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Frequently Asked Questions

What is ETCP?
Who created ETCP and 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?
Why does ESTA have ETCP in North America and the National Rigging Certificate in the UK?

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?
What if I don’t pass on the first try?
What is the cost?
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?
How should I study for the electrical exam?
Do I have to memorize all of the formulas?
What is the difference between the two rigging examinations?
How should I study for the rigging exams?
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. There are two areas of certification - electrical skills and rigging skills, and an entertainment technician may take exams to hold one or more of the following certifications: Rigger–Arena, Rigger–Theatre, Entertainment Electrician and Portable Power Distribution Technician.

Who created ETCP and what is the ETCP Council?
In March of 2003, the ESTA Board of Directors made plans to establish 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 added to its impressive list of members with The League of American Theatres and Producers, Cirque du Soleil / MGM MIRAGE, Disney Theatrical Productions, and NBC Universal..

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 will be heard during the development process. 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, legal issues, and training.

Why should I become certified?
Obtaining an ETCP certification gives an entertainment technician a stamp that says, “ I am confident in my abilities, and you can trust that I know what I am doing.” 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, a few months ago, two major industry employers, Live Nation and Global Spectrum, announced the signing of 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 head 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.

Why does ESTA have ETCP in North America and the National Rigging Certificate in the UK?
These programs were created to ensure they meet the needs and certification standards of the regional markets. 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 at Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLC

There is no legal basis for the belief that being ETCP Certified increases a technician's potential exposure to claims for injuries and damages. 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. Click here to read the memo.

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?
The rigging certifications are designed for highly experienced riggers (rigging supervisors, high steel riggers, fly-persons, etc.). The Arena certification encompasses rigging that employs chain hoists and truss systems to temporarily suspend objects from overhead structures in any environment. The 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.

The Electrical certification encompasses the installation, interconnection, safe use, and repair of all portable distribution; 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.

The ETCP 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 can also advertise your certification with an embroidered patch, a pin and stickers for your roadcase. ETCP lists you on the website and Employers have already begun using this service when seeking 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 and graduate degrees can be factors as well. Courses 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 "candidate information."

The next step is to complete the application and submit it to ETCP, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 609, New York, NY, 10036 along with your fee. Once an application is accepted, the candidate will receive written acceptance from ETCP, and information will be sent on how to schedule the examination at a site, time, and date that is available and most convenient. There are over 190 computer-based testing centers available across the U.S. and Canada, and these centers are open most business days.

Are the exams ever offered as paper and pencil exams?
Please check the homepage for upcoming paper and pencil administrations. Your organization may opt to offer the paper and pencil examination if you have 10 candidates or more. Please visit this page for more information.

How do I get more information?
All candidate information, including handbooks, eligibility requirements and applications, is available on the ETCP website under "Candidate Information" or if you would like the information mailed to you, please contact Meredith Moseley-Bennett, ETCP Certification Manager, at 212-244-1505 or .

What if I don’t pass on the first try?
If you are not successful at passing your exam on the first attempt, you can retake the examination quickly and privately. The retake fees are now $175 (with the member discount) or $225 (without the member discount). When you are ready to retake the exam, submit a letter of intent with the appropriate fee to the ETCP office. You can schedule your exam as soon as four days after the payment is processed.

What is the cost?
Developing a high-quality, rigorous examination is very costly. From the job analysis, to question writing, to setting the passing rate, ETCP is following the industry standards set by the National Organization of Competency Assurance (NOCA). ETCP works closely with a psychometric firm, Applied Measurement Professionals, to monitor and guide ETCP through this complicated and detailed process.

There is a complete fee structure in the candidate handbooks outlining the cost of each examination. Examinations cost $650, but members or employees of a member of one of the ETCP Council organizations (ESTA, AMPTP, The Broadway League, CITT, IATSE, IAVM, InfoComm International, TEA, and USITT) receive a $100 discount. Multiple examination discounts for the rigging examinations are also available. For more information see page 8 in both of the handbooks.

Checks should be made out to ESTA.

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 they are reimbursing examination fees for their employees/members. Please contact your employer to see if this option is available. Many unions are remibursing those who pass and rereimbursing for recertification. In fact, the IATSE International Training Trust offers a reimbursement of up to $300 for initial certification for up to 100 people a year and will cover the recertification fee.

How do I renew my certification? Do I have to take the test again?
All certifications require recertification every five years. There are a variety of ways you can maintain your certification without re-taking the examination, including work experience, training classes, standards writing, and teaching. For more information regarding certification renewal, please visit: Electrical Renewal, Rigging Renewal or Portable Power Distribution Technician Renewal.

What is on the Entertainment Electrician examination?
The intent of this 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 the installation, interconnection, safe use, and repair of all portable distribution; 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 industry electrical equipment.

For a complete content outline overview, please see pages 14-17 of the electrical candidate handbook or the ETCP website at Electrical Content Outline.

How should I study for the electrical exam?
The title of "Entertainment Electrician" suggests a broad-based knowledge of electrical practices. Therefore, when studying the material, candidates may want to review other entertainment electrical traditions. Candidates are encouraged to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities in all areas in the content outline.

ETCP recognizes there is a demand for resource material and training courses to aid in examination preparation. In accordance with national standards, ETCP does not endorse, support, or provide examination preparation materials or courses. However, a list of seminars and bibliography under educational resources on the ETCP website.

Also, many electricians are forming study groups to prepare for the examination. Investigate if there are any in your area by contacting the union local or start up a group with others interested in taking the exam.

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, please read the Scope of Work Document.

What is on the Portable Power Distribution Technician examination?
 The intent of this examination is to evaluate and validate the knowledge and skill base of the upper two-thirds of Portable Power Distribution Technicians working in the entertainment industry. 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.

This certification meets a need within the entertainment industry to define the required knowledge and skillsets surrounding the assembly, use, and disassembly of portable power systems. This certification will provide documentation of knowledge and assist the employer in determining a worker’s status as a qualified portable power technician.

The ETCP 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.

Do I have to memorize all of the formulas?
For the electrical examination, most complex formulas will be provided in the examination, but basic (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?
There are currently two divisions of the main ETCP Certified Rigger credential: "ETCP Certified Rigger – Arena" and "ETCP Certified Rigger – Theatre." The 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, convention and trade show spaces and in theatrical venues. However, the principles, practices, and components are consistent and similar in all applications and are different from those used in traditional theatrical spaces.

The 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. Each division has its own Handbook separate examination covering the specific knowledge, skills and abilities needed.

For a complete content outline overview click here, or see pages 14-21 of the rigging Candidate Handbook.

How should I study for the rigging exams?
The title of "Certified Rigger – Arena" or "Certified Rigger - Theatre" suggests a broad-based knowledge of rigging practices in these two areas. Therefore, when studying the material, candidates are encouraged to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities in all areas in the content outline.

ETCP recognizes there is a demand for resource material and training courses to aid in examination preparation. In accordance with national standards, ETCP does not endorse, support, or provide examination preparation materials or courses. However, a list of seminars and bibliography under educational resources on the ETCP website.

Also, many riggers are forming study groups to prepare for the examination. Investigate if there are any in your area by contacting the union local or start up a group with others interested in taking the exam.

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) and CITT are pleased to announce that the ETCP exams for entertainment riggers became available in French a couple of times a year - see the homepage for details.

After five months of work, CITT was very proud to announce that the inaugural administration of the French paper and pencil ETCP Arena and Theatre Rigging exams were given  in Montréal on Tuesday April 27, 2010 on the eve of the opening of EN COULISSE at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Another first: both French and English paper and pen exams were administrated simultaneously. In the meantime, interested French-speaking riggers can assess their skills prior to applying for the certification exam by taking the 50-question rigging practice exams, which were launched on-line on March 1, 2010.

The French certification exams will be available only in the paper and pencil format. CITT, through its regional sections will work towards ensuring Francophone riggers have regular access to the exams throughout the year.

The SMEs for arena rigging were Patrick Chassin, Hugo Hamel, François Laurion, Stéphane Mayrand, Ewen Seagel and Claude Sergerie. The SMEs for theatre rigging were David Charbonneau, Jean-François Dubé, Jean-Yves Laroche, Pierre Masse, Colin Noël, and Brian Parker.