Touring Stage Crew

 12 July 2012

Touring stage crew, sometimes known as stage hands or roadies, provide services for live events, either on tour or at festivals and other events.

Work for touring stage crew varies according to the size of the event.
Work for touring stage crew varies according to the size of the event.

What is the job like?

Touring stage crew are part of the backstage team, and the work can vary according to the scale of the event. Large-scale events may employ touring stage crew who specialise in different areas.

The work can involve:

  • Driving vans, lorries and crew buses
  • Transporting all the equipment needed for the event, and making use of specialist lifting equipment such as fork lift trucks
  • Working as part of a wider team to set up all the equipment and cabling for events, which can include lighting, sound systems, computers, instruments, microphones, video equipment and screens
  • Ensuring the safety and security of all equipment, during transportation and at the venue
  • Setting up pyrotechnic (firework) displays and laser shows
  • Paying close attention to health and safety issues.

Some touring stage crew may also be involved in the tuning and maintenance of musical instruments.

Touring stage crew often travel around the UK or overseas whilst on tour. The working hours are long and irregular, and include working into the late evening or night and at weekends. 

How do I become a roadie?

The minimum age for touring stage crew is 18. The work is very physically demanding, and so you will need to be very healthy and fit. You will also need good communication skills to work with a wide range of different people at all levels.

If you have relevant skills, training and experience in one or more aspects of live events then it is much easier to move into touring stage crew work work. Most production companies prefer to take people with previous experience in one aspect of events production before employing them as touring stage crew. Some people enter this work after working as a security officer.

Try to get involved with live event production, either at school or in your local community. You could help with setting up lighting or sound systems, or just generally offer your services as a runner. 

Relevant work experience would be a useful addition to your CV. Live events companies are often unwilling to take under 18s, but you could try approaching an equipment hire company as they are sometimes more flexible in this respect.

What training and qualifications do I need?

Look at the creative employment website for opportunities in the technical theatre and live events.  

Academic entry qualifications for apprenticeships can vary, although most employers look for a good standard of English and maths at GCSE level as a minimum, often at grade C or above. GCSE (A-C) science is normally required for technical apprenticeships.

A full driving licence may be needed. If you drive a lorry you will need a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence. If you plan to drive the crew in a tour bus you will need a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licence. A licence is essential for anyone using a fork lift truck.

Touring stage crew don’t necessarily need lots of academic qualifications and may start out by learning the job alongside more experienced crew. There are lots of short courses which are helpful, in a range of subjects including rigging, health and safety, lighting installation, working at heights, operating lifting equipment and pyrotechnics.

If you plan to go to college or university then courses that include technical theatre, sound, lighting and music technology could be an advantage. You would still need to gain practical experience before finding work as touring stage crew.

What can I earn?

Touring stage crew are often recruited on a freelance basis. This means you work on short-term contracts and you may need to take other work between contracts.

A junior might be employed at the minimum wage and you might earn £150 a day with more experience. This could rise to around £250 day for those with additional skills and experience, and some experienced touring stage crew earn considerably more than this.

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