•   ILDA laser safety courses  

ILDA offers four courses covering laser safety for laser lightshows.

  • Our most popular course is Laser Safety Officer (LSO) for Lasershows. It includes a 125-page laser light show safety reference manual, 350 PowerPoint slides, and an 85-page printout of the slides with room for notes next to each slide. The class lasts about 8-1/2 hours; those who pass a test at the end will receive a Certificate of Completion.
  • We also have shorter courses for operators of laser show equipment, for those advanced persons interested in doing audience scanning, and for persons inspecting lasershows in live productions.
Details on each course are below. A list of past course graduates is here.

The course material is specific to laser light shows. These courses are NOT suitable for persons working with industrial, research, medical, scientific, etc. lasers.


A few states such as Arizona, and some venues, require that a Laser Safety Officer manage and/or operate laser shows. However, in most U.S. states and venues, you do not need any type of laser course in order to manage and/or operate a laser show.*

Of course, it is a good idea to understand laser safety details, and to know the U.S. federal requirements you must follow to do legal shows. This is why ILDA offers the courses below.

If you are outside the U.S., the course's safety information is useful in all countries. For laws and regulations, the course only covers specific United States regulations and laws. Many countries have similar regulations, so this general information is helpful. And, as we go over the many requirements of U.S. laws, we also discuss what procedures are required and how they function to make shows safer.

*Note: New York State is special. For shows not in a fixed location, the state requires passing a test for persons needing a Mobile Laser Operator license. The New York State test does NOT cover lasershows. It primarily covers industrial and surveying/alignment lasers. ILDA's courses are NOT suited to take the New York State Mobile Laser Operator's test — you should look for a NY State specific course or a comprehensive multi-day LSO course covering all types of lasers and uses. Or, if your laser show will be in New York State for just a short time, temporarily hire a person with a New York Mobile Laser Operator license to be your official LSO.

Laser Safety Officer (LSO) for Lasershows course

ILDA’s Laser Safety Officer (LSO) for Lasershows course is ILDA's main laser safety course. Whether online or in-person, the course is led by a live instructor who presents the material, answers questions, conducts discussions etc. There is no pre-recorded instruction.

It is for persons working in the field of laser light displays, who are responsible for the overall safety of a show. It comprehensively covers lasershow-specific content and safety requirements.

We suggest that LSO for Lasershows students have real-world experience working with light show lasers.

The course instruction takes about 8-1/2 hours total. Here's how it breaks down: The first half of the course is about 3 hours of instruction using Zoom, followed by a test that takes about 45 minutes. The second half of the course also has 3 hours of instruction followed by a second test lasting 75 minutes. After all tests have been turned in, the instructor goes over the answers. The total course time is roughly 8 1/2 hours. During this time, we will take a 5 minute break every hour, plus one longer 30 minute break for a meal.

Once you register and pay for the course, ILDA will email to each student the course manual link and the Zoom log-in instructions.

As mentioned above, there is a two-part test.
     • If you pass the test, you receive a Certificate of Completion stating that you attended the LSO for Lasershows course and passed the test. The certificate states that it is for U.S. laser light shows and displays, since the material about laws and regulations is U.S specific. Usually about 85-90% of students pass the test, which has a passing score of 80 out of a possible 110 points.
     • If you do not pass the test, you can re-take the course one subsequent time, within 12 months, for free or for a reduced cost if we are at a location with expenses such as lunch or room rental.) Notify ILDA when you are ready to re-take the course.

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Lasershow Operator course

ILDA’s Lasershow Operator course provides a basic overview of laser safety, for those who are operating laser show equipment, or are working around laser shows. It goes over laser safety basics and why it is important to follow procedures set up by the Laser Safety Officer.

This course is actually the first portion of the LSO for Lasershows course. You and the LSO students will go over the same material. You will take the Lasershow Operator test, and then the course will be over for you. (The LSO students will continue for a few more hours and will have an additional test.)

The Lasershow Operator part takes about 4 hours plus there is a 45 minute test. Attendees who pass the test receive a Certificate of Completion.

(The longer LSO course goes into more detail on many of the topics covered in the Laser Operator portion. The LSO course also goes over how to fill out and submit FDA variances and FAA outdoor laser operation forms, and discusses hazards of audience scanning)

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Photo courtesy Mike Gould

Audience Scanning Safety course

ILDA’s Audience Scanning Safety course covers how to do deliberate audience scanning legally in the U.S., and safely in any jurisdiction.

It is an advanced class. Students should have already taken, and successfully passed, ILDA’s LSO - Lightshows course. If you have not, contact ILDA in advance to see if your prior experience and knowledge qualifies you for the class.

Due to the course requirements, it is not taught online — it is only taught in person. Usually this is given once per year at the annual ILDA Conference. However, it may be given at other times/locations depending on the instructor's schedule, and can be given as a custom course as well.

The course takes about four hours; there is no test at the end. Attendees receive a Certificate of Completion.

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Lasershow Safety Inspector course

ILDA’s Lasershow Safety Inspector course is intended for persons working in live production environments, including concerts, theatrical productions, corporate shows, and special effects. The person is reviewing a laser light display created by another party, to help determine if the show is safe and legal.

We suggest that Lasershow Safety Inspector students have real-world experience working with live productions. This course will tell you what the legal and safety requirements are for laser light displays, and what you need to look for to help ensure these requirements are met.

The course instruction takes about six hours, followed by a test which you have up to two hours to complete.
     • If you pass the test, you receive a Certificate of Completion stating that you attended the Lasershow Safety Inspector course and passed the test.
     • If you do not pass the test, you can re-take the course one subsequent time, within 12 months, at a lower fee. (The re-take fee amount varies depending on location.) Notify ILDA when you are ready to re-take the course.

Persons who take this course will NOT be qualified to independently take measurements to determine whether audience scanning is safe. This requires specialized equipment and knowledge which is covered in ILDA's Audience Scanning Safety course. However, the Lasershow Safety Inspector course will discuss the basics of audience scanning safety, including the U.S. regulatory and documentation requirements with which the laser show company must comply.

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For more information, visit our other ILDA websites:

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ILDAmember.com: Membership database and event management, including joining ILDA
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LasershowSafety.info: Information about safe laser shows, including laws, regulations, checklists, and more

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Top photo: October 17, 2018 LSO class at the LDI trade show in Las Vegas. Photo by Erin Collopy.