectively with the production team to ensure everyone is aligned on lighting requirements and changes

Search lighting opportunities to help you get into theatre here 

What qualifications do I need to work in lighting?

Although not required, a degree or training in Lighting Design, Theatre Production, Technical Theatre, or a related field can be beneficial. Relevant certifications in lighting technology and electrical safety will be needed as your career develops.

You can gain qualifications in any subject related to lighting and technology such as:

  • Electrical/Electronic Engineering
  • Lighting Design and Technology
  • Theatre Lighting Design
  • Technical Theatre
  • Performing Arts
  • Art & Design

Find training opportunities in lighting to help you get into theatre here

What skills do I need to be the Head of Lighting?

  • In-depth knowledge of lighting equipment, lighting control systems, and software
  • Proficiency in designing and implementing lighting plots and cue sheets
  • Strong artistic and creative skills 
  • Ability to enhance the Director's and Lighting Designer’s vision 
  • Experience in leading and managing a team of Lighting Technicians and Crew 
  • Strong organisational and delegation skills to ensure efficient workflow and task management
  • Ability to troubleshoot technical issues quickly and effectively
  • Resourcefulness in finding creative solutions to lighting challenges
  • Keen attention to detail to ensure precise execution of lighting cues and adjustments
  • Thoroughness in planning and implementing lighting designs
  • Excellent communication skills to work effectively with the production team, performers, and technical crew
  • Ability to collaborate and coordinate with other departments

What does a career as the Head of Lighting look like?

Extensive experience in lighting design, operation and technical understanding, typically gained through working on various theatre productions, is necessary for this role. You can start with an apprenticeship or work experience in technical theatre or as a Technician. You can work your way up to specialising in lighting and developing a lighting design portfolio. Head of Lighting roles are typically based in large scale venues or on large scale shows. 

How much can a theatre Head of Lighting earn?

Grade 1 or 2 rates for 2023-2025 as per the SOLT/BECTU Agreement suggests a minimum weekly rate of £717.57- £840.91. A Head of Lighting can typically earn from £30k - £50k+ per year. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


Published: 6th June 2024

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