Stagehands are vital behind-the-scenes professionals who go unseen and unrecognised unless anything goes wrong. They create, repair, move, and store sets to ensure a smooth performance on stage as well as in films, advertisements, and television shows.
Similar Job Titles
- Stage Technician
- Stage Crew
- Stage Worker
- Crew Member
- Theatrical Technician
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Stagehands do?
A Stagehand would typically need to:
- Assist in preparing the stage or set for performance in the theatre, at concerts, and in TV and film studios.
- Load and unload equipment; erect and deconstruct stages and sets; construct and dismantle platforms; and erect scaffolding and lighting rigs.
- Assist in the installation of lighting and sound equipment, special effects devices, and mechanical or moving elements required for the production.
- Set painting, prop construction and repair, sound and lighting equipment operation, and other tasks as given by the production manager or director
- Attend rehearsals to determine the necessary scene modifications in preparation for actual performances; assist performers through outfit changes.
- During set/scene changes, transport props, scenery, furniture, and heavy equipment to and from storage locations and rehearsal spaces.
- Confirm that all construction activities are carried out in strict conformity with standard safety requirements in order to ensure the safety of all artists and audience members.
- During performances, keep an eye on the stage in case of an emergency, such as an equipment breakdown.
- Ensure that all equipment is properly kept after usage. do monthly maintenance inspections to ensure that it is in good operating order
- If working in a theatre, open and close curtains between acts and clean up after a play or performance.
- Drive and tow vehicles through busy film or television studios or on location; employ specialised set-piece moving and lifting equipment.
Standard Work Environment
Stagehands may work indoors or outdoors in a variety of settings, performing physical activities such as lifting and transporting heavy and delicate materials. Union members must follow union regulations and work within established limitations.
The working environment might vary from hot and dusty to chilly and frigid. International and touring productions would necessitate travel and extended periods away from home.
Stagehands in the theatre frequently work long hours, especially evenings and weekends, when the majority of performances take place; they may be required to remain on call and report for duty immediately. Their work shifts change depending on whether they are doing daytime rehearsals, matinée shows, or nighttime performances.
Although TV and film stagehands work more than 40 hours per week and may be required to work overtime, the majority of their time may be spent working during the day.
Finding a new job might be difficult. Stagehands can improve their job search by soliciting referrals from their network, contacting firms directly, using job search platforms, attending job fairs, leveraging social media, and contacting staffing agencies.
Stagehands are generally employed by:
- Concert Halls
- Convention Centres
- Film & Television Studios
- Touring Companies
- Corporate Production Studios
- Music & Video Production Studios
- Music Companies
- Cable Television Companies
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional associations and organisations, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), are essential for Stagehands who want to advance their careers or interact with other professionals in their industry or sector.
Professional associations offer members chances for ongoing education, networking, and mentorship. Membership in one or more of these organisations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
Stagehands who are members of legitimate unions are preferred by many theatres, television stations, and film studios. Union members may have better pay and working conditions, but they need assistance with freelancing and finding their next job.
- Physically demanding labour that, if not accompanied by sufficient training and safety regulations, can result in catastrophic accidents and injuries, forced leave from work, and eventual loss of revenue.
- Long and unpredictable work schedules, with on-call as a normal element, have a negative impact on work-life balance.
- Tight deadlines necessitate a level head and attention to detail in the face of chaos and stress.
- Workplaces that are cramped and possibly uncomfortable, such as backstage sections and small storage rooms
- Production errors and delays as a result of language hurdles and a lack of efficient communication
- If engaged at a theatre, availability of work is reliant on governmental and private funding of theatres, as well as the number of local productions during the season.
- Employment opportunities that need you to live in specific cities and be geographically movable.
- If you are a freelancer competing with many others for a profitable contract, you will have an uncertain source of income and job security.
Suggested Work Experience
Aspiring Stagehands will benefit from extracurricular activities that complement classroom lessons. Many anecdotes can be heard and significant hands-on experience can be gained from more experienced individuals who can turn seemingly ordinary occurrences into unique learning opportunities.
Amateur plays and small theatres that use casual backstage assistance provide important work experience to anyone with a demonstrated passion for drama, dance, and music. Successful candidates begin to study the ins and outs of the craft while obtaining a sense of the hard labour, long hours, and dedication required by the field.
More than an academic background, experience would enable Stagehands to achieve skill in putting up the stage before a live show, positioning props, and efficiently operating light and sound equipment.
Cold phone or send your resume to low-budget filmmakers and amateur drama companies in your area that might be interested in hiring recent graduates and providing them with invaluable film or theatrical experience.
Short-term paid/volunteer work at art festivals and concerts provides a taste of the work, assists in the development of valuable contacts, and improves one’s chances of landing a permanent career. You might strike gold with huge theatre and production firms that like to use freelancers for a few weeks or months.
Internships at summer stock and community theatres may be available during the season. Trade unions are also a great source of highly sought-after apprenticeships, which can lead to union jobs in theatres, television, and film studios.
Any educational programmes or learning experiences relating to technical theatre and work-building crafts such as joinery, metals, painting, and decoration will help you stand out as a potential Stagehand.
Although villages and rural locations contain theatres and music venues, metropolitan cities provide the largest chances for Stagehands. Other choices include travelling musicians and companies that hire freelance stage crews.
Even if you are still in high school, you can talk to a teacher or a counsellor about relevant job-based learning options in your school or community that can help you connect your educational experiences with real-life work.
School plays, film productions, and community playhouse performances provide several possibilities to learn about the stage equipment and how to repair it in an emergency, all while learning about yourself and being guided towards a future vocation.
To demonstrate your devotion to course providers and future employers, read about the profession and interview/shadow experienced Stagehands.
If you can demonstrate your competence to do the necessary activities, a high school diploma or GED (General Education Development) may enough to secure a position as a Stagehand.
Employers, on the other hand, are increasingly looking for applicants who have finished college or trade school programmes in theatre or performing arts, which teach the fundamentals of acting, directing, scripting, and stagecraft.
A bachelor’s or associate degree should suffice in most cases. Certificates, diplomas, and foundation degrees in performing arts, production arts, technical theatre, creative and media, and stage management are all viable options.
Check with individual institutions for particular entrance criteria. Some may relax the restrictions for applicants with relevant skills and experience.
Mathematics, theatre, media, woodwork, or shop class are all recommended college-prepared subjects in high school. English and speaking lessons will help you improve your research, writing, and oral communication skills.
Remember that finishing a certain academic course does not guarantee admittance into the profession. Regardless, your professional qualifications and transferable talents may open more than one door.
Before enrolling in a specific programme, do your homework and investigate all available possibilities for education and career. Associations and employers in your field are reliable sources that can help you make an informed selection.
Certifications, Licenses and Registration
A Stagehand’s expertise in a skill set is demonstrated through job experience, training, and passing a test. By including a Code of Ethics, successful certification programmes defend the public welfare.
While certifications that provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to work with certain equipment are optional, they may help you land coveted projects. Some countries provide particular certification programmes for stage technicians in the entertainment business, which might help you stand out as a candidate.
Accredited organisations in your area may also provide valuable certifications in safety procedures, rigging and hoisting, electrical safety training, scaffolding, and aerial lifting.
Recognised qualifications in areas such as fire prevention and protection, fall protection, hazard communication, health regulations, first aid and CPR, and lockout procedures would be equally valuable.
Certification from a reputable and objective organisation can help you stand out in a competitive employment market, carry a large wage premium of up to 18%, boost your prospects of progression, and help you become an independent consultant.
Stagehands may also be required to go through an employment background check, which includes information such as a person’s job history, schooling, credit history, motor vehicle records (MVRs), criminal record, medical history, usage of social media, and drug testing.
Projected Career Map
A position as a Stagehand can be the start of a long and successful career in the entertainment industry. The majority of incumbents enter the profession as part-time, temporary, on-call, or freelance workers at the whim of various employers. Employment opportunities are stronger in video production for the music industry, cable television, or corporate production studios.
Finding a full-time permanent work with a single employer is the simplest way to enhance your career. Following that, some may go on to become Production Managers, Stagehand Supervisors, Technical Stage Managers, or Technical Directors, while others may choose to create their own Stagehand firm after gaining sufficient expertise, contacts, and cash.
Some experienced Stagehands may choose to specialise as Electricians, Carpenters, Production Assistants, or Scenic Designers due to a strong interest in one component of behind-the-scenes production.
Established professionals can go from touring companies and smaller venues to metropolitan theatres or larger production companies. You can also use your expertise and skills to train for jobs like Lighting Technicians or Sound Technicians.
A growing number of millennials are opting to job hop and build a scattershot resume that demonstrates ambition, enthusiasm, and a willingness to master a wide range of skills in order to expedite their career progress and personal development.
Studies show that job hopping, which was formerly considered as “flaky” activity, might lead to increased work satisfaction. Employees seeking a great culture and exciting work are prepared to try out different roles and workplaces in order to develop valuable and transferable skills.
Stagehands who have a real interest in theatre, film, or television, as well as enough education and experience in stagecraft, acting, and directing, and the necessary physical strength and stamina, have the best work prospects.
Beneficial Professional Development
Continuing professional development (CPD) will assist an active Stagehand in developing personal skills and proficiency through work-based learning, professional activity, and formal education.
Whether conventional schooling or self-directed learning is preferred. It also allows for the routine renewal of coveted certifications.
New hires typically receive a month of on-the-job training on safety measures, correct equipment use, and set/stage setup and breakdown.
Technical stage managers handle training in a theatre setting, whilst supervising stagehands handle it in film and television production firms.
Furthermore, your local theatre technicians or stage management association may provide a variety of short courses in all technical areas as well as industry-related health and safety issues that are necessary for your continued professional progress.
Vocational schools and two-year colleges provide courses that cover a large percentage of the required advanced electrical work, carpentry, and photography skills. Nowadays, formal education in technical fields is expected to aid in working with computerised equipment in video production.
Forward-thinking Stagehands may also benefit from industry-approved continuing education courses in 35mm film craft skills, such as set construction and lighting/effects.
The majority of opportunities in theatre are dependent on public and private funding, as well as the number of shows per season. Invest time and effort in developing industry contacts and networking that can lead to the next job through timely and authentic employment possibilities and word-of-mouth referrals.
Physical stamina and endurance are essential since Stagehands cannot perform the heavy lifting and carrying that makes up the majority of their job.
Employers frequently value soft skills like communication ability, computer proficiency, and physical dexterity in Stagehands.
It takes a strong work ethic and a genuine interest in the performing arts to devote energy and time to being a skilled Stagehand, ready to do whatever it takes to assist produce a spectacle that dazzles the audience.
Advice from the Wise
“All the world’s a stage.”