Lighting Designer

Job Description:

A Lighting Designer plans and designs the lighting systems for various settings, including theatrical productions, architectural spaces, concerts, and events, to create specific atmospheres and effects.

Job Category:
Retail & Consumer

What you will do:

As a lighting designer, you will be:

  • Creating lighting plans and concepts to meet the artistic, functional, and safety requirements of a project
  • Choosing appropriate lighting fixtures, bulbs, and equipment based on the project’s needs and budget
  • Collaborating with architects, interior designers, directors, and clients to integrate lighting seamlessly into a design
  • Developing detailed lighting layouts and plots, specifying the positioning and angles of fixtures
  • Setting up and programming lighting control systems, including dimmers, consoles, and automation
  • Designing lighting effects to evoke moods, enhance aesthetics, and support the overall vision of a production or space
  • Ensuring efficient use of energy and sustainable lighting solutions when possible
  • Staying up-to-date with lighting technology and understanding electrical systems and regulations
  • Managing the budget for lighting equipment and labor costs
  • Overseeing the installation of lighting equipment, conducting tests, and fine-tuning the lighting design
  • Monitoring and maintaining lighting systems to ensure proper functioning
  • Prioritising safety by adhering to electrical and safety codes and conducting risk assessments
  • Preparing documentation, including lighting plots, cue sheets, and technical drawings
  • Providing training to operators and technicians responsible for executing the lighting design
  • Adapting designs to different settings, such as theaters, concert venues, architectural spaces, or outdoor events
  • Addressing technical challenges and troubleshooting lighting issues during productions
  • Collaborating with directors, set designers, and costume designers to ensure cohesive visual storytelling


You will need:

  • an understanding of lighting principles and technology
  • familiarity with design and lighting software
  • knowledge of building codes and safety standards
  • in-depth knowledge in lighting design, architecture, or related fields
  • basic understanding of electrical systems

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a lighting designer, the specific GCSE subjects you need may not be rigidly defined, but it’s advisable to choose subjects that can provide a strong foundation for your future education and career in design. Consider the following subjects:

  1. Art and Design: This subject can help you develop your creative and artistic skills, which are essential for lighting design.
  2. Physics: A basic understanding of physics, particularly topics related to light, optics, and electricity, can be beneficial for understanding the technical aspects of lighting.
  3. Mathematics: Math is important for calculations related to lighting, especially when dealing with electrical systems and measurements.
  4. Design and Technology: This subject can provide insights into design processes and technical skills that may be applicable to lighting design.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computers and software is valuable for modern lighting design, which often involves computer-aided design (CAD) software.
  6. English: Strong communication skills are crucial in the design field, so a good grasp of English can be beneficial.

While these subjects can provide a solid foundation, keep in mind that lighting design is a multidisciplinary field, and your education and skills can come from a variety of sources. After GCSEs, you would typically pursue a relevant higher education degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in lighting design, architecture, interior design, or a related field, which will provide specialised training for your career in lighting design.

To become a lighting designer, you’ll need a combination of qualifications, skills, and practical experience. Here are the key requirements:


Typically, a bachelor’s degree in a related field is required. Common degrees include lighting design, theater design, interior design, architecture, or electrical engineering. Your choice of degree should align with your specific area of interest within lighting design.


Practical experience is crucial. Look for internships or entry-level positions in lighting design firms, architectural firms, or theater production companies to gain hands-on experience.


Build a portfolio showcasing your lighting design projects, technical drawings, and sketches. Your portfolio is your calling card and can be critical in securing jobs or freelance contracts.


While not always mandatory, some lighting designers choose to earn professional certifications like the Certified Lighting Designer (CLD) designation to enhance their credentials.


Depending on your location and the nature of your work (especially if it involves electrical systems), you may need to obtain specific licenses or certifications related to electrical design and safety.

Working Hours and Environment:

Lighting designers typically work regular office hours, but project-based demands can require flexible hours, including evenings and weekends. They split their time between office work (designing, communication) and on-site visits (installations, site assessments), often collaborating with architects and engineers. The specifics can vary based on the type of lighting design and projects they are involved in.

Career Path & Progression:

A typical lighting designer’s career path involves getting a relevant degree, starting as an assistant, progressing to a designer, and potentially specialising in areas like architecture or theater lighting. Some pursue certifications and move into project management roles. Building a professional network is essential, and some become freelancers or start their own firms for more control. Continuous learning and mentorship are key for career growth.