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The Average Salary of a Gaffer

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Gaffer is the common job title for the chief lighting technician on movie and television show sets. A gaffer creates the proper lighting needed for scenes. For example, in a moonlit night scene at a lake, the gaffer determines how much artificial light is needed, its intensity and the direction it should fall in the scene. The gaffer directs a crew of electricians on how to set up lighting instruments, generators, and other accessories for every scene and monitors the lighting conditions during filming.

Average Salaries for Gaffers

Salaries for gaffers depend on their experience, location and other factors. The average annual salary, as of July 2014, for chief lighting technicians was $41,000, according to the job site Simply Hired.

Guaranteed Wages for Union Members

Local 728 of the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees negotiates a studio minimum wage scale for its members, who include chief lighting technicians. In 2012, Local 728 signed an agreement for minimum wages up to July 2015. Currently, studios are required to pay gaffers who are daily employees at least $42.56 per hour. Weekly employees are guaranteed a weekly rate of $2,562.41. On August 3, 2014, the rates will increase to $43.41 per hour for daily employees and $2,613.66 for weekly employees.


Susan Echaore-McDavid is a freelance writer. She has authored career books in law enforcement, law, aviation, science, forensics, transportation, engineering, and education, among other areas. She has also written and edited educational materials for adult and adolescent audiences with reading, learning and language needs. She currently maintains two personal blogs.

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Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images