I somewhat disagree with that statement. I have worked with many TD's that don't know what a free body diagram is, what what PLF stands for, or anything involving structures at all. Also, as far as the technical design side of things, grad school really helps with that. Being able to build something is one thing, knowing that you can put a 400 lb load anywhere on a platform and KNOWING that there is now way that platform is coming down without doing the "jumping" test is another. Grad school (should) polish your skills from undergrad and other professional experience that you have.I think in one of your other posts you mentioned being in college. What year are you? What degree are you pursuing now? We've been talking about creating some sort of begging theater technician certification program at our community college or about setting up a tech theater transfer degree to a 4 year university that would cover all the prerequisites. So I've been talking with a lot of professionals about their education and how they got the job they have. The first thing you need to know is that there are a lot of the T.D.'s out there who don't have a graduate degree or their MFA is in something like set design or scenic construction. Be very clear you don't need a T.D. degree to become a T.D. In some ways the T.D. degree might even make it harder to get a job. The T.D.'s at the two biggest theaters in my city both don't have MFA's (One has a B.A. for scenic carpentry... I don't know about the other).
Often the path to becoming a T.D. is working your way up through the shop. You're going to have a hard time getting a job straight out of college with a T.D. MFA because of your little experience. A better way to go might be getting your MFA in a design on construction area and taking a few extra classes about theater operation and business management in your "spare time". That way you can go get yourself a job in a shop or designing shows. Make connections, and work your way up. I think you might find it a lot easier in the long run. Remember that there are a lot of guys out there with no degree at all who have been running the shop for 20 years and when the T.D. leaves, they get promoted from within and you won't have a shot at that position.
Don't underestimate how important it is to just work as much as possible, get to know people, and prove yourself to others. Getting a job in theater is all about who you know and how hard you work. I'm all for education but at some point the grad school degree becomes meaningless compared to a person who has years of work experience. If you pursue a degree that will get you hired in a scene shop right away, you have your foot in the door and in time can become the person who has both the degree and the years of experience... and that job will be yours.
Here's a quote from a prop shop manager at one of the largest theaters on the West Coast for you to ponder: "Well if you want to be a T.D. you don't want to waste your time getting an MFA. You need to get out there and work right now." Again, I work for a college and I definitely believe in the importance of education. However, at the same time you have to carefully evaluate the trade off of the extra education vs. just getting out there and working because for every T.D. with an MFA I bet you will find two that don't have one.
If you want to go into lighting get your MFA in lighting design, if you want to be an electrician/board monkey, go hit the road/get into a shop. It's going to be tough to get and MA or an MFA in technical direction or anything theatre related without having an undergrad degree in it, doable, but not easy.At this point I want my masters, I am a senior and my undergrad has nothing to do with theatre and won't get me where I want it too, as for experience I have that and I know thats best, I've been working on the stage since I was 13 and my schools been highering professionals for our shows and I always get to work with them directly, but I feel that I want the masters.
One of the things I enjoy about TDing is that it encomposses so much I don't have to choose lights or set I can do a bit of both, I would probably choose to be more proficient in scenic or lighting design once I get to that point, I still have a year (I am a Dec grad) so I still have some time but I like knowing what other people are thinking.
Thank you everyone for the help!
If you want to go into lighting get your MFA in lighting design, if you want to be an electrician/board monkey, go hit the road/get into a shop. It's going to be tough to get and MA or an MFA in technical direction or anything theatre related without having an undergrad degree in it, doable, but not easy.