My name is Robert Waller. I am the Arts Education Specialist and CTE-Performing Arts Program Specialist for the Arizona Department of Education.
Recently, the Arizona State Legislature implemented new requirements related to CTE funding. Specifically, for CTE programs to be eligible for state funding, they must include opportunities for students to earn industry-recognized professional certifications (for example, ASE Certification for students who complete an Automotive program.) As the Specialist for Arizona's CTE-Technical Theatre programs, I have encountered more than a few stumbling blocks in meeting this requirement for Arizona's CTE-Technical Theatre students. Currently, a group of CTE-Technical Theatre teachers are examining the appropriateness of the NCCER Core Curriculum certification as well as the USITT eSET certifications.
Do you happen to know of any other industry-recognized professional certifications that might be appropriate for Technical Theatre students?
Thank you in advance for your assistance and information. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
All the best,
Robert Waller, M.Ed.
Education Program Specialist/Title I
Arts Education Specialist
Highly Effective Schools Division
Arizona Department of Education
Mailing Address: 1525 W. Jefferson Street, Bin 32 | Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Office Address: 3300 N. Central Avenue | Phoenix, Arizona 85012
Phone: (602) 364-3015 | Email: Robert.Waller@azed.gov
Maybe getting the students OSHA certified? Or some other type of health & safety certification for working in a shop with power tools.
Phone: (602) 364-3015 | Email: <maskemail>Robert.Waller@...</maskemail><<maskemail>Robert.Waller@...</maskemail>>
ETCP Certified Riggers and ETCP Certified Electricians are both industry standard. Their website has practice exams available which would help you gauge their appropriateness for HS students.
ETCP - The Entertainment Technician Certification Program
Ah, beat me to it with the ETCP link. My principal is pushing for certifications for us as well, and I had a hard time getting her to understand that they don't exist, and that in our world, what the paper says you know is much less important than what you've learned working. Found ETCP during my digging around, and plan to use the pre-test in my tech classes.
There are also Audio Engineer certifications that might be useful.
ETCP is not easy. My friend has been an IATSE electrician for the past 10 years and touring for almost 20 and just recently got her ETCP-Electrician certification. I think you're right--the conversation needs to be had that there really isn't a comparable program that's realistic.
Thank you for the information about the ETCP examinations and certifications. They appear to be fantastic for experienced working professionals and college graduates. Unfortunately, the testing requirements for ETCP certifications are as follows:
As such, the ETCP examinations and certifications are impractical (and virtually unattainable) for high school students.
The OSHA10 and OSHA30 certifications are certainly relevant to just about any professional endeavor, and most certainly to "Technical Theatre;" however, the general opinion is that they are not enough to meet the new Arizona legislative requirements for CTE funding.
So...the search continues...
USITT has recently released a series of tests called eSet - Essential Skills for the Entertainment Technician. You can find out more at ESET - Learn | USITT. It is for the most part online.
Basic Terms and Safety, Rigging, Lighting and Electrics and Costuming are the first tests available. Additional tests are coming in the next year.
To piggy back on what Ellen said, the eSET exams are designed with the recent college graduates in mind. However, they provide good guidance as to what should be taught within any technical theatre program.
Students taking the first test (which is free) will need to know quite a bit about the stage union, work rules, national safety standards as well as basic knowledge of the theatrical space and systems. Upon completing that test, the ensuing tests ($40.00 each) delve into more specific areas. For each of these areas, there is a practical exam that must be completed successfully before the student will receive a certificate. The first practical exams were given this past March at USITT in Salt Lake but there is discussion about other venues/conferences to be included as testing sites.
I helped write the Lighting and Electrics test with USITT's approval, beta tested it with my advanced high school tech students. They did fine but then again, I knew what was on the test and prepped them adequately.
Another alternative is the Nocti Exam developed by NYC schools about ten years ago. You can find info
They are designed for high school students as the boundary exam (CTE) in tech theatre. They are a bit "old school" but carry the type of evaluative rigor that may be pleasing to administrators and giving your students something worthwhile to work toward. The test is online but there are discipline specific practical tests as well.
First, I am very pleased to hear that the Arizona Department of Education even has a CTE-Performing Arts Program Specialist. You are way ahead of most states! Too many states have their heads stuck in the sand about what that looks like. But, yes, regardless of state, there certainly is a lack of (dare I say the word) ‘standardized’ training for high school tech theatre students. ETCP is well recognized but it’s a bit “TMI” for student who are only(?) operating a fly system. And as someone has mentioned, USITT’s eSET is an awesome new program, but it is geared more towards college students, although it could still be applicable to high school vocational tech theatre students – if the right person is hired to teach them (therein lies the rub in many states too). It’s also my understanding that USITT is working on reaching out to high schools. In the meantime I’ve found that I have had to create my own training programs, not only for theory, but for safety (something not recognized by a lot of school district administrations!). In particular I developed a training program, tracking system, and safety rules, for students using the fly system. PRESETT has a certification in high school theatre management, which could be suitable for juniors and seniors who were vocationally inclined and looking for a way to make a living in tech theatre. For the scene shop – have a look at your school’s woodshop CTE requirements and use those (such as training and tests on all power tools). I’m a lighting designer by training and trade, so I’ve created a lighting workshop, but that’s only one aspect of tech theatre. So I’ve also had industry professionals come in and do trainings and workshops. For instance I’ve had a ETCP rigger come in and teach my students how to use the fly system, and I’ve had a local sound engineer come in and teach about the theory (physics!) and practice of sound. It’s true that there are no industry standard certifications at the high school level and people seem to piece-meal their programs together. There are also textbooks out there about tech theatre, but they are few and far between. Several copies of “The Stage and the School” was given to one high school theatre I was managing when it was built, but the administration never hired a tech theatre teacher to utilize it, let alone insisted on any sort of theatre program sadly. If you google “school theatre” or other similar phrases some book ideas come up. So, all this is to say that I have no solutions either, but that I am glad that this conversation is happening, as I think the tide is changing, as more and more districts build these state-of-the-art theatres on their high school campuses and only then discover they don’t know how to run them. I think through our continued discourse a solution will arise, which will lead into action.
Thank you all for the very helpful information regarding Industry-recognized Professional Certifications for "Technical Theatre" Students. I am proud to be associated with such a distinguished group of talented and generous professional educators.
While Oregon doesn't have a comprehensive tech training certification either, Stagecraft Industries has an employee named Craig Austin (he does most of the rigging inspections and work in our state and many others) who has created a seminar in Rigging Training that he comes to our schools and offers. Our district has covered the cost every few years and the teachers and head tech students are invited to attend. It is in counterweight basics and safety, hanging hardware, load management on the rail, procedures, etc. Working with that kind of professional group could also help in the development of CTE standards or assessments or resources? It certainly has been beneficial for us.