How to become a technical theatre apprentice: Hosanna's story

Meet Hosanna: she's 18 and grew up in London and Cambridge. Find out about her job as a technical theatre apprentice at the Royal Opera House in London. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"I’m always learning something new and doing something different."

What does a technical theatre apprentice do?

I'm currently working in the stage electrics (or stage lighting) team at the Royal Opera House.

I set up the different stage lights for every live performance. The lights are held in groups called rigs so I bring the rigs down and change the colours and make sure everything is where it should be.

Can you describe a typical day?

The structure of my apprenticeship means I work with different teams for weeks at a time so I'm getting a good understanding of the variety of jobs that happen behind the scenes.

What do you love most about your job?

Every day is different! Because I’m never just in one department, I’m always learning something new. It wouldn't be for everyone, but it really suits me.

Hosanna changes the lights, sounds, and sets most days for different shows.

What route did you take to get your apprenticeship?

I chose Performing Arts, Art and History for my options at GCSE. At college, I studied two BTEC Level 3 courses in Performing Arts and Production Arts.

I didn't know what job I wanted to do but I loved acting and being on stage. I also loved learning about production in my BTEC course and it made it difficult to decide what I wanted to do after college.

I actually applied to some drama schools but after I didn't get in, it made me think about what I really wanted to do and what I enjoyed. A few weeks later, I was at home going through my emails and saw the Royal Opera House apprenticeship schemes being advertised in a newsletter. I knew straight away I wanted to apply.

Top tips

  • Juggling college work and apprenticeship applications can be tricky. I asked for support from a friend who had been through a similar situation and she mentored me through and gave me some great advice
  • It's okay if you don't know what to do
  • Moving from college into an apprenticeship is a big change but if you're sure it's right for you, stick with it – you'll learn so much.

What to expect if you want to be a technical theatre apprentice

Hosanna's apprenticeship scheme is giving her experience of working in different teams. This is sometimes referred to as a rotational scheme.

They are common in big organisations and can be a good path for anyone who isn't quite sure where exactly they fit into the industry they would like to work in. For example, if you're interested in finance, you could start a rotational apprenticeship programme where you will spend time in different teams learning about what part of the company you like best.

In Hosanna's specific case at the Royal Opera House, she's learning how to set up for a live performance, which includes lighting, sets and sound.

  • Technical theatre apprentice salary: Living wage in the first year, rising by 2.5% in the second year
  • Technical theatre apprentice working hours: 48 hours per week (including time at college)
  • Typical entry requirements: Royal Opera House apprenticeships are for those who want a hands-on job behind the scenes of a theatre. The apprenticeships are for people who don't already have a university degree. You will study towards a Level 2 and/or Level 3 qualification during your apprenticeship which you will study alongside your job.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, Royal Opera House)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Peter: lighting technician
Starting work as an apprentice
Get into theatre