Technical directors can be found in multiple industries such as theater, radio, and -- most commonly -- television and film. They essentially oversee all of the technical processes and needs of any production. Common responsibilities of the job include testing, maintaining and operating equipment, editing videos and other media, supervising and training film and lighting staff, and consulting with other production staff members. The salaries that technical directors can receive vary greatly due to a wide range of factors.
Average Salary Estimates
Match College completed a salary survey in 2008 and found that the average annual salary for technical directors in the U.S. was around $56,652 a year, or $27.24 an hour. This was based on an estimated 67,110 technical directors working at that time. The salaries ranged from less than $13.33 an hour in the bottom 10th percentile to more than $42.29 an hour in the top 90th percentile. Most technical directors fell into the middle 50th percentile, earning between $17.05 and $32.81 an hour.
Salaries by Location
A report by Salary Expert surveying radio and television technical directors showed a wide range in wages based on location. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona, the average reported salary was only $39,106 a year. Orlando, Florida, also reported a lower-than-average wage of $49,685 a year for technical directors. In areas better known for television and film production, salaries were significantly higher. In the Manhattan area of New York, technical directors made $104,566 a year on average. However, the highest-paying place in the report was Los Angeles, California, where technical directors made $119,869 a year on average.
Lighting Technical Directors
Some technical directors specialize in lighting rather than film and pictures. According to a survey by Salary List, lighting technical directors made $96,008 a year on average. The lowest salary in the report was $45,760 a year at Rhythm and Hues in Los Angeles in 2007. The highest was $135,200 a year, paid to the lighting technical director for Uncharted Territory in Los Angeles in 2009.
Some technical directors may be able to develop their careers with no formal education but many years of hands-on experience and personal networking. However, those with educational credentials will be highly competitive, particularly when starting out. Common areas of study that lead to positions as technical directors include drama, theater production, stage management and radio-television-film (RTVF). Generally, technical directors need a thorough knowledge and understanding of computers, lighting and film equipment, editing software, and techniques used in the industry for audio, video, and lighting production.