A broadcast technician is responsible for the strength and clarity of the images and sounds we see on television and the sounds we hear on the radio. He or she uses special electrical equipment to regulate broadcast signals.
There were about 36,700 broadcast technicians employed in the United States in 2012. Most worked in the radio and television industry. Although they typically work indoors, there are some jobs that require broadcast technicians to work outdoors for on-location broadcasts. Most jobs are full-time positions but there are part-time and contract positions available. Because radio and television stations air programming around the clock, broadcast technicians must work days, nights, weekends and holidays.
If you want to become a broadcast technician, you will need to earn at least an associate degree in broadcast technology or a related field. This degree will take approximately two years to complete and should include classes in math, science, production management and video editing. You should also get hands-on training with the equipment that is used by professionals in the industry.
Individuals who work in this field may, if they wish, become certified. The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) is one organization that offers this voluntary certification.
In addition to formal training, one needs certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation. Strong speaking and listening skills will help a broadcast technician communicate with his or her coworkers. He or she will need good critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Strong manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination will allow a broadcast technician to set up and use his or her equipment.
With experience, a broadcast technician can move into a supervisory position. Those who choose this path need good managerial skills.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of broadcast technicians will grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2022. Competition for jobs will be intense. Those with hands-on experience will fare best. It is of the utmost importance to have experience operating complex equipment.
Broadcast technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,880 and median hourly wages of $18.21 in 2012.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a broadcast technician currently earns in your city.
A Day in a Broadcast Technician's Life:
These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for broadcast technician positions found on Indeed.com:
- Provide support for the installation, diagnosis, and maintenance of on-air video, audio, RF, baseband, signal processing, transport and transmission equipment.
- Utilize test equipment to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
- Clean up the gear after broadcasts.
- Maintain equipment and ensure proper function.
- Observe quality control monitor to verify that station is on-air. Monitor television system to ensure all channels are operating appropriately within specifications and correct programming is being televised.
- Install cabling & new equipment, perform routine maintenance, interpret wiring diagrams and work with engineers to test and integrate new systems.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Broadcasting and Sound Engineering Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm (visited January 22, 2014).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Broadcast Technicians, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/27-4012.00 (visited January 22, 2014).