Special Effects Technician

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A special effects (SFX) technician produces visual, pyrotechnic (explosive) or physical effects in order to create a particular impression or illusion in a film, television, stage or video production.

The Work

There are three main areas of work:

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:

Most special effects technicians are freelance. The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) website carries recommendations for freelance rates. The recommended minimum rates for a 10-hour day are:


Employment Status UK %

Past Unemployment

Year Unemployed

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Getting In

Predicted Employment in Scotland

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What Does it Take?

You need:


Getting On

The Joint Industry Special Effects Grading Scheme provides a career structure for those involved in physical, pyrotechnic and visual special effects. The Joint Industry Committee (made up of representatives from the BBC, ITV, PACT, Equity and BECTU) dictates the levels of experience, training and responsibility required to hold the various job titles (grades) within the scheme.

More Information

If you are aged 18 or over you may be interested in The Network. The Network is held each year alongside the TV Festival in Edinburgh. If selected you would attend for four free days of masterclasses and workshops which will provide you with the skills, knowledge and contacts to start a career in TV. You can usually apply from January to May.


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT)
Tel: 020 7242 9200
Twitter: @theabtt

BECTU Scotland (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union)
Tel: 0141 314 0060
Twitter: @bectu

Creative Skillset Scotland
Tel: 020 7713 9800
Twitter: @SkillsetSSC

Creative Skillset works with the UK’s screen-based creative media industries to develop skills and talent from classroom to boardroom.

Edinburgh International Television Festival (EITF)
Tel: 020 7278 9515
Twitter: @EdinburghTVFest

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