Public Relations and Marketing | Published May 25, 2023
Getting into the live entertainment business is easier than ever as College of Lake County (CLC) begins its new live entertainment production program. This fall, start a career helping build and set up equipment and scenery for events like concerts and theatre productions.
Last year, CLC received a $10,000 grant from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) to create the program. A combination of workers aging out of the profession and job loss during the pandemic has created a need for skilled workers.
“Vocational training for these positions never existed in the past,” said Dean of Communication Arts, Humanities and Fine Arts Sheldon Walcher. “Because of this, people spend many years getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees to do these jobs because the industry never really had a way to quickly train professional technicians.”
The new certificate requires 10 courses and an internship. Students can complete it and start their career in a year.
Students receive entry-level training in scenery fabrication, rigging, audio, entertainment lighting and electrical work, video and wardrobe and live event management. They also learn how to find and procure work in the entertainment gig economy.
Work-based learning is built into the curriculum. Students are required to work an internship and have multiple opportunities at nearby hot spots, including at Upstaging Inc., a company and program partner in Sycamore and other partners in the Chicago area. For students who need to stay closer to home, they can also intern with CLC’s theatre department.
Upstaging participated in the research phase with CLC and helped offer guidance on making the training relevant to the current industry. CLC then created a curriculum that prepares students to work with high-profile touring productions like WWE’s Wrestlemania, Coldplay and Kendrick Lamar. Tour technicians set up stages and lighting, and even do sound production.
“It can be hard to describe what you need to know for these careers. There are so many different elements,” said Upstaging co-founder Robin Shaw. “Working with CLC has been great and really helped us identify some key skills students need in order to be successful in such a diverse industry.”
Students will be introduced to different career opportunities available in the field. The program is designed to give students a little bit of everything so that when they do enter the field, they have a foundation to do what interests them.
“There are lots of lab classes for students to get experience and learn to use the equipment before getting a job instead of learning on the job, which is how the industry has always worked,” said Theatre Instructor Tracie Folger. “There aren’t a lot of affordable and accessible training programs in the country that allow students to practice with the equipment before getting into the world.”
The jobs pay well, Walcher said, with positions paying up to $60,000.
Careers in live entertainment production are great for those who enjoy traveling and working with their hands.
As a career and technical education program, students are eligible for Perkins grant and Metallica scholarship funds.
Classes for live entertainment production begin this fall. Registration is available now for fall courses. To register, visit www.clcillinois.edu/fall
About College of Lake County
College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.