Picture of woman in editing software

Special Effects Technician

Adding the special effects to films, from dragons to snow, that create immersive experiences for audiences

How this role makes a difference

Have you ever wondered how filmmakers create snow when they need it, produce an explosion that looks real, have tea pots that talk, or show hundreds of imaginary creatures flying through the sky? These sorts of magical moments are achieved through the work of highly skilled technicians who know how to add visual, physical, and explosive special effects to films.

While some special effects are filmed live, in front of the camera, others can be added in later using digital techniques such as animation and CGI. Physical special effects involve the creation of props, mechanical tricks and models. You could be the technician who helps to create blockbuster films everyone loves because the special effects are amazing!

The kind of work you’ll do

  • Brainstorming ideas and solutions with creative and technical teams
  • Proposing ideas to film makers
  • Building new equipment and props
  • Assembling and checking models and mechanical items
  • Working on a computer to model or trigger effects
  • Introducing props and other special effects on the film set and making sure they work
  • Repairing parts or mechanics that break
  • Safely removing and storing props and equipment after use
Useful skills
Problem solving
Useful skills
Instructing others
Useful skills

What you can bring to the role

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*according to ONS

Future career opportunities

Once you’ve gained general experience in a broad range of special effects, you can start to focus on those you like most and are best at. There are specialist courses you can take to add to your skills.

After about ten years in the industry, you could become a senior technician, and after a few more you could be promoted to the role of special effects supervisor. Beyond that, you might decide to set up your own special effects company.

How to get into this role

There’s no perfect career path or ideal way into your dream job.

But if you’re interested in education and training options that could be relevant to this role, you might want to consider:  

Schools and colleges each have their own career guidance plan and can provide detailed information, advice, and guidance on options and next steps.

A little more about the role

Exciting features...

You could work in a special effects studio that supplies lots of different films, or could spend time on a film set, dedicated to one particular film. You’ll learn how to use a range of specialist tools and work with diverse materials including rubber, wood, and metal. Best of all, when films are launched, you’ll be able to see your creativity and hard work come to life on the big screen.