How to become a lighting designer?

If you are considering a career as a lighting designer, you may be wondering how to get started. The first step is to get involved in the local theatre, whether that be directing a play or volunteering your time for a production. Community, school, and church theatres are all great places to get involved. Many theatres welcome volunteers, and your involvement in the local theatre will give you valuable experience, build contacts, and increase your appreciation for the craft. Once you have experience, you can start offering your services to other local events to expand your portfolio.

Education requirements

Becoming a lighting designer is a rewarding career path. You’ll work on productions ranging from big-budget films to regular television series. Although the pay may not be as high as the glamorous world of movies and TV shows, it’s a great way to make a decent living. Plus, you’ll be able to pretend your audience is enamored with your spotlight rigging.

While most lighting designers learn on the job, some schools offer coursework to prepare them for this profession. A bachelor’s degree in lighting design from a recognized college or university can lay the foundation for a career in this field. Lighting design students may also study other subjects in school to broaden their skill set. However, no matter where they get their education, they’ll likely need experience in the field to succeed. Here are some of the educational requirements to become a lighting designer.

After completing an accredited design program, most lighting designers begin working on productions as stagehands or assistants. These roles often require long hours and commitment. It can take several years to advance from a stagehand position to the position of lighting technician. To help your career progress, you should network with other members of the production crew, attend meetings, and try to find mentors and peers in the industry. If possible, join the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD).

Once you have obtained your degree, the next step is to find an employer. Some lighting design firms are hiring for a lighting engineer in their company. These employers are always looking for a good lighting designer. But, before you apply for a job, make sure to check with the lighting manufacturer you’re interested in. They’ll be more than willing to pay a fair wage. But, you can also expect to be working with a lot of clients in the lighting design field.

While a lighting designer can start out without a degree, most architectural firms will prefer candidates with at least a Bachelor’s degree. If you don’t want to do academics, consider working as a lighting assistant and working your way up. However, if you want to become a lighting designer, you must be highly skilled in the artistic and technical aspects of the field. Many employers also prefer candidates who have at least some knowledge of electrical safety and construction.

Work experience

There are several essential skills that a Lighting Designer should possess. These include knowledge of the lighting industry, understanding of its costs, and proficiency with lighting modeling software. Additionally, they must have some experience working with energy codes, including national and local illuminance codes. The ability to run COMcheck and a variety of software programs are also required. Having a general understanding of design principles is also essential. As a Lighting Designer, you will be responsible for the overall look and feel of a space, while incorporating design elements in the scheme.

Lighting designers usually have a wide range of experience. They usually have experience in designing sets and working with light fixtures, and 19% have some expertise in Revit. Many of them have strong analytical, problem-solving, and mechanical skills. Other desirable qualities of a Lighting Designer include working with a variety of software, as well as having experience with AutoCAD. Depending on the type of lighting designer you are looking for, you can choose between a position in the film or television industry or one in the commercial and corporate world.

For entry-level jobs in the lighting industry, it is helpful to gain relevant work experience. You may have the opportunity to shadow existing lighting designers or perform other roles in the production crew. If you have the appropriate skills and are willing to take responsibility for your professional development, you can seek out work experience in a lighting company or in a postgraduate film school. Additionally, you can consider joining a professional lighting association to keep abreast of the latest trends in the lighting industry.

An Associate Lighting Designer is expected to work closely with the Engineering Department to design and develop new lighting fixtures. The job requires exceptional communication skills and knowledge of LED technology. Associate Lighting Designers are expected to design and manufacture LED lighting fixtures and create all necessary supporting documentation for projects. They are also required to provide technical support to customers and assist with the design and production of existing products. If you are interested in working as a Lighting Designer, a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering or an electrical degree is highly desirable.


If you’re interested in becoming a lighting designer, you’ll need a degree in lighting design. You may also consider related fields, such as theater, interior design, or architecture. In addition to technical knowledge, lighting designers must have a good sense of aesthetics, and an artistic eye. Depending on your interests and ambitions, you can even work as a lighting designer while attending school. In either case, you’ll need to be prepared to travel and work a lot.

You can also choose a master’s program, such as a Master of Professional Studies in Lighting Design, which is a one-year program that provides rigorous training in architectural lighting design. Because classes are offered at evenings, they are accessible to working professionals. In the Fall of 2020, distance learning is available for this program. In a live class, remote and on-site students will use the latest digital technologies to share information and engage in a collaborative experience. In addition, all students will spend four days in New York City for intensive residencies to network and expand their knowledge.

During school, lighting designers may work on student or community film projects. They can also work as lighting technicians, under the supervision of the director of photography. To improve their chances of landing a job, lighting technicians should build their networks by getting involved in other production crew positions. If possible, they should contribute meaningfully to production meetings. Furthermore, it would be an advantage to gain mentorships in the industry, who can provide valuable insight and guidance for their development.

A degree is not required to become a lighting designer, but many architectural lighting design firms prefer candidates with a Bachelor’s degree. Aspiring lighting designers can work on a lighting crew and eventually work their way up to a full-fledged position. Schooling to become a lighting designer involves studying the properties of light and manipulating it. Among other courses, a Bachelor’s program in lighting design also features multiple courses in VectorWorks, an industry-standard CAD software.


Salary for lighting designer varies by region and company size. You may be eligible for a higher salary if you have extensive experience or are working for a high-profile company. However, there are other factors to consider before negotiating your salary. Listed below are some of the factors that will affect the salary of lighting designers. If you are not yet sure about the salary range for lighting designers in your region, check out some of the following resources for more information.

An undergraduate degree in lighting design can earn you a minimum of $64,865 a year. A Masters or Doctorate degree can earn you a minimum of $79,830 a year. An Associate’s degree is also an option. You can make a great living as a lighting designer, though the median salary is lower. You can use payscale to research salaries in different cities and skill levels. However, you should bear in mind that interior designers can earn up to $65,632 a year.

There are several steps to get started as a lighting designer. First, volunteer to do calls. Then, work your way up to Master Electrician and Lighting Designer. Be prepared to stay late and work long hours. It might take a few years to advance in this field, so this might take you longer than college. However, you will be working on your career, creating joy for thousands of people. A lighting designer is also responsible for the surprise element in live performances.

Lighting designers on Broadway typically belong to the United Scenic Artists union. According to their union contract, they are guaranteed minimum salaries. Most Broadway lighting designers negotiate a contract fee, but the minimum is $4,000. Then, depending on the show’s needs, they may work for several weeks on the same production. They are often on the road, so a full-time salary for this position isn’t always the highest.

Lighting designers are responsible for creating the mood and ambiance of an event. They plan the placement of lights, their movement, and timing. Lighting designers collaborate with sound and electrical departments to create a cohesive and visually exciting event. Lighting designers also help with videography, as well as postgraduate film students. And, of course, it’s helpful to have some experience in the entertainment industry. These opportunities can help you get your foot in the door as a lighting designer.