Set the stage this fall with CLC’s new live entertainment production program

Getting into the live entertainment business is easier than ever as the College of Lake County (CLC) launches its new live entertainment production program. Start a career this fall helping build and set up equipment and sets for events like concerts and theater productions.

Last year, CLC received a $10,000 grant from the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) to create the program. A combination of workers retiring and job losses during the pandemic has created a need for skilled workers.

“There has never been any professional training for these positions in the past,” said Sheldon Walcher, dean of communications, humanities and fine arts. “That’s why people spend many years getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees for 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 in one year and start their career.

Students receive entry-level training in set making, rigging, audio, entertainment lighting and electrical work, video and cloakroom, and live event management. You will also learn how to find and procure work in the entertainment gig economy.

Work-based learning is integrated into the curriculum. Students are required to intern and have several opportunities at nearby hotspots, including Upstaging Inc., a Sycamore-based company and program partner, and other Chicago-area partners. Students who need to live closer to home can also do an internship in the CLC’s theater department.

Upstaging participated in the research phase with CLC and helped provide guidance to make the training relevant to the current industry. CLC then created a curriculum that prepares students to work with high-profile touring productions such as Wrestlemania, Coldplay and WWE’s Kendrick Lamar. Tour technicians set up stages and lighting and even handle the sound production.


“It can be difficult to describe what you need to know for these careers. There are so many different elements,” said Robin Shaw, co-founder of Upstaging. “Working with CLC has been great and really helped us identify some key competencies students need to succeed in such a diverse industry.”

Students are presented with various career opportunities in this field. The program is designed to provide students with a little bit of everything so that when they enter the field they have a foundation to do what interests them.

“There are a lot of lab courses for students to gain experience and learn how to use the equipment before they get a job, rather than learning on the job, which is how the industry has always worked,” said drama teacher Tracie Folger. “There aren’t many affordable and accessible training programs in the country that allow students to practice with the equipment before going out into the world.”

The jobs pay well, Walcher said, with positions up to $60,000.

Careers in live entertainment production are excellent for those who love to travel and work with their hands.

As a professional and technical education program, students are eligible for Perkins Scholarships and Metallica Scholarships.

Live Entertainment Production courses begin in the fall. Registration for the fall courses is now open. To register, visit www.clcillinois.edu/fall


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