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Broadcast Technicians picture    Broadcast Technicians image

Broadcast Technicians are responsible for setting up, operating, and taking care of a wide variety of broadcasting equipment used for television shows, radio broadcasts, or movies. The equipment can be used for live production or for recording the broadcast. Most broadcast technicians work at radio and television studios, where they take charge of the equipment used for broadcasting or recording radio or TV shows. Others work on movie sets. The type of equipment they use includes microphones, cameras, consoles, computers, and tape recorders.

Broadcast technicians who work for small television or radio stations are generally versatile and perform a variety of duties, whereas those employed by large stations tend to specialize. There are a number of specialties in this field, including the following:

  • Transmitter Operators: They operate transmitters according to regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), while monitoring and logging outgoing signals.
  • Maintenance Technicians: They specialize in the maintenance of electronic broadcasting equipment, including equipment adjustment, service, and repair.
  • Audio Control Engineers: They regulate the sound quality of broadcasts.
  • Video Control Engineers: They coordinate the visual fidelity of broadcasts by regulating things such as brightness, color, contrast, and picture size.
  • Recording Engineers: They operate and maintain recording equipment, including special effect consoles and sound mixers.
  • Field Technicians: They set up and operate broadcasting remote portable transmission equipment outside the studio. Many of these technicians work on news broadcasts.
  • Video Recording Operators: They use and maintain video tape equipment to transcribe live programs. To an increasing extent, stations are now using computers to record, edit, and store material electronically.
  • Projectionists: They operate film and slide projection equipment.

Responsibilities

Before initiating a broadcast, technicians conduct tests to ensure that signals work properly. During the broadcasting of TV or radio shows, broadcast technicians focus on controlling the quality of the sound and/or picture. To do this, they operate control panels that cause camera angles to be switched, sound volumes to be raised or lowered, and special effects to be inserted. When broadcasting news programs, technicians operate controls that shift from studio coverage to on-the-scene reporting. They also use controls that allow switching between local sources and satellite feeds in order to blend national and local coverage within a broadcast. When making any of these switches, technicians typically rely on cues from program directors that alert them to when the switch should happen. Communication with co-workers during filming and broadcasting is normally accomplished through the use of hand signals and headsets.

When recording programs, technicians first map out which cameras, microphones, and equipment should be used for the particular show being recorded. They then review the script so that they know in advance when to make switches involving cameras and other equipment. They also plan the insertion of commercial breaks. Field technicians prepare for broadcasts of news events by driving vans to the event site, where they discuss equipment placement with reporters and camera operators. They then set up the equipment in a manner which maximizes the clarity of signals recorded or transmitted back to the studio.

Broadcast technicians are also responsible for installing new equipment to keep pace with changes in technology. As an example, many stations have recently changed from analog to digital signals. Broadcast technicians also maintain logs of all programs aired or recorded and later file the programming logs with the FCC. Additional duties that are often performed by broadcast technicians include the following:

  • Preview and schedule programming
  • Plan and run recording sessions
  • Design or modify equipment to meet specific program needs
  • Direct technical personnel during filming
  • Write reports describing past and future programming
  • Train others to use equipment

Job Characteristics

Most broadcast technicians work indoors in comfortable surroundings; however, some of them do much of their work outdoors in all types of weather. Depending on the specific job, technicians may undergo a lot of physical activity or may be mostly sedentary. Those who do maintenance may need to climb poles or antenna towers, while those who set up equipment may need to do heavy lifting. While most broadcast technicians work a 40-hour work week, many of them often work overtime or weekends to meet broadcast deadlines. Evening, night, and weekend shifts are common in the profession due to the fact that many stations are on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As is the case with many professions, the job has both its good points and bad. Broadcast technicians often get a feeling of accomplishment by being able to see the immediate results of their work. The job allows technicians to be creative in an occupation where the results of their work are viewed by many. There is a good deal of autonomy, as technicians often make decisions without consulting with a supervisor. On the other hand, there is often pressure to meet deadlines and this can sometimes be mentally and physically exhausting. There is also pressure associated with the job's demand for accuracy, where errors can negatively impact the quality of the broadcast.

Important skills needed in this profession include an ability to communication well, both orally and in writing; manual dexterity; attention to detail; and reasoning and problem solving skills. Technicians also need to be skilled in information technology due to the widespread use of digital recording, editing, and broadcasting. Not surprisingly, a very important trait for a good broadcasting technician is an aptitude for working with electronic and mechanical systems.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS), employment of broadcast technicians is projected to grow roughly as fast as the average profession over the next decade. There will be a considerable amount of job growth in the movie and cable TV industries as cable companies continually expand the number of channels they carry. Growth in the radio and TV broadcasting industry will be slower, owing to the emergence of labor-saving technology such as remotely controlled transmitters and computer-controlled programming. Another factor slowing job growth in radio and television is the consolidation of station ownership, which results in more stations being manned by fewer technicians.

Technicians who can install and operate digital transmitters are currently in high demand as television stations are converting from analog to digital broadcasting in compliance with a law that mandates the phasing out of analog signals by February 2009. Although there is no comparable law regulating the radio industry, many radio stations are beginning to broadcast digital signals as well.

Competition for jobs is expected to be most intense in major metropolitan areas, where stations tend to seek highly experienced personnel to fill a limited number of available openings. Job prospects for entry-level positions in smaller cities and towns, however, should generally remain strong.

Broadcast Technician Schools, Certification, and Licensing

Although there are no set-in-stone educational requirements for broadcast technicians, the best way to enter the profession is to have at least a high school education (or GED equivalent) plus some level of job-related postsecondary coursework from a technical school or college. An associate degree in broadcast technology, electronics, computer networking, or a related field is highly recommended. Those still in high school who are contemplating a career in this field should consider courses in electronics, computers, math, physics, and theater arts.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated a previous FCC requirement that broadcast technicians be licensed. Consequently, there are no current licensing or certification requirements in any state. However, voluntary certification by the Society of Broadcast Engineers is a widely-respected credential which is likely to enhance employment prospects. There are several levels of certification awarded to experienced technicians who are able to pass an examination. Specifically, the Certified Radio Operator and the Certified Television Operator designations effectively fill the void left by the elimination of the FCC license. Once employed, many technicians learn their skills on the job from more experienced technicians. Also, many employers pay tuition and expenses for courses or seminars to help their technicians keep current with developments in the field.

Resources

Major Employers

Approximately 12% of broadcast technicians are self-employed. The rest are mostly employed by radio stations, television stations, and motion picture and video production companies. Generally speaking, there are more jobs at television stations than radio stations, but jobs at both sites can be found in nearly all cities. Radio jobs can also be found in many small towns. The most prestigious TV/radio jobs in this field are concentrated in the big cities that originate many network and news programs, i.e., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Jobs in movie production are concentrated in Los Angeles and New York City.

Schools for Broadcast Technicians are listed in the column to the left.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Broadcast Technicians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Broadcast Technicians jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 140 $38,290
Birmingham 140 $38,290
Montgomery 40 $25,120
Huntsville 30 $32,740
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 50 $35,000
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 290 $33,990
Mesa 290 $33,990
Phoenix 290 $33,990
Tucson 70 $38,740
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 40 $42,190
North Little Rock 40 $42,190
Little Rock 40 $42,190
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 2640 $47,280
Los Angeles 2640 $47,280
Anaheim 2640 $47,280
San Francisco 390 $68,700
Oakland 390 $68,700
Hayward 390 $68,700
Carlsbad 250 $36,550
San Diego 250 $36,550
Sacramento 230 $41,920
Roseville 230 $41,920
Arden 230 $41,920
Arcade 230 $41,920
Fresno 140 $37,800
San Jose 70 $33,560
Santa Clara 70 $33,560
Sunnyvale 70 $33,560
Ontario 70 $52,730
Riverside 70 $52,730
San Bernardino 70 $52,730
Santa Barbara 40 $39,720
Santa Maria 40 $39,720
Salinas 30 $34,660
Bakersfield 30 $40,670
Oxnard N/A $24,290
Thousand Oaks N/A $24,290
Ventura N/A $24,290
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 540 $49,870
Aurora 540 $49,870
Denver 540 $49,870
Colorado Springs 50 $36,060
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 440 $32,890
West Hartford 440 $32,890
Hartford 440 $32,890
Stamford 70 $38,550
Norwalk 70 $38,550
Bridgeport 70 $38,550
New Haven N/A $36,570
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 550 $37,190
Miami 550 $37,190
Fort Lauderdale 550 $37,190
St. Petersburg 400 $44,590
Clearwater 400 $44,590
Tampa 400 $44,590
Brent 50 $19,710
Ferry Pass 50 $19,710
Pensacola 50 $19,710
Tallahassee 50 $33,960
Kissimmee N/A $34,220
Sanford N/A $34,220
Orlando N/A $34,220
Cape Coral N/A $35,930
Fort Myers N/A $35,930
Jacksonville N/A $39,370
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 570 $48,930
Sandy Springs 570 $48,930
Atlanta 570 $48,930
Savannah 30 $30,810
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 110 $31,780
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 30 $39,710
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 150 $36,880
Carmel 150 $36,880
Indianapolis 150 $36,880
Fort Wayne 60 $28,190
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 200 $38,340
Des Moines 200 $38,340
Cedar Rapids 30 $51,370
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 70 $33,600
Topeka 30 $29,750
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 50 $43,600
Lexington 50 $43,600
Bowling Green N/A $23,260
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 70 $23,890
New Orleans 70 $23,890
Baton Rouge N/A $31,200
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 120 $35,500
Portland 120 $35,500
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 230 $56,260
Columbia 230 $56,260
Baltimore 230 $56,260
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 410 $40,770
Dearborn 410 $40,770
Warren 410 $40,770
Wyoming 60 $30,430
Grand Rapids 60 $30,430
East Lansing N/A $30,050
Lansing N/A $30,050
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 60 $31,060
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 40 $30,820
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln N/A $41,640
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 90 $36,570
Henderson 90 $36,570
Las Vegas 90 $36,570
Reno 40 $38,240
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 60 $31,450
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 180 $32,810
Buffalo 180 $32,810
Cheektowaga 180 $32,810
Syracuse 160 $31,620
Rochester 110 $32,340
Schenectady 100 $35,380
Albany 100 $35,380
Troy 100 $35,380
Binghamton 50 $19,950
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 120 $36,020
High Point 50 $28,710
Greensboro 50 $28,710
Durham 50 $37,270
Chapel Hill 50 $37,270
Wilmington 40 $39,590
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 260 $30,720
Cleveland 260 $30,720
Columbus 160 $28,100
Dayton 50 $32,400
Toledo 40 $34,930
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 70 $37,380
Tulsa 40 $30,990
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Medford 70 $23,870
Eugene 50 $29,060
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 210 $31,370
Harrisburg 80 $40,200
Carlisle 80 $40,200
Hazleton N/A $36,270
Barre N/A $36,270
Scranton N/A $36,270
Wilkes N/A $36,270
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 130 $27,010
Carolina 130 $27,010
San Juan 130 $27,010
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 390 $32,650
Mauldin 70 $30,860
Anderson 70 $30,860
Greenville 70 $30,860
Charleston 60 $31,070
North Charleston 60 $31,070
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 40 $30,000
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 130 $40,110
Nashville 130 $40,110
Murfreesboro 130 $40,110
Davidson 130 $40,110
Knoxville 50 N/A
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
The Woodlands 460 $30,320
Houston 460 $30,320
Sugar Land 460 $30,320
Arlington 400 $34,190
Fort Worth 400 $34,190
Dallas 400 $34,190
Austin 170 $33,740
Round Rock 170 $33,740
San Antonio 150 $32,370
New Braunfels 150 $32,370
El Paso 80 $28,380
Lubbock 60 $23,970
Waco 50 $31,560
Corpus Christi 40 $27,950
Beaumont 30 $30,080
Port Arthur 30 $30,080
Amarillo N/A $21,020
Mission N/A $24,460
McAllen N/A $24,460
Edinburg N/A $24,460
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 110 $37,460
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 40 $36,560
Burlington 40 $36,560
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 80 $31,470
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 350 $34,010
Bellevue 350 $34,010
Tacoma 350 $34,010
Spokane Valley 80 $32,060
Spokane 80 $32,060
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Madison 210 $47,420
Green Bay 50 $29,850
West Allis N/A $67,440
Milwaukee N/A $67,440
Waukesha N/A $67,440
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper N/A $32,850

Most Popular Industries for :
Broadcast Technicians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Media And Broadcasting 25,680 77% $30,150
Education 2,020 6% $40,350
Movie And Music 1,590 4% $47,520
Telecommunications 1,440 4% $41,160
Government 1,020 3% $45,140
Professional And Technical Services 660 1% $39,570
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National City
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Broadcast Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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