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Lighting Engineer Careers

Lighting engineers work in the entertainment industry, contributing to creating the visuals for theatre, television, or film performances by lighting the scenes. They create lighting effects to change the mood of the set by operating lighting boards.

You will be an important member of the crew, responsible not only for controlling lights, but hanging and rigging them as well, moving them to the appropriate position. You will select the right temperature and intensity of the light necessary to create the desired effects. You will have to know how to apply shades and covers to spread or direct light in any way the director wishes. Your creative input will be necessary as well, and you will be there to give advice on best practices and solutions.

People in this profession typically learn their craft working the job. Working as an apprentice in a theatre or a local arena is a great way to start. Passion is the most important asset you can have here on a personal level, as is often the case with careers of a creative nature. Once you find your way into the industry, you will be able to make $84,000 on average per year.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a lighting engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $39.36 an hour? That's $81,873 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 2% and produce 8,000 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Lighting Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many lighting engineers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed initiative, speaking skills and writing skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a lighting engineer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 24.3% of lighting engineers included a/v, while 22.3% of resumes included special events, and 16.3% of resumes included technical aspects. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the lighting engineer job title. But what industry to start with? Most lighting engineers actually find jobs in the manufacturing and hospitality industries.

How To Become a Lighting Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a lighting engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 48.8% of lighting engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 8.2% of lighting engineers have master's degrees. Even though most lighting engineers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a lighting engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a lighting engineer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on lighting engineer resumes include high school diploma degrees or master's degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a lighting engineer. In fact, many lighting engineer jobs require experience in a role such as audio engineer. Meanwhile, many lighting engineers also have previous career experience in roles such as internship or sound engineer.

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Average Salary
$81,873
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
2%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
18,969
Job Openings

Lighting Engineer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Lighting Engineer

Top Careers After Lighting Engineer

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Lighting Engineer

Lighting Engineers in America make an average salary of $81,873 per year or $39 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $105,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $63,000 per year.
Average Salary
$81,873

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Palo Alto, CA
Salary Range74k - 125k$97k$96,616
Portland, OR
Salary Range63k - 103k$81k$81,061
Troy, MI
Salary Range59k - 93k$74k$74,147
Westlake, OH
Salary Range58k - 92k$74k$73,662
Syracuse, NY
Salary Range53k - 85k$67k$67,426
$53k
$125k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Signal & Street Lighting Engineer III (Multiple Positions)
Signal & Street Lighting Engineer III (Multiple Positions)
City of Portland
City of Portland
10/26/2020
10/26/2020
$83,32510/26/2020
$83,325
Lighting Engineer
Lighting Engineer
Bartech Group
Bartech Group
07/30/2019
07/30/2019
$66,78407/30/2019
$66,784
Vehicle Lighting Engineer .02)
Vehicle Lighting Engineer .02)
Faraday and Future Inc.
Faraday and Future Inc.
03/14/2019
03/14/2019
$83,45003/14/2019
$83,450
Optical Lighting Engineer
Optical Lighting Engineer
Q-Lab Corporation
Q-Lab Corporation
03/05/2019
03/05/2019
$80,00003/05/2019
$80,000
Lighting Engineer
Lighting Engineer
Industrial Light & Energy, Inc.
Industrial Light & Energy, Inc.
02/27/2019
02/27/2019
$80,30002/27/2019
$80,300
See More Recent Salaries

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Lighting Engineer Demographics

Gender

male

89.8 %

female

5.6 %

unknown

4.6 %

Ethnicity

White

67.4 %

Asian

15.4 %

Hispanic or Latino

9.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.5 %

German

12.5 %

French

12.5 %
See More Demographics

Lighting Engineer Education

Majors

Music
15.7 %
Business
10.4 %

Degrees

Bachelors

48.8 %

Associate

17.1 %

High School Diploma

15.3 %

Top Colleges for Lighting Engineers

1. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

2. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

4. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

5. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

6. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

7. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,353
Enrollment
24,841

8. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tallahassee, FL • Public

In-State Tuition
$5,785
Enrollment
7,711

9. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

10. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,870
Enrollment
53,194
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Lighting Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 24.3% of lighting engineers listed a/v on their resume, but soft skills such as initiative and speaking skills are important as well.

Best States For a Lighting Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a lighting engineer. The best states for people in this position are Virginia, Washington, California, and New Jersey. Lighting engineers make the most in Virginia with an average salary of $100,847. Whereas in Washington and California, they would average $95,707 and $88,009, respectively. While lighting engineers would only make an average of $87,869 in New Jersey, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Virginia

Total Lighting Engineer Jobs:
1,010
Highest 10% Earn:
$151,000
Location Quotient:
1.64
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Washington

Total Lighting Engineer Jobs:
658
Highest 10% Earn:
$152,000
Location Quotient:
1.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Mexico

Total Lighting Engineer Jobs:
137
Highest 10% Earn:
$136,000
Location Quotient:
1.07
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Lighting Engineer Employers

1. Sound
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$80,146
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
5+
2. General Electric
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$106,761
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
4+
3. Tesla
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$89,169
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
4+
4. Metro Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$73,896
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
4+
5. Hubbell
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$66,712
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
3+
6. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$76,859
Lighting Engineers Hired: 
3+
Updated October 2, 2020