Job Satisfaction Among Technical Directors - 2011



Job satisfaction is a topic often discussed among technical directors. Long hours, low pay, inadequate budgets, and personal stress are subjects familiar to all technical directors. But how common are they? Do all technical directors suffer the same challenges, or are concerns regarding these issues not as widespread as many in the profession believe?

This project began 25 years ago as an attempt to answer those questions. This current revival is being put forward to see what, if anything, has changed in that time. Both projects were sponsored, as is this current incarnation, by the USITT Technical Production Commission.

Project History

This project began in 1987 when Lisa Aitken, as part of her graduate thesis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted a survey with Dennis Dorn to investigate technical director job satisfaction. The results were published in TD&T the following year and discussed in a panel session at the USITT conferences in 1988 and 1989 in Calgary where numerous sessions and even one working group formed.

Ten years later I picked up the survey, also as a thesis project at UW, to see what had changed over a decade. Not much had, and the results from that survey were also discussed at the USITT conference the following year. Both surveys returned mixed results. While degrees of job dissatisfaction still remained among many in the profession, those feelings were far from universal. When comparing the results I saw some patterns start to emerge but, with only two survey samples for comparison, there was not enough data to draw definitive conclusions.

I feel the time is right for another go as we approach the 25th anniversary of the initial survey. What has changed in the 14 years since the last survey? What has changed in the 24 years since the first?

A survey of technical directors: past, present and future.

Project Goals

The primary goal of this project is to identify areas of concern common to technical directors. My hope is that the survey results begin a constructive debate on strategies to address those issues.

Once all the data is in, I will be submitting the results to Theatre Design and Technology for publication. Plans are in progress to present the results at the upcoming USITT conference in Long Beach.

The results will also be published here on this site. I will be making the past survey results available as well.

Past Survey Results

coming soon

The Survey

The Survey is now closed. The results will be presented at the USITT conference in Long Beach, CA and be posted on this site soon.

Thank you for your collaboration in this project.


Mark Engler

Assistant Professor/Technical Director

Department of Theatre Arts

North Dakota State University