Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Duties

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, lighting, and broadcast equipment to ensure consistent quality
  • Set up and take down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment or computers, sometimes using complex software
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing on computers
  • Install audio, video, and lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report any problems that arise with complex equipment and make routine repairs
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used

These workers may be called broadcast or sound engineering techniciansoperators, or engineers. They set up and operate audio and video equipment, and the kind of equipment they use may depend on the particular type of technician or industry. At smaller radio and television stations, broadcast and sound engineering technicians may have more responsibilities. At larger stations, they may do more specialized work, although their job assignments may vary from day to day.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians share many responsibilities, but their duties may vary with their specific area of focus. The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:

Audio and video equipment technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. They also connect wires and cables and set up and operate sound and mixing boards and related electronic equipment.

Audio and video equipment technicians work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for meetings, concerts, sports events, conventions, and news conferences. In addition, they may operate equipment at conferences and at presentations for businesses and postsecondary intuitions.

Audio and video equipment technicians also may set up and operate custom lighting systems. They frequently work directly with clients and must provide simple and clear solutions to problems.

Broadcast technicians, also known as broadcast engineers, set up, operate, and maintain equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and ranges of sounds and colors for radio or television broadcasts. They operate transmitters, either in studios or on location in the field, to broadcast radio or television programs. Broadcast technicians also use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians, also known as audio engineers or sound mixers, operate computers and equipment that record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. They record audio performances or events and may combine audio tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product.

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Work Environment

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians held about 144,300 jobs in 2018. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up broadcast and sound engineering technicians was distributed as follows:

Audio and video equipment technicians                                           93,200
Broadcast technicians 35,300
Sound engineering technicians 15,900

The largest employers of broadcast and sound engineering technicians were as follows:

Radio and television broadcasting 19%
Motion picture and sound recording industries                                 15
Real estate and rental and leasing 11
Educational services; state, local, and private 8
Self-employed workers 8

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, or recording studios. However, they may work outdoors in all types of weather in order to broadcast news and other programming on location. Audio and video technicians also set up systems in offices, arenas, hotels, schools, hospitals, and homes.

Technicians doing maintenance may climb poles or antenna towers. Those setting up equipment may do heavy lifting.

Work Schedules

Technicians usually work full time. They may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.

Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.

Education and Training

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.

Education

Audio and video equipment technicians, as well as sound engineering technicians, typically need a postsecondary nondegree award or certificate. Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. Postsecondary nondegree programs for audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians may take several months to a year to complete. The programs include hands-on experience with the equipment used in many entry-level positions.

Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. In addition to courses in math and science, coursework for prospective broadcast technicians should emphasize practical skills such as video editing and production management.

Prospective broadcast and sound engineering technicians should complete high school courses in math, physics, and electronics. They must have excellent computer skills to be successful.

Training

Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education courses and receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and hardware. On-the-job training includes setting up cables or automation systems, testing electrical equipment, learning the codes and standards of the industry, and following safety procedures.

Newly hired workers may be trained in a variety of ways, depending on the types of products and services the employer provides. In addition, new workers’ level of education may also dictate how much training they need.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although it is not required by most employers, voluntary certification may offer advantages in getting a job as a broadcast or sound engineering technician. Certification tells employers that the technician meets certain industry standards and has kept up to date with new technologies.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers operator level, engineering level, broadcast networking, and specialist certifications. Most of these certifications require passing an exam.

The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association offers the general Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential as well as the design CTS and installation CTS. All three credentials require passing an exam and are valid for 3 years.

Other Experience

Gaining practical experience in a high school or college audiovisual department also helps to prepare for work as an audio and video equipment technician.

Advancement

Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or at small stations in big markets, they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations after gaining experience and skills. Few large stations hire someone without previous experience, and they value specialized skills.

Experienced workers with strong technical skills may become supervisory broadcast technicians or chief broadcast engineers. To become chief broadcast engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.

Personality and Interests

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a broadcast and sound engineering technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. Technicians need to communicate with supervisors and coworkers to ensure that clients’ needs are met and that equipment is set up properly before broadcasts, live performances, and presentations.

Computer skills. Technicians need computer skills since they use computer systems to program equipment and edit audio and video recordings.

Manual dexterity. Technicians set up audio and visual equipment and cables, which requires a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination. Others adjust small knobs, dials, and sliders during radio and television broadcasts and live performances.

Problem-solving skills. Technicians need to recognize equipment problems and propose possible solutions to them. Employers typically desire applicants with a variety of skills, who are able to set up equipment, maintain the equipment, and troubleshoot and solve any problems.

Pay

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $45,510 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,890.

Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in May 2019 were as follows:

Sound engineering technicians $54,740
Audio and video equipment technicians                                            45,910
Broadcast technicians 40,570

In May 2019, the median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and sound recording industries                                  $55,220
Educational services; state, local, and private 45,980
Real estate and rental and leasing 42,510
Radio and television broadcasting 38,720

Technicians working in major cities typically earn more than those working in smaller markets.

Technicians usually work full time. They may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.

Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. More audio and video technicians should be needed to set up new, technologically advanced equipment or upgrade and maintain old, complex systems for a variety of organizations.

More companies are increasing their audio and video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients. In addition, an increase in the use of digital signs across a wide variety of industries, such as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores should lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.

Schools and universities are also seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities in order to attract and keep the best students. More audio and visual technicians may be needed to install and maintain interactive whiteboards and wireless projectors so teachers can give multimedia presentations and record lectures.

Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028. More consumers may choose free over-the-air television programming instead of cable or satellite services, a practice commonly referred to as “cord-cutting.” This may contribute to stronger demand for broadcast television. However, most major networks use a single facility to broadcast to multiple stations, which limits the growth potential for broadcast technicians.

Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 2 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations. The television and motion picture industry will continue to need technicians to improve the sound quality of shows and movies.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs will be strong. This occupation attracts many applicants who are interested in working with the latest technology and electronic equipment. Many applicants also are attracted to working in the radio and television industry.

Those looking for work in this industry will have the most job opportunities in smaller markets or stations. Those with hands-on experience with complex electronics and software or with work experience at a radio or television station will have the best job prospects. In addition, technicians should be versatile. They should be able to set up, operate, and maintain equipment.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in broadcast technology, broadcast production, computer networking, or a related field also will improve job prospects for applicants.

For More Information

For more career information and links to employment resources, visit

National Association of Broadcasters

Audio Engineering Society

For more information about certification and links to employment information for broadcast technicians, visit

Society of Broadcast Engineers

For more information on certification and career information for audio and video equipment technicians, visit

Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association

 

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