Is being a certified rigger a good job route?

DJHiggumz

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I am a Junior in high school and I currently work as a mobile dj. I have a pretty nice setup for my age as I have accumulated 4 roboscan 812s, CX2's Led par 64's and r and g lasers. just recently I ran a production for a DJ at a club (doesn't have a system) and I realized I enjoy being the sound and lighting technician more than I like being a DJ. Just last night I went to a rave for the first time, and after seeing the light show it really had me thinking about continuing as a production company. with that said there would be a necessity to fly systems which requires a certified rigger.

I looked online and i read about a course that takes a week and $2,000 to get certified. for just running my own business that is a good investment, but I was wondering if there is a demand for certified riggers. could I take that as a career path, contracting for lighting companies or events? Installations? would it be a sufficient salary? >$40,000? I live in mid-west Wisconsin, but It is possible to move to Chicago or Milwaukee.

recap of questions
1. Is there a demand for certified riggers?
2. What is an average salary?
 

len

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$40K is scraping by in Chicago. In a crappy apartment in the suburbs. Living in the city is more expensive.

But you've thought about 2 - 3 career changes in how many months? You're not the only one who's ever been undecided about a career, but don't rush into it. You have plenty of time to figure things out.
 

DuckJordan

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There's a huge demand for riggers but its a lot more work than just knowledge. Remember most riggers will be hauling 75 foot of chain up to the rafters of a building with little to no help. You also need to know proper use of fall arrest equipment and know quite a bit of calc. I don't think 2 weeks and 2 grand will get you to a point where id hire you on as a head digger but I know at our venue is pair you with one of ours and get you up to speed.

Salary depends on how many gigs you do. I know some guys that make 80k a year which seams about mid range. But be prepaired to travel. I also know guys that bring in 6 figures. But theyve been around awhile.
 

DJHiggumz

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you've thought about 2 - 3 career changes in how many months? You're not the only one who's ever been undecided about a career, but don't rush into it. You have plenty of time to figure things out.
I don't see where you get this? I've always thought about working in the sound industry.

@DuckJordan where would I get the knowledge? the only college I know of is mcnally of minnesota. and the job shadow type thing you mentioned would be a good move too
 

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A straight up rigger "local" can usually expect to make about 25 an hour and up. Depending on the market, you can be working every day or just a few days a month. To really make a career of it you need to get a job at a shop such as Showrig or some other production shop.

That being said... there are only so many jobs out there that really pay. The guys on the top started by hauling baskets with their local unions. In order to do that, they had to downrig for a good amount of time. There are no schools that I know of that teach arena rigging like you want to do. "On the job" training is the name of the game.

That then opens up the other issue. The only "certification" we have in the industry is ETCP. To get your ETCP cert, you need 3,000 hours of actual real world experience. With the pace of work in this industry, it can take years to get your hours in order to even take the test. There are not to many ETCP arena riggers out there that are under 30 for this exact reason. It is something you can make good money at, but your not going to do it by 22. Instead, you work when you can and fill the rest of the time with other production jobs or theatre rigging.
 

gafftaper

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A week course might... and I stress MIGHT... get your foot in the door somewhere. Most riggers seem to start out working somewhere that has rigging and someone takes a liking to them and trains them hands on. They gradually work their way in. I find it highly unlikely that a course like that will suddenly get you regular work as a rigger.

Riggers are all about safety and expertise to an amazing level. They know their lives (and those of all those around them) depend on knowing that everyone on the team is a true expert. If someone makes the smallest mistake rigging, many people can die. So, it's a VERY small and VERY difficult fraternity to break into because you generally have to prove yourself to someone in order to get a chance to get in. It's one of the most extreme examples I know of "We only hire people with experience... and the way to get that experience is to be hired."
 
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len

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I currently work as a mobile dj.
That's one.

I realized I enjoy being the sound and lighting technician more than I like being a DJ./
That's two.

thinking about continuing as a production company.
That's three.

I was wondering if there is a demand for certified riggers. could I take that as a career path
That's four.

My point is that you're only in high school, so it's natural to want to look at a lot of different things. If you want to give this industry a shot, move to Milwaukee and get a summer internship with Clear Wing, or move to Chicago and get an internship with Upstaging, ILC, TLC, Sound Investment, or any of the other companies here (except mine. The insurance on interns is too high). You'll do a lot of **** work, but you'll see what the day-to-day is before you drop $2K on something you may not even like.
 

DuckJordan

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Like everyone said, a rigging class may get you a connection. I got my connection working at my local theater and showing that I can make decisions, work well in a team environment, and took every chance i got to help out the down rigger. That included being the steel monkey, grabbing him coffee, pushing the motor boxes to their positions and watching him work with the guys up on grid. I had to work my butt off and after a year they put me into the training seminar which is only the first step at our facility. The only way to get in is to show you want to, and work with the guys for a long time. You also have to prove that you will tell people to shut up when it comes to safety. Being a rigger means being that guy to say hell no to that road TD who says the show has to go up and he wants you to use broken steel and a bent shackle.
 

JLNorthGA

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I was pretty much in your shoes many years ago - except that we really didn't have DJs back then. I got a job with a local lighting company as a warehouse grunt. I eventually got to go out on gigs and help with arena and stadium set-ups. I also worked construction. It took a few years to make real money - in other words it was great to have a day job. A single class isn't going to mean much to any of the companies - they want work experience. It also is a physical job. There is a lot of grunt, heave and carry. Can you lift 75-100 lbs? Repeatedly?

If you really want to do it - go for it - but it will take years. A week long class for $2000 may not even get you in the door.

My best move was quitting and going to college. Consider that as an option.
 

gafftaper

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Take a look at some of the Education forum FAQ's. At your age, we generally advise you to get as much general education as you can afford and wait as long as possible before choosing a specialty. A couple years of general theater tech in college is likely to radically redirect you in one direction or another. At the same time keep working anywhere you can.

While it's fantastic that someone your age has the gear you have and is doing the things you are doing, that simply doesn't mean that Upstaging is going to hire you and send you out on tour with a multi-million dollar rig at the age of 20. It's just not going to happen. You aren't going anywhere until you've spent years learning their system and proving to them they can trust you with millions of dollars in gear. There are very few short cuts in this industry and people who do take them are often shunned. Keep up your business it's building experience and connections but get a good general education too. Do your best to experience as many different aspects of education as you can. Hang out here. Learn as much as you can.

You need to focus a bit on one area. Time working along with education will help you do that.
 
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MPowers

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Certification, in and of itself, is not a job or a guarantee of a job. It is only a basic qualification to perform a job. It is one part of what it take to be a practicing, working rigger. Rigging involves a wide range of disciplines from actual high rigging in an arena to being the person who engineers the steel that the high riggers walk on. It includes the team who install the counterweight rigging you use on a stage and the crew that replaces the worn out tail stock bearings on a package hoist.

As Bill mentioned, you have to have a specific, minimum, documented amount of experience as a rigger before you are allowed to take the certification exam. After taking and passing the exam, you must then continue to document your experience and take additional classroom training to maintain and renew the certification.

The point is, being certified, as a rigger or electrician or welder or chain hoist mechanic or........... is not a job route as an isolated thing. It is only one part of what will make you a qualified, sought after, entertainment professional.

Is certification necessary? It is becoming more common for architects, consultants and event centers to to require at least the lead rigger/supervisor be ETCP certified, but as yet it is not a universal requirement. If your experience and job requirements on a regular basis indicate a need for certification, by all means get it. I hope that before I retire, certification will be the norm rather than the exception.
 

gafftaper

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Do you mean ETCP certified rigger? It takes a lot more than a class to become ETCP certified, namely documented experience.
I believe the certification the OP is asking about is one that comes with this week long $2k class.
 

BillConnerFASTC

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I believe the certification the OP is asking about is one that comes with this week long $2k class.
That would make that "graduate" a certificate holder or certificated, not certified. Certificated means you hold a certificate. I have many. Certified implies training, experience, and testing. I'm a certified ETCP Rigger - Theatre. Some would say i'm certifiable, but neither they nor I can prove that. Google "certificated vs certified". From one such entry:

In use, however, certificated seems to belong to the educational sphere, while certified is the word used to describe standards and qualifications in other occupations and industries. Until recently, I’ve thought of certificated as chiefly British usage, but the term occurs very frequently now in the U.S. educational context. Certified derives from the verb to certify; certificated from the noun certificate. The verb entered the language before the noun. First came certify to describe the act of making certain. Then came certificate for the document that attested to the certainty.
 

josh88

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Sounds like Rigstar to me.
RIGSTAR Rigging School
Thats what I was thinking too. It's worth noting that they have 3 levels of "certification" now, the newest addition being geared (in their words) to people wanting to do rigging for a tour. It's a 200 hour course over 4 weeks.

But yeah their Certs are just cards that say they've passed one of the levels and the hours they logged doing it. Though the back of the card has typos and doesn't make me feel like I'd take the chance and trust the person holding it.
StevenKendall-SB.jpg
NewCertCardFront.jpg
 

LavaASU

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Rigstar sure takes themselves seriously. I have no idea the quality of their training, but I'd be a bit dubious of someone waving their card around.
 

cmckeeman

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i know some guys that have done rigstar and while they both had previous training and made sure to stay on top of it afterwards, but i hear you do get a CM tech cert from the program.