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Become an Assistant Producer: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an assistant producer. Research the job description, education, and professional skills to find out how to start a career in broadcasting. View article »

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  • 0:04 Becoming an Assistant Producer
  • 1:08 Step 1: Earn a Degree
  • 1:46 Step 2: Develop…
  • 2:45 Step 3: Assemble a Demo DVD
  • 3:20 Step 4: Land…
  • 3:46 Step 5: Advance in the…

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Becoming an Assistant Producer

Assistant producers, also known as associate producers, are entry-level employees in the broadcasting and film industries. This position provides the experience necessary for advancement in the field, and it includes an assortment of job tasks that aid producers and other program staff in researching, writing, shooting video, editing, and timing productions. Training, experience, and education help assistant producers gain positions with greater responsibility and in larger markets.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree, although some positions only require an associate's degree
Degree Field Broadcasting, journalism, or communications
Experience Demo reel, internships, and on-campus media
Key Skills News writing, video and audio production, and computer editing
Salary (2015) $68,440 per year (Median salary for all producers and directors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The first step towards becoming an assistant producer is to earn a broadcasting, journalism, or communications degree. Although some assistant producers are hired without a college education or with just an associate's degree, the BLS reports broadcasting industry employers frequently require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, even for entry-level positions. Degree programs in television production, broadcasting, journalism, and related communications fields include both theoretical and practical coursework, providing students with training in news writing, video and audio production, and computer editing, as well as an overview of mass communications and media.

Step 2: Develop Professional Skills

The second step towards becoming an assistant producer is to develop professional skills. The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), a broadcasting industry professional organization, recommends students work to develop competency in a variety of news production skills in order to make them more marketable to potential employers. Colleges and universities offer co-curricular activities such as college radio and television stations, school newspapers, and drama departments, wherein students apply the hands-on training they receive in their production classes.

According to the RTDNA, writing skills, a broad liberal arts education, and a keen interest in current events are also valuable for employment in media careers. Additionally, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) recommends internships as a means of acquiring professional skills and making networking connections in a real-world setting. Some degree programs include internships, while others require them for graduation.

Step 3: Assemble a Demo DVD

The third step towards becoming an assistant producer is to assemble a demo DVD or demo real. In addition to resumes and interviews, the broadcasting industry requires job applicants to submit a demo DVD as well as writing samples, also known as clips. These samples demonstrate an applicant's ability to shoot or edit video, perform on-air as a reporter or anchor, produce news segments, and write stories. Well-crafted demos and clips also showcase a prospective employee's professionalism and experience, which the BLS notes as important qualities for work in the broadcast industry.

Step 4: Land an Entry-Level Position

The fourth step towards becoming an assistant producer is to land an entry-level position. Both the BLS and the NAB explain that broadcasting is a particularly competitive field, which means job seekers often enter the industry through small-town stations with a lower market share. Applicants are more desirable to employers if they require less training and are able to perform a wide range of tasks related to writing, gathering, and producing news.

Step 5: Advance in the Industry

The fifth step towards becoming an assistant producer is to advance in the industry. Assistant producers wishing to take on greater responsibility or work in the larger metropolitan markets may need to relocate several times and gain as much technical experience as possible along the way. Working evenings, weekends, or both is common in this industry.

The steps towards becoming an assistant producer include earning a broadcasting, journalism, or communications degree; developing professional skills; assembling a demo DVD; landing an entry-level position; and advancing in the industry.

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