Broadcast Technicians Overview

For those studying to become a broadcast technician, many find that a radio and television technician degree from a community college, technical school or some form of college training is beneficial for preparation. Thanks to the growing career competition in larger cities, many find that working in smaller cities and towns would be better suited for them. Since 29 percent of broadcast technicians work for radio and television stations, you can expect to be working at night, on weekends and sometimes during holidays.

Nature of the Work for Broadcast Technicians

Broadcast Technicians

Broadcast technicians are able to complete many tasks which include the set up and maintenance of electrical equipment used for television and radio broadcasts and sound recordings. Their duties can also include working with equipment used in concerts, plays and, movies. With so many types of duties, many specialized occupations are available within the broadcasting technician field.

The job duties of a broadcast technician include maintaining and operating equipment used in television and radio broadcasts to help regulate clarity, sound and color, as well as signal strength along with operating control panels to select different sources of material. Broadcast technicians must also be ready for quick changes, such as switching from film programming to live programming, network to local programming or one camera/studio to another.

Much of the work of a broadcast technician occurs at a small station. Larger stations and networks tend to hire technicians who are specialized, even though day-to-day tasks and assignments can always change. Whether they are called a “technician,” “operator” or engineer,” their job usually includes operating transmitters and logging and monitoring outgoing signals. They also work with electronic broadcasting equipment services, set ups, adjustments and repairs as well as working on television broadcasts to regulate brightness, contrast, volume and sound quality.

Though some broadcasts and programs will call for broadcast technicians to work outside of the studio and sometimes outdoors, the usual work environment of a broadcast technician remains enjoyable and indoors. Even in such a pleasant environment, a broadcast technician performing maintenance duties may need to go outdoors to perform heavy lifting while setting up equipment as well as climbing poles or antenna towers to perform certain procedures.

The usual work week for a broadcast technician at a large station is 40 hours a week with occasional overtime. For those working at smaller stations, the work week is usually longer and includes working nights, weekends and holidays due to the fact that stations are usually broadcasting every day, 18 to 24 hours a day. With varying amounts of pressure to meet deadlines as well as long hours, many broadcast technicians must remain on call in case of problems or technical failures.

Broadcast technicians working on motion pictures can also expect long hours, deadlines and tight scheduling.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Broadcast Technicians

In order to become a broadcast technician, some sort of formal training is suggested before entering the field.

Since formal training is recommended, those looking to become broadcast technicians should complete their degree in computer networking, broadcast technology, electronics or some other closely related field. Due to the competitive nature for broadcast technicians, many jobs will require that you have a bachelors degree in broadcasting which will eventually help in the advancement of your career in your selected field.

While working on a college degree, it can be deemed valuable to work at your college radio or television station to gain experience before entering the job market. Due to the competitiveness of the industry, many broadcast technicians take jobs at smaller markets or smaller stations where general skills are valued and broadcast technicians can gain proper experience so they can eventually transfer to a higher paying job. Since larger stations require work experience and a specialized skill set, many broadcast technicians will choose to work for smaller markets and then work their way up.

When working in the motion picture industry, many broadcast technicians are hired on a freelance or picture-by-picture basis. When entering this particular business, most people are hired as apprentice editorial assistants and later work their way up. In such a competitive market, reputation and determination are crucial in landing a job.

Along with some sort of formal training, broadcast technicians are also recommended to keep learning about emerging technologies in their field.

Skills in information technology are also crucial since a majority of the broadcasting, editing and recording efforts are done with the help of computers. Those looking to become broadcast technicians should be skilled in electrical, electronic and mechanical systems or equipment. Manual dexterity is also an important par of becoming a broadcast technician.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers will issue a certification to broadcast technicians who are experienced even though licensing isn’t required for this job.

Those who are experienced broadcast technicians can take roles as supervisory technicians or chief engineers. In order to become a chief engineer at a television station, one must obtain a college degree.

Top 10 Most Popular Radio & Television Technician Schools

1. Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts Inc (Southfield, Michigan)
2. Colorado Media School, Colorado Campus (Denver, Colorado)
3. New York University (New York, New York)
4. Towson University (Baltimore, Maryland)
5. Chattahoochee Technical College (Marietta, Georgia)
6. University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
7. Bowie State University (Bowie, Maryland)
8. New England Institute of Technology, East Greenwich (Warwick, Rhode Island)
9. Houston Community College System (Houston, Texas)
10. The College of Saint Rose (Albany, New York)

See All Radio & Television Technician Schools

Online School: Cleveland Institute of Electronics - Online School

Employment and Job Outlook for Broadcast Technicians

Number of People in Profession

31,220

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to little or no change (decrease or increase by 2%).

Broadcast technicians held 31,220 jobs. In terms of where they worked, 29 percent worked in broadcasting, 15 percent in the motion picture and video industry and 13 percent were self-employed.

Jobs for broadcast technicians are pretty much available in any U.S. city. Though television stations tend to recruit more broadcast technicians than a radio station, many technicians choose to take careers in communications, training programs and sales.

Broadcast technicians who usually make the most money and have specialized skills tend to find jobs in large cities such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and DC. For those looking to enter the motion picture industry, jobs are prevalent in cities like Los Angeles and New York City.

Though jobs for broadcast technicians are expected to grow 7 to 13 percent, many broadcast technicians will still face growing competition in larger metropolitan regions rather than smaller cities.

Employment for broadcast technicians is expected to grow 2 percent. Though technological advancements will help the performances of broadcast technicians, these advancements can also mean that these productive broadcast technicians will be holding down their jobs for longer periods of time.

Thanks to the consolidation of stations and advances that cut labor time, radio and television jobs will be limited thanks to efforts such as computer controlled-programming. Though radio and television can be affected, job opportunities are expected to grow in the cable and pay portion of broadcasting due to new advancements such as internet access and video-on-demand.

Thanks to mobile broadcasting, employment opportunities will open up for broadcast Technicians over the next few years.

The growing popularity with working in television will mean broadcast technicians who want entry-level jobs will face fierce competition. Due to this competition, many entry-level broadcast technicians are searching for jobs in smaller towns in cities rather than larger cities because of the limited amount of jobs and the fact that people want to work in metropolitan cities due to higher pay.

Earnings and Salary for Broadcast Technicians

In terms of what types of jobs pay more, those working for television rather than radio as well as those working for commercial broadcasting tends to make more than those working for non-commercial broadcasting. On this note, those working in larger markets also tend to make more money than those working in smaller ones.

The median annual wages of broadcast technicians were $32,960. The middle 50 percent earned between $ 22,960 and $49,590. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,620.

Annual Salary for Broadcast Technicians

On average, Broadcast Technicians earn $32,960 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $17,990/yr $22,960/yr $49,590/yr $66,620/yr

Hourly Wage for Broadcast Technicians

On average, Broadcast Technicians earn $15.85 per hour.

10% 25% 75% 90% $8.65 $11.04 $23.84 $32.03

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook