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Technical Director

Education and Training: Experience in theater, maintenance, and technical issues
Average Salary: $49,000
Job Outlook: Fair

The technical director of a theater company or theater is responsible for the many technical aspects of a theater production. Technical directors can also work with film production in the same roles. In a smaller theater, the technical director may directly run many of the theater’s technical assets, including communications, sound, and lighting equipment. In a larger facility, the director is more likely to work with a larger staff, overseeing technical matters rather than running them directly.

Technical directors are responsible for designing, maintaining, and operating the sound and light systems for a theater or movie production company. This person also works with production managers and lighting and sound designers to oversee all the technical aspects of lights, sound, and other equipment. Besides this, at most theaters, the technical director will help prepare production budgets, hire and oversee technical staff, attend weekly rehearsals, and work independently to maintain technical equipment.

Education and Training Requirements

Although some larger theaters may require a bachelor’s degree in a related area, many technical directors are hired for experience alone. A technical director should have plenty of experience with sound, lighting, and stage equipment, and should also be aware of issues like maintenance, safety concerns, and stage carpentry.

To prepare for a job as a technical director, a student should be involved with the backstage work associated with plays and other productions. He or she should also take classes in communications, management, and technical issues – such as lighting and sound equipment. As technical directors are often in charge of large crews of workers, they should also develop people management skills through experience and/or training.

Getting the Job

Typically, a technical director will be hired based on experience, and it is not uncommon for a director to be promoted from within a particular theater or company’s technical staff. Jobs in this area may be competitive, however, as many technical staff could compete for a limited number of director’s jobs.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

This field, as with many other theater-related jobs, is expected to grow at about an average rate in the next few years. For those who are well-prepared, the job outlook is average, though jobs will be somewhat competitive. However, those with degrees or extra years of experience will be more likely to be hired.

Often, a technical director sticks with this position for his or her entire career in the theater. However, those who wish can advance to higher level management positions. The positions that are available for advancement depend on the size of the theater, with larger theaters having more potential jobs in the technical area.

Working Conditions and Environment

A technical director’s job can be more or less administrative, depending mostly on the size of the facility for which he or she works. Directors in larger facilities are likely to have enough staff to do most of the hands-on work, and they will mainly plan and facilitate technical work. However, in many smaller operations, the technical director’s job is very hands-on, and the position involves hands-on maintenance and design work.

Because the technical director must be present for most rehearsals and performances, the hours for this job can be long and odd. Also, in many companies, the technical director must work under pressure to ensure everything is ready for shows, and this job often involves working without much supervision.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a technical director is about $49,000 per year. The middle bracket of the field earns between $45,470 and $111,720 per year, with those working in television and movie industries making more than those working in theaters, for the most part. Technical directors sometimes get benefits, depending on where they work, and they may also get paid vacation.

Where to Go for More Information
To find more information on technical director positions, check out the following resources:

American Association of Community Theaters
1300 Gendy St.
Ft. Worth, TX 76107
(817) 732-3177

Association for Theatre in Higher Education
PO Box 1290
Boulder, CO 80306
(888) 284-3737

Directors’ Guild of America
7920 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(310) 289-2000

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