Frequently Asked Questions 

What is ETCP?
Who created ETCP? What is the ETCP Council?
Why should I become certified? 
What is the difference between certification and a certificate?
What if I want to bring ETCP to my Region?

Will being certified expose me to lawsuits, even if I'm not the crew chief? 
Will this certification prove me to be a "qualified person" as defined by OSHA and NEC?
Which ETCP certification is right for me?
How will others know I am an ETCP Certified Technician?
How do I become ETCP Certified?
Are the exams ever offered as paper and pencil exams?
How do I get more information about testing? 
What is the cost? 
What if I don’t pass on the first try?
Will my union or company pay? 
How do I renew my certification? Do I have to take the test again? 
What is on the Entertainment Electrician examination? 
Do I have to memorize all of the formulas? 
What is the difference between the two rigging examinations? 
How many questions do I have to answer in the three hour time limit?
Are the ETCP Exams available in French?

What is ETCP?
The Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) focuses on disciplines that directly affect the health and safety of crews, performers, and audiences. As an entertainment technician, you may take exams to become certified as one or more of the following:

  • Arena–Rigger
  • Theatre–Rigger
  • Entertainment–Electrician
  • Portable Power–Distribution Technician

Who created ETCP? What is the ETCP Council?
In March of 2003, ESTA’s Board of Directors envisioned a personnel certification program for entertainment technology technicians. That same year, ESTA was joined by IATSE, USITT, IAVM, TEA and CITT, and in 2004, AMPTP, InfoComm International, Live Nation, and PRG, also came aboard to assist in the development of the program. Since then the ETCP Council has welcomed even more organizations, including The League of American Theatres and Producers, Cirque du Soleil / MGM MIRAGE, Disney Theatrical Productions, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The Council, which is the governing body for ETCP, marks an unprecedented alliance of leaders representing all facets of the entertainment technology industry. At the core of the Council are the industry organizations whose presence ensures their members ' voices continue to be heard in the management of the program. Representing potential candidates, those who employ them, and those in whose facilities they work, these organizations have embraced the benefits that personnel certification can bring to our industry.

Representing the Electrical and Rigging Subject Matter Experts on the Council are the Chairs of these groups, all highly respected authorities in their fields. Bringing additional viewpoints and leadership skills to the Council are individuals appointed for their experience in a wide range of areas including program development, marketing and fundraising, and legal issues.

Why should I become certified?
Obtaining an ETCP certification gives you a stamp that says, “I am confident in my abilities, and I know what I am doing.” When you become an ETCP Certified Technician, you join the ranks of the elite in the entertainment industry and certification can give you the competitive advantage you need. Crafted by leading organizations, unions, major employers, and world-class technicians, ETCP is the way the industry defines “safe”—and employers know it.

ETCP certification helps employers immediately identify riggers and electricians with proven capabilities. Companies that hire ETCP Certified Riggers, Entertainment Electricians and Portable Power Distribution Technicians, are saying that they want to further an industry-wide standard that ensures the safest possible workplace and a highly efficient workforce.

Major employers and unions have devoted many hours and dollars to the development of the program with the intention to integrate these certifications for lead positions into job bids and contracts. In fact, in the last few years, two major industry employers, Live Nation and Global Spectrum, have signed collective bargaining agreements with IATSE which phase in a requirement for ETCP certified technicians in a variety of venues operated by the two companies. The new agreements call for IATSE to provide the venues with an ETCP Certified Rigger at any rigging call and an ETCP Certified Electrician where a lead position is required. Most contracts call for a one to three-year phase-in of the requirement.

What is the difference between certification and a certificate?
Certification results from an assessment process that recognizes an individual's knowledge, skills and competency in a particular specialty. The oversight body must ensure that all credentialing programs and their examinations are developed and conducted according to legally defensible and generally accepted psychometric principles and standards. The process used in the development of ETCP followed the National Commission for Certifying Agencies' Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.

A certificate (usually a certificate of attendance) indicates the completion of a course or series of courses with a specific focus. The course content is determined solely by the provider. There are no eligibility requirements for attaining the certificate and generally no, or limited, efforts are made to assess the degree to which the attendee has mastered the knowledge and skills presented in the educational program.

What if I want to bring ETCP to my Region?
If you are interested in adapting the ETCP exams for your region, If you are interested in bringing certification to your region, read our white paper to learn more about the background of the development and structure of our skills programs.

Will being certified expose me to lawsuits, even if I'm not the crew chief?
“Certification under the ETCP Certification Program establishes that a certified person possesses a certain level of knowledge and skill in the industry. It does not, however, increase liability for persons who are certified under the Program, and there is simply no legal basis on which to make that claim." –David M. Saltiel, Golan Christie Taglia LLP

There is no legal basis for the belief that being ETCP Certified increases a technician's potential exposure to claims for injuries and damages. In fact, IATSE's Associate General Counsel, John B. Shepherd, Attorney at Law, (Short, Shepherd & Stanton), wrote a memo to IATSE members that comments further on the issue.

Will this certification prove me to be a "qualified person" as defined by OSHA and NEC? 
The goal of ETCP is for technicians to use ETCP Certification as a support in claiming oneself "qualified personnel." The ETCP Council is in the beginning stages making this objective (authorities having jurisdiction use this certification) a reality.

Which ETCP certification is right for me? 

  • Rigging Certifications are designed for highly experienced riggers (rigging supervisors, high steel riggers, fly-persons).

  • Arena Certification encompasses rigging that employs chain hoists and truss systems to temporarily suspend objects from overhead structures in any environment.
  • Theatre Certification encompasses rigging that employs counterweighted systems, mechanical systems and hydraulic systems that are usually (but not always) permanently installed in facilities for use by theatre technicians.
  • Electrical Certification encompasses the installation, interconnection, safe use, and repair of all portable distribution, as well as utilization of entertainment-industry-related electrical equipment and the safe use of all venue electrical equipment. Additionally, this certification encompasses the design, layout, and interconnection of portable electrical distribution equipment, including generation if necessary, as well as the safe connection of portable distribution feeders to fixed power sources. Applicants will be expected to know electrical theory and the safe installation and use of entertainment electrical equipment. 
  • Portable Power Distribution Technician (PPDT) Certification is focused on a large population of industry workers in the roles of lighting technicians, stagehands, portable power set/strike technicians, as well as facility maintenance personnel for a wide variety of venues. This certification targets the top two-thirds of people working with this technology at various types of facilities in the corporate, trade show, outdoor event, theatrical, and motion picture/television segments of the entertainment industry.

How will others know I am an ETCP Certified Technician?
Once you pass the exam, you will receive a certificate and wallet-sized ID card with your credential/s listed. You’ll also receive an embroidered patch, a pin, and stickers for your road case, all of which are great ways to advertise. In addition to self-promotion, we’ll list your name on our website, which makes you visible to employers looking for qualified personnel.

How do I become ETCP Certified?
Individuals must meet eligibility requirements to take the exam. These requirements focus on work experience (3000 hours, 2500 hours for PPDT), internships, apprenticeships, and undergraduate/graduate degrees. Courses/training taken outside a formal program of undergraduate or graduate studies do not count towards eligibility to sit for the certification examinations. A complete outline is available in the handbooks or on this website under "Certify."

Once you’ve determined that you’re qualified to test, complete the application and submit it (along with fee-checks must be made out to ESTA) to:

ETCP
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 609
New York, NY, 10036
Re: Application

When an application is approved, the candidate will receive an acceptance letter along with information on how to schedule the examination. There are over 190 computer-based testing centers available across the U.S. and Canada, and they’re open most business days.

Are the exams ever offered as paper and pencil exams?
Please check the homepage for upcoming paper and pencil administrations that are given at tradeshows. Your organization may opt to offer the paper and pencil examination and have a proctor come to your location. This scenario can be helpful if organizations would like to hold a training session beforehand and then offer the test to a group. Please visit the Onsite Exams page for more information.

How do I get more information about testing? 
All candidate information, including handbooks, eligibility requirements and applications, is available on the ETCP Candidate Information page. If you would like the information mailed to you, please contact Meredith Moseley-Bennett, ETCP Certification Manager, at 212-244-1505 or etcp@esta.org.

What is the cost?
Examinations cost $650, but members or employees of ETCP Council member organizations (ESTA, AMPTP, The Broadway League, CITT, IATSE, IAVM, InfoComm International, TEA, and USITT) receive a $100 discount. Multiple examination discounts for registering for more than one examination in a one-year period are also available. For the complete fee structure see the handbooks.

Checks should be made out to ESTA.

What if I don’t pass on the first try?
If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you can retake the examination quickly and privately. The retake fees are $175 with the member discount or $225 without the member discount. When you are ready to retake the exam, submit the retake form and the appropriate fee to the ETCP office. You can schedule your exam as soon as a week after the payment is processed.

Will my union or company pay?
All you can do is ask! Having ETCP certified technicians on staff gives your employer a competitive edge. Many companies and unions are either paying the exam fee outright or reimbursing examination fees for their employees/members. Many unions are reimbursing both those who pass and those who recertify. In fact, the IATSE International Training Trust offers a full reimbursement for initial certification and will cover the recertification fee.

Please contact your employer to see if reimbursement options are available.

How do I renew my certification? Do I have to take the test again?
All certifications require renewal every five years. There are a variety of ways you can maintain your certification without re-taking the examination. Recertification is obtained through a point system (40 points) and a certificant may submit 30 points through work, but 10 points must come from continuing education including: attending training, standards writing, and/or serving as a trainer.

Please note:  Retaking the examination does not replace the education portion of the renewal.  ETCP Certified Technicians must participate in 10 points worth of education to maintain their certification, however, if work has slowed down for you and you don’t meet the requirement of 1200 hours of work in your field, you may retake the test to supplement the work requirement for recertification. If you do not meet the education portion, you will be required to reapply and begin the process of certification from the start.

For more information regarding certification renewal, please visit the "Recertify" section.

What is on the Entertainment Electrician examination? 
The intent of the Certified Entertainment Electrician Examination is to evaluate the competency of the upper- third of electricians working in the entertainment industry. These positions typically involve liability issues, the health and safety of workers and audiences, and compliance with the electrical and other laws of the local area, including laws requiring performance by Qualified Personnel. They are the leads, supervisors, and managers of entertainment electrical work.
This certification encompasses:

  • Electrical Theory
  • Installation, interconnection, safe use, and repair of all portable distribution
  • Utilization of entertainment-industry-related electrical equipment
  • Safe use of all venue electrical equipment
  • Safe connection of portable distribution feeders to fixed power sources.
  • The design, layout, and interconnection of portable electrical distribution equipment, including generation if necessary

Applicants will be expected to know electrical theory and the safe installation and use of entertainment industry electrical equipment.

For a complete content outline overview, please see pages 14-17 of the Electrical Candidate Handbook or Electrical Content Outline on the ETCP website.

What is the difference between the two electrical examinations?
ETCP has two electrical certifications: Entertainment Electrician and Portable Power Distribution Technician. To determine which certification is right for you, read the Scope of Work Document.

What is on the Portable Power Distribution Technician examination?
This certification targets the top two-thirds of people working with this technology at various types of facilities in the corporate, trade show, outdoor event, theatrical, and motion picture/television segments of the entertainment industry. The ETCP PPDT certification is focused on a large population of industry workers, including:

  • Lighting Technicians
  • Stagehands
  • Portable Power Set/Strike Technicians
  • Facility Maintenance Personnel
These positions typically involve the health and safety of technicians, performers and audiences, and require compliance with OSHA and other laws. Those who pass this rigorous test will become ETCP Certified Portable Power Distribution Technicians

Do I have to memorize all of the formulas? 
For the electrical examination, most complex formulas will be provided at the exam, but basic equations (Ohm’s Law, Watt’s Law, etc.) will not be given. You can find the formula sheets that are supplied for the rigging examinations on this website: Rigging Formula Sheet.

What is the difference between the two rigging examinations?

  • Arena Certification encompasses rigging that employs chain hoists and truss systems to temporarily suspend objects from overhead structures in any environment. ETCP recognizes that these methods and hardware are used throughout the entertainment industry in arenas, theatrical venues, and convention and trade show spaces. However, the principles, practices, and components are consistent and similar in all applications and are different from those used in traditional theatrical spaces.
  • Theatre Certification encompasses rigging that employs the use of counterweighted systems, mechanical systems and hydraulic systems, usually, but not always, permanently installed in facilities for the use of theatre technicians in the execution of their rigging responsibilities. An applicant may seek certification in either or both of these divisions.

For more information, read our Complete Content Outline (Arena / Theatre), or see pages 14-21 of the Rigging Candidate Handbook.

How many questions do I have to answer in the three hour time limit?
There are 165 questions on each ETCP examination of which 150 are scored items. Because ETCP is testing so many candidates, it is necessary to have a large bank of questions that can be rotated, so candidates are not seeing the same test forms as their peers. Our testing company, Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) includes the 15 pretest items because it helps the exam committees collect meaningful statistics about new questions that may appear as scored questions on future examinations.

By including the pretest items, all examinees are ensured their scores are the result of sound measurement practices and that scored questions are reflective of current practice. These pretest items are interspersed throughout the exam to ensure that candidates answer them with the same care as they do the scored questions. These 15 items do not count towards the pass/fail of the exam. Including pretest items is a standard practice in the credentialing world; and most examinations that are used for the purpose of issuing a credential include pretest items.

Why do you not get extra time to answer these non-scored items, you ask? Well, the simple answer is that the data we have received assures us that three hours is enough time to complete all 165 questions in the examination. AMP has informed us the time allotted per question meets credentialing industry standards and their data shows that only one-third of the candidates that test at a center use the full three hours to complete the exam.

Are the ETCP exams available in French?
The Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en culture (CQRHC) funded the translations of the Arena and Theatre examinations into French. The French certification exams are available only in the paper and pencil format. Through its regional sections, CITT is working towards ensuring Francophone riggers have regular access to the exams throughout the year.

Interested French-speaking riggers can assess their skills prior to applying for the certification exam by taking the 50-question rigging practice exams.

The Portable Power Distribution Exam (PPDT) and the PPDT Practice Examinations are currently being translated into French and should be available by 2018.  This project was initiated and funded  by IATSE Local 514 in Montreal.

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