Broadcast and sound engineering technicians held about 121,400 jobs in 2012. Their employment was distributed among the detailed occupations as follows:
|Audio and video equipment technicians||67,700|
|Sound engineering technicians||17,000|
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, or recording studios. However, some work outdoors in all types of conditions to broadcast news and other programming on location. Audio and video technicians also set up systems in offices, schools, government agencies, hospitals, and homes.
The industries that employed the most broadcast and sound engineering technicians in 2012 were as follows:
|Radio and television broadcasting||24%|
|Motion picture and video industries||10|
|Colleges, universities, and professional
schools; state, local, and private
Technicians doing maintenance may climb poles or antenna towers, and those setting up equipment do heavy lifting.
Technicians typically work full time. Some may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most stations are on the air 24 hours a day.
Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work long hours to meet contract deadlines with movie studios.
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education, but depending on the work they do, it could be a postsecondary non-degree award or an associate’s degree.
Audio and video equipment technicians, as well as sound engineering technicians, typically need a postsecondary non-degree award or certificate, whereas broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. However, in some cases they may only need a high school diploma to be eligible for entry-level positions.
Postsecondary non-degree 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.
Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education and receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and hardware. On-the-job training takes less than 6 months and includes topics such as setting up cables or automation systems, testing electrical equipment, learning the codes and standards of the industry, and following safety procedures.
Training for new hires can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the types of products and services the employer provides. Although some formal apprenticeship programs do exist, more frequently a new technician will accompany a more experienced technician to get the training and skills necessary for advancement.
Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department can also help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although not required by most employers, earning voluntary certification will 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.
For example, the Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and a broadcast networking certification, each of which requires passing an exam. Similarly, InfoComm International offers an audiovisual Certified Technology Specialist credential.
Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or with small stations in big markets, after they gain the necessary experience and skills they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations. Few large stations hire someone without previous experience, and they value more specialized skills.
Experienced workers with strong technical skills can become supervisory technicians or chief engineers. To become chief engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.
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.
The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $41,200 in May 2012. 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 $20,680, and the top 10 percent earned more than $79,170.
Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in May 2012 were as follows:
- $46,310 for sound engineering technicians
- $41,850 for audio and video equipment technicians
- $37,880 for broadcast technicians
Technicians working in major cities typically earn more than those working in smaller locations.
Technicians usually work full time. Some 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 long hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.
Employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and radio and television stations seeking new equipment to improve their audio and video capabilities.
Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Audio and video equipment is in demand in many buildings, where technicians set up new equipment or upgrade and maintain old, complex systems. More companies are increasing their video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients.
An increase in the use of digital signage for schools, hospitals, and hotels also will lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.
Schools and universities are seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities to attract and keep the best students. They are building classrooms with interactive whiteboards and video equipment so teachers can give more interactive multimedia presentations and record lectures.
Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. The television and motion picture industry will continue to need technicians to improve the picture quality of shows and movies. The industry is installing the latest technologies, such as digital or 3D screens, in movie and home theaters and is converting existing theaters to new formats.
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 since they set up, operate, and maintain equipment, whereas previously technicians typically specialized in one area.
An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in broadcast technology, broadcast production, computer networking, or a related field will also improve job prospects for applicants.
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