Two stagehands


Stagehands assist stage technicians setting up and preparing equipment for live performance. Their work includes setting up the scenery, lights, sound, props, rigging, and special effects for a production.

Includes people working in event and rental companies

The duties of a stagehand include, but are not limited to:

  • Setting up and breaking down stages, including building and dismantling platforms, assembling scaffolding and lighting rigs, setting up curtains and sound equipment
  • Making sure that all safety regulations are followed during construction to ensure that no accidents occur during the show
  • Painting sets, constructing props, operating sound and lighting equipment, and other tasks as directed by the production manager or director
  • Installing and removing stage rigging systems, including lighting and sound equipment, speakers, curtains, special effects devices, and other equipment required for a performance
  • Preparing and maintaining a work area for performers, including arranging furniture, props, and other items needed for a performance
  • Moving props, scenery, and equipment to and from storage areas and rehearsal spaces during set changes
  • Dressing rehearsal rooms with props and lighting equipment for rehearsals and performances
  • Standing by on the stage during performances in case of emergencies such as equipment failure
  • Following safety protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of all performers and audience members during performances

Working conditions

Stagehands are responsible for the set-up, maintenance, and breakdown of all stage equipment and scenery for theatrical productions, concerts, conventions, and other events. They typically work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and often have to be on call to work at a moment’s notice. The work can be physically demanding, as stagehands often have to lift and move heavy equipment and materials. They also have to be able to work quickly and efficiently under pressure, as time is often limited to get everything set up before the event begins.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to stagehand:

loader & stage hand
stage assistant
loader and stage hand
assistant stage technician
stagehand & loader
loader & stagehand
stagehand and loader
stage hand & loader
stage hand and loader
stage hand
theatre assistant
assistant theater technician
theater assistant
assistant technician
loader and stagehand
assistant theatre technician

Minimum qualifications

Most stagehand positions require only a high school diploma. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed some college or trade school courses.

Those who want to work in a specific industry may consider earning a degree in theater or performing arts. These programs typically take two years to complete and teach students the basics of acting, directing, playwriting, stagecraft and more.

Stagehands typically receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced stagehands.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Stagehand is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Stagehand career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to stagehand.

tent installer
event scaffolder
ground rigger
high rigger
event electrician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of stagehand. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of stagehand with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

followspot operator
scenery technician
stage machinist

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of stagehand.

  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Work safely with machines: Check and safely operate machines and equipment required for your work according to manuals and instructions.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Prevent fire in a performance environment: Take steps to prevent fire in a performance environment. Make sure the space complies with fire safety rules, with sprinklers and fire extinguishers installed where necessary. Make sure staff are aware of fire prevention measures.
  • Assemble the rehearsal set: Put together all prepared scenic elements to prepare the rehearsal set.
  • Assemble scenic elements on stage: Assemble scenic elements, dance and stage floors and stage cloths, based on written documents
  • Work safely with mobile electrical systems under supervision: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution for performance and art facility purposes under supervision.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Dismantle the rehearsal set: Take apart all prepared scenic elements after the rehearsal.
  • Handle scenic elements during rehearsal: Handle and assemble equipment and scenery material during rehearsal or on stage.
  • Modify scenic elements during performance: Change-over of scenic elements during performance, and follow the relevant documentation during performance.
  • Assemble truss constructions: Use trusses, metal structures that derive strength from their construction involving triangular shapes, to construct stages for performances.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of stagehand. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Scaffolding components: The different components of which scaffolding is constructed, their usage cases and limitations. Weight bearing properties of each component and how they are assembled.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of stagehand. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Set up pyrotechnical equipment: Make sure the pyrotechnic equipment for a performance is set up and ready for operation.
  • Perform first fire intervention: Intervene in the case of a fire in order to extinguish the fire or limit the effects pending the arrival of emergency services according to training and procedures.
  • Set up cameras: Put cameras in place and prepare them for use.
  • Assemble performance equipment: Set up sound, light and video equipment on stage before performance event according to specifications.
  • Build scaffolding: Assemble temporary scaffolding structures for construction, maintenance or event-related purposes. Set vertical standards on the base plate of the scaffolding structure. Ensure the scaffolding structure is secured from lateral forces and supported sufficiently. Place wood or metal scaffolding decks into the transoms to stand on and make sure they are aligned. Safely set scaffolding stairs and ladders, which allow enough room for safe and easy manoeuvring.
  • Dismantle scaffolding: Safely dismantle a scaffolding structure according to a plan and in the set order.
  • Set up follow spots: Set up and test follow spots in different types of locations.
  • Inspect scaffolding: After the scaffolding structure has been completed, inspect it for compliance with safety standards, weight bearing properties, tensile strength, resistance to wind, any other outside influences and ergonomics.
  • Store performance equipment: Safely dismantle sound, light and video equipment after a performance event. Make sure the equipment is correctly stored away.

ISCO group and title

7215 – Riggers and cable splicers

  1. Stagehand – ESCO
  2. Stagehand Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: By Masonvanmeurs – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Last updated on September 20, 2022

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