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Broadcast Technician

Job Outlook: 8% (Faster than average)

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What Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians Do About this section

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians
Broadcast, sound, and video technicians operate equipment in schools and office buildings.

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

Duties

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, sound, 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 technicians, operators, 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, sound, and video 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, sound, and video technicians share many responsibilities, but their duties may vary with their specific area of focus. The following are examples of types of broadcast, sound, and video technicians:

Audio and video technicians, also known as audio-visual technicians, set up, maintain, and dismantle 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 technicians work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for live or recorded events such as meetings, concerts, sporting events, podcasts, and news conferences.

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.

Lighting technicians set up, maintain, and dismantle light fixtures, lighting controls, and associated electrical and rigging equipment used for photography, television, film, video, and live productions. They also may focus or operate light fixtures and attach color filters or other lighting accessories.

Sound engineering technicians, also known as audio engineers or sound mixers, assemble and operate sound equipment. They use this equipment to record, synchronize, mix, edit, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects for theater, video, film, television, podcasts, sporting events, and other productions.  

Work Environment About this section

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians
Broadcast, sound, and video technicians work with a variety of electronic and recording equipment.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians held about 140,300 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up broadcast and sound engineering technicians was distributed as follows:

Audio and video technicians 91,800
Broadcast technicians 32,700
Sound engineering technicians 15,800

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

Radio and television broadcasting 17%
Motion picture and sound recording industries 13
Real estate and rental and leasing 11
Self-employed workers 9
Educational services; state, local, and private 8

Broadcast, sound, and video 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.

How to Become a Broadcast, Sound, or Video Technician About this section

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians
Broadcast, sound, and video technicians typically need postsecondary education, although some are hired with a high school diploma.

Broadcast, sound, and video technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, educational requirements may vary.

Education

Educational requirements for audio and video, lighting, and sound engineering technicians vary from a high school diploma to a college degree, depending on the position. Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree.

Prospective broadcast, sound, and video technicians should complete high school classes in math, physics, and electronics. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have skills related to audio and video equipment and related technologies.

Postsecondary programs for audio and video, lighting, and sound engineering technicians may take several months to years to complete. These programs, which may lead to either a nondegree award or a college degree, often provide 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.

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, sound, and video 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.

Important 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 use computer systems to program equipment and edit audio and video recordings.

Manual dexterity. Some technicians set up audio and video equipment and cables, a job that 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, such as setting up equipment, maintaining the equipment, and troubleshooting and solving any problems that arise.

Pay About this section

Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2019

Media and communication equipment workers

$48,270

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

$45,510

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for broadcast, sound, and video 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, sound, and video technicians in May 2019 were as follows:

Sound engineering technicians $54,740
Audio and video 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 About this section

Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

9%

Media and communication equipment workers

6%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Overall employment of broadcast, sound, and video technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment of audio and video technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2019 to 2029, 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 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 video 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 grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupation. 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 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster 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

About 15,900 openings for broadcast, sound, and video technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Opportunities for entry-level workers may be best in small markets or stations.

Employment projections data for broadcast, sound, and video technicians, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

140,300 153,600 9 13,200

Audio and video technicians

27-4011 91,800 103,100 12 11,300 Get data

Broadcast technicians

27-4012 32,700 33,700 3 1,000 Get data

Sound engineering technicians

27-4014 15,800 16,700 6 1,000 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

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 technicians, visit

Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association

O*NET

Audio and Video Equipment Technicians

Broadcast Technicians

Sound Engineering Technicians

Video

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