How to Become a Rigger

What is it like to be a rigger?

Rigging for the entertainment industry is a rewarding and exciting career choice. Rigging is a vital part of every production, and can offer a chance to climb around on beams 30m in the air above the arena floor. It usually requires working at height within venues, manual handling, extensive travel and working during antisocial hours.

What’s required?

It can be extremely tough to become a rigger and opportunities are limited. However if you are keen, hard-working and willing to succeed, there are various ways.

A rigger needs:

  • Training – knowledge should be gained through learning and formal courses for example the Three Day Rigging for the Entertainment Industry Course.
  • Experience – practical skills through real-life rigging work must be gained in order to become a competent rigger. We offer an experience scheme called Project X.
  • Qualification – in order to work as a rigger at height, many companies require that you hold the NRC rigging qualification.  Until that point, you will need to work on the ground, or as a trainee under supervision.
  • Contacts – many riggers work on a freelance basis, being a successful rigger relies upon building a good reputation with a variety of contacts.
  • Equipment – Working as a freelance rigger will require different kit requirements depending on where you’re working, and whether you’re working on the ground or at height.

Routes into the Rigging Industry

There are currently a few routes to becoming a rigger:

  • Project X – a structured freelance experience scheme
  • Self learning, shadowing, and the PLASA Trainee Rigger Scheme
  • Employment or apprenticeship within the entertainment industry

Project X

Project X is a new experience scheme designed by UK Rigging to address the current rigger shortage. This structured scheme is designed to offer a supportive route for freelancers wishing to enter the rigging industry. The scheme offers financial support, planned training, mentoring and rare access to on-the-job experience. Places are limited, but more information and a link to the application form can be found here.

Self Learning

Through having good contacts and a good attitude to work (often for free!), some people are able to find their way into being a rigger without a structured learning scheme. This can also be supported by the PLASA Trainee Rigger Scheme.

PLASA Trainee Rigger Scheme

This method of becoming a rigger is essentially candidate led but with the guidance of information sent to you by PLASA including the following:

  • Log Book – provides a method of recording your rigging work experience.
  • Electronic booklet – gives you information about rigging as a career, using the Rigging Handbook, how to complete the Log Book, the equipment you will need, finding riggers to sign off your log book and preparation for the National Rigging Certificate (NRC).
  • Rigging Handbook – information on rigging theory, your responsibilities under the law, and if in due course you wish to be assessed at NRC Level 2, what you will be required to be competent in.

Registration costs £199 +VAT. Click here to register with PLASA.

Please note that registration for the Trainee Rigger Scheme is seperate to your registration for the NRC assessment. If you complete the Trainee Rigger Scheme you will still need to register for the NRC Assessment (at a discounted rate.)

Employment & Apprenticeship

Many rigging companies offer training as part of an employed job role. An employed position may take longer to achieve your NRC, but offers many other benefits. For example, it can provide financial security, extra support and a deeper confidence with equipment. Being involved in the wider workings of a rigging company can expose you to a wide variety of knowledge and experience to provide the foundation for a long and successful rigging career.

The type of job role available varies at each company; some companies specifically offer rigging apprenticeships, others offer a chance to train alongside other duties such as a warehousing job role.

UK Rigging does not currently offer a rigging apprenticeship. However, employees are offered the chance to train and work as a rigger alonside other warehousing duties. If you’re interested in an employed position at UK Rigging, send in your CV and introduce yourself by emailing the HR manager via [email protected]

With an onsite warehouse, training centre, PPE shop, fabrication department and office, there’s plenty of room to grow within this expanding company. If you’re willing to work hard, be your best and learn something new then get in touch today.